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December 30, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (2:01 PM)

Greetings all. Yesterday I was in San Antonio, and not a single road was under construction. Then I wrote a negative column about the Lakers, and not one of their fans flamed me. I feel like the world no longer makes any sense.

John Hollinger
  (2:02 PM)

Before we start, a bit of trivia: Can you name, without looking at the leaderboard, a) which big man leads the NBA in EWA, and b) which power forward-center combo is tops in the league?

Marc (Charlotte)

Do you think Raymond Felton's chances at Most Improved Player will be discounted because of "D'Antoni's system"?

John Hollinger
  (2:03 PM)

No, I think they'll be discounted because he's not Kevin Love. Felton is a strong candidate, certainly, but he's not the only player in the league to make a performance jump.

Kevin (Twinsburg, OH)

Are Roy's comments about Andre Miller evidence of a star who is not adjusting to his diminished ability/output very well? Or is there a deeper personality conflict that we don't hear about?

John Hollinger
  (2:04 PM)

Roy hasn't liked Miller being there from the moment he arrived. He lobbied for Steve Freaking Blake to start ahead of Miller last year. It's not a personality conflict, though -- it's a basketball style conflict.

Jerome (ATL)

Prior to the injury, was Dirk your MVP so far? Does the injury actually strengthen his case, given just how bad the Mavs have been (albeit in a small sample of games)?

John Hollinger
  (2:05 PM)

It's idiotic for the Toronto game to strengthen his MVP case, but that does tend to focus minds (much like Nash's five-game absence ended up helping him in his first MVP year). One other thing that may help him: It's quite possible Wade and Bron split the Miami vote.

Joe (Phoenix, AZ)

John, What are your thoughts on the Lakers moving Bynum back to the starting lineup. The defense looked great last night and I thought bynum looked especially strong. Your thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (2:06 PM)

Thought it was inevitable that it would happen at some point because this is how they'd like to line up in the playoffs. I also think it's easier for a huge guy like that to warm up and then play right away.

Richie (Arlington, VA)

Is it that Roy's knee is completely shot or the unorthodox style of Miller that is diminishing the number's B Roy is putting up this season?

John Hollinger
  (2:09 PM)

Well, Miller was there all of last year too. So I think it's pretty easy to conclude it ain't him. By the way, Roy will sit out again tonight and Blazers said more information will be released later ... (cue ominous-sounding music)

Nick (Wisconsin)

I know that there's a lot about Derrick Rose's game that people like to talk about, inefficiency or perhaps his new found 3 ball, or his passing ability but how about his improved defense? Under Thibs he has improved considerably in this (as has his rebounding). I kind of like how this has gone unnoticed in people wanting to praise him, because it was arguably the 2nd thing he really needed to work on (behind a 3 ball). Thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (2:10 PM)

I sort-of agree. Rose was a horrible defensive player under Vinny and Thibs has him giving a lot more effort. He should still be better than he is, and I don't think anyone will be using defense as a plank in their pro-Rose arguments for the time being.

John (Daejeon, South Korea)

How valuable is Horford in terms of trade assets, considering his position and that he is locked up for the next five years after this? He can score from the block or facing and doesn't need the ball much to be effective.

John Hollinger
  (2:13 PM)

And, since nobody has mentioned his name yet, he's also the answer to my item above. Al Horford leads all NBA big men in EWA this year -- not Howard, not Amare, not Gasol. And the top frontcourt combo? That would be Al Horford and Josh Smith. Atlanta's bigs are carrying them and it will be a shame if they miss the All-Star Game because a few doofuses still think it's Joe Johnson's "team", whatever that means.

justin (lehi, ut)

With Haywards big play last night will that mean Utah feels strong enough to trade Ak for some cap relief. Maybe to Houston for jeffries, Lee, and Battiea. Gives Utah Defense and a SG for the future

John Hollinger
  (2:14 PM)

I wouldn't get all crazy off one good game against a terrible team. Hayward's overall play has still been very underwhelming this year, and at any rate the Jazz aren't nearly deep enough on the wings to start shedding more bodies.

John (Texas)

Your projected wins have the Spurs at 60. Do you really think they will go 33-18 the rest of the year??

John Hollinger
  (2:15 PM)

It's pretty reasonable actually. I'm sure you've noticed that San Antonio's schedule gets considerably more difficult starting, well, now. It's highly unlikely they'll win 26 of their next 30 games, let's put it that way.

RPK (Chicago)

Rose never played "horrible defense". His size, quickness, and leaping ability at least made him an average defender. It's not easy for a rookie pg to come in right away and play lights out defense. But it's ok, you've been underrating DROse since day one and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

John Hollinger
  (2:16 PM)

Actually, yes he did. His rookie year he played almost no defense at all and would just stop moving anytime he hit a screen. He got a little better last year but I don't think Vinny every really challenged him to try much on that end. Thibs clearly has.

Demetric (Atlanta)

That's my point; you don't live in Atlanta; its Joe Johnson counrty here; since he came he turned around a 13 game wining season to 53 last year. His contract was good compared to Reshard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas. You so called "experts" always disrepct the Hawks, picking us to finish last every year. Go worship your Leborn poster!

John Hollinger
  (2:18 PM)

Just to show that Laker fans aren't the only ones who can be unreasonable ... and, actually, I do live in Atlanta.

Ron (Michigan)

After T-Mac's performance at Point Guard for the Pistons last night against the Boston Celtics should the Pistons consider starting him at PG?

John Hollinger
  (2:19 PM)

I'm not sure he has the legs to start every night -- he looked like he needed a nap in the Charlotte game -- but he's very clearly the best (only?) passer on the team and it's a marked difference from watching Stuckey and Bynum pound it for 23 seconds.

Dellis (DC)

What's the most damaging mistake a GM can make: (1) Blowing a top 5 draft pick (i.e. Kwame, Thabeet); (2) overpaying a free agent in a long-term deal (i.e. Roy, Joe Johnson); (3) trading away a talented young player for personality reasons and then having him flourish elsewhere (i.e. Beasley)?

John Hollinger
  (2:22 PM)

I think the overpay is the worst because it's so hard to wriggle out of it. If you make a bad draft pick you essentially keep getting do-overs every year until you get it right - for instance, if a hypothetical GM were to use consecutive top-five picks on Shelden Williams and Marvin Williams, he might still be able to get Al Horford the next year. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Ryan (MPLS)

How have u not answered a question on the biggest NBA topic right now. Have you heard anything more on KG's injury? If he is out for a while do u see them making a trade or reaching out to Sheed?

John Hollinger
  (2:23 PM)

I'm waiting like everyone else. Any Boston moves would depend on how long he's out, but I have to think they'd count on Jermaine O'Neal to fill in most of the minutes. But Chuck Hayes hurt his ankle at practice today, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen -- how's that for an injury update?

Jason Turner (Toronto)

Why isn't amare mentioned more often as an mvp candidate?

John Hollinger
  (2:25 PM)

This is a joke, right?

Kris (Anchorage, AK)

Which pair of twins have the deeper library of incriminating GM photos: the Collins or the Grahams?

John Hollinger
  (2:26 PM)

What, did you not see JC's flying transition dunk in the Hawks' win in Milwaukee the other night? I think that was his first dunk since an intrasquad game in his junior year at Stanford. But to answer your question, definitely the Grahams. I know why the Collinses are in the league -- they're big, they defend and they're plus locker-room guys. I have no idea why the Grahams are still around.

Kevin (Charlotte)

T-Mac isn't the only person at Charlotte Bobcats games that look like they need a nap.

John Hollinger
  (2:26 PM)

well played.

Nick (Baltimore, MD)

Laker fan here. Actually agreed with your post yesterday about what was wrong. How easy will it be for the Lakers to catch SA if they play the way they did last night?

John Hollinger
  (2:28 PM)

The problem is that they have so much room to make up and, as much as San Antonio's schedule is getting more difficult, so is L.A.'s. If you presume it will take about 62 wins for the top seed, L.A. has already taken half the losses it can absorb, and done so during the easiest part of the schedule. Basically, their margin for error is totally gone.

B (New York)

In your opinion, will Carmelo Anthony want to sign an extension if he is traded to NJ? I highly doubt he would.

John Hollinger
  (2:29 PM)

I think ultimately he would. But it's also insane for NJ to trade all those assets without assurances. As I've been saying for a while, the entire Melo deal is one huge game of chicken.

Chris (Los Angeles)

Why is Madison Square Garden labeled "The Mecca Of Basketball"? Pretty high praise for a building that doesn't have many championship banners. If anything, you would think the old Boston Garden or Forum would be

John Hollinger
  (2:30 PM)

Pretty high praise as well for a building that's actually kind of a dump (Sorry, just the messenger folks). To me the mecca now is Staples. The games just feel more important there.

Jeffrey (Cleveland)

What do you do for fun John? When I'm done working (or breaking for a chat, for that matter), I read about sports. What does a sports writer do outside of their chosen profession?

John Hollinger
  (2:31 PM)

Actually I love to travel. Which works pretty well in-season too. But in the offseason I go a little farther away ...

josh (dc)

Even though it's still early, who do you think is the biggest bust in this year's draft?

John Hollinger
  (2:33 PM)

So far it has to be Evan Turner, although he played well last night. Ekpe Udoh has also looked horrific, although I want to give him more time.

Imre (Missoula, MT)

Speaking of Stadiums/Arenas...what are your favorites?

John Hollinger
  (2:36 PM)

We have different agendas than most fans, but for those of us who cover the league Phoenix is definitely the best place to do it. I like the crowds in Portland and Boston the best; aesthetically I like Atlanta and Dallas the best; oh, and if I want to listen to heavy metal during the game I would definitely go to San Antonio. Haven't been to the new Orlando yet or Conseco in Indy, so will have to check those out soon.

Biju (New Hyde Park, NY)

Will there be a fire sale for the Bobcats soon?

John Hollinger
  (2:37 PM)

They're putting up a brave face right now. I think Silas has two months to try to get them in playoff position, and if that doesn't happen then Jack, Gerald and Diaw will be goners at the trade deadline.

aaron (orlando)

Has anybody noticed how good brandon bass has been since moving into the starting lineup?

John Hollinger
  (2:38 PM)

I maintain that the biggest benefit from the trade for Orlando is simply replacing Lewis with two better players (Bass and Anderson) that were already on the roster.

Ryan (LA)

Are the Bulls going to make a move to add a shooter or will they disappoint us yet AGAIN!!!! We understand getting a player like Jackson will be tough will our current roster, but a player like Anthony Parker, Mickael Pietrus or Martell Webster would HELP this team!

John Hollinger
  (2:40 PM)

Here's the question for the Bulls -- what's the bait? They don't have large expirings and the young assets are guys they want to keep. They're basically trying to use some combination of Brewer, James Johnson and the Charlotte pick to get a serviceable 2 who can shoot, and is enough of an upgrade to warrant shedding those kinds of assets .... let's just say it won't be easy.

Austin (Atlanta)

Who has the best young nucleus in the NBA among the lotto crowd?

John Hollinger
  (2:42 PM)

Gotta be the Clippers. Griffin-Gordon-Aminu-Bledsoe is a pretty potent combo down the road, at least until the Clippers figure out how to screw it up. I know it seems impossible now, but I bet they find a way.

Lionel Hollins (Memphis)

I'm going to last the enitre season, right? I mean who else could they get to coach them... bwahahahaha

John Hollinger
  (2:43 PM)

In general, there will be fewer coaching and management changes than normal this year because several teams will just grin and bear it until the lockout and then make their moves.

Brad (detroit)

John-on the topic of the Bulls, would they have any interest in obtaining the services of RIP Hamilton?

John Hollinger
  (2:45 PM)

I keep getting asked about this -- basically, it's impossible to make the money work. Rip is on the books for $12.6 mil. Chi has no exceptions and all their "bait" players make less than $5M. Would need a third team involved, and at that still very unlikely.

Peter (Portland)

Is Thabeet unsalvagable? I can't help but think that with a change of scenery (and a good big man tutor) that he could become a decent big...

John Hollinger
  (2:47 PM)

He sure *looks* unsalvagable, let's put it that way. Perhaps he could be more productive in a better environment but he's a loooooong way away from even being decent.

Cole (Indianapolis)

Is Jim O'brien on the hot seat? With the recent Pacers struggles it would seem so, since the Pacers are a talented team.

John Hollinger
  (2:51 PM)

Really? To me they're a bunch of half-good players. Danny Granger isn't playing well, and that has nothing to do with O'Brien's rotations or anything else -- he's just not having a good year. You can argue that Collison should be playing more, and that Solomon Jones should be playing less, but really ... when you have a bunch of players who are roughly as good as each other, the rotation is going to change a lot depending on match-ups.

Rod (Chicago)

If Roy sits the season, at draft time do you think Cleveland should offer their #1 pick for Roy and then fit his deal into the LBJ exception?

John Hollinger
  (2:51 PM)

That would be the only way to make the LeBron sign-and-trade the SECOND worst trade in Cavs history.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Nice joke about San Antonio roads. I think it took over 10 years to expand a few miles of the inner loop.

John Hollinger
  (2:52 PM)

That long? I just know it seemed endless. Barely recognized the place now that they're done.

Rod (Chicago)

What is Anderson Varejao's trade value?

John Hollinger
  (2:53 PM)

This is the placeholder for the 4,038 Varejao trade questions I've been assaulted with. Right now the teams that need him the most are in the worst position to get him -- i.e. Miami and Atlanta have nothing to trade, OKC doesn't want to take on $$, etc. I could see Houston making a strong run at him.

Aaron (NYC)

You forgot about DeAndre Jordan when mentioned the Clip's young core! He had 14 points and 7 Blocks last night - definitely some potential there.

John Hollinger
  (2:55 PM)

Most scouts I talk to are lukewarm on him -- not sure he's shown much interest in improving as a player, let's put it that way.

ward (portland)

Any scenario where the Blazers could trade Roy?

John Hollinger
  (2:56 PM)

Only if they take on an equally undesirable contract in return. I think at this point they're probably stuck with him for a while, at the very least until the other side of the lockout.

Frank (DC)

how does ATL need Varejao? didn't you just say the have the most potent PF/C in the league right now?

John Hollinger
  (2:57 PM)

Could easily move Horford to 4 and Smith to 3. In fact that's probably how they'll line up tonight with Marvin Williams out, so we'll get to see human trampoline Jason Collins perform his magic again.

Cliff (Sac)

Can the Kings really build on Evans and Cousins? They are really talented, but it doesn't feel like the Kings are actually moving in any specific direction.

John Hollinger
  (2:59 PM)

No, they're not. They throw things at the wall and throw a party when something sticks. The one thing they've done well is draft, but they've struggled to develop the talent they acquire.

ian (portland)

What do the Blazers have to do to convince Kahn to take Roy?

John Hollinger
  (2:59 PM)

He may be their only hope at this point.

Bernard (Chicago)

I thought True Hoop had a great link in the bullets section this week illustrating Rose using his fade away push shot once he got into the lane vs. the Knicks. Did you check out the link and if so, is his reliance on that shot part of the issue with getting to line?

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

Yes, that's absolutely a huge part of the season he doesn't draw fouls -- he's seeking to float in that shot rather than create contact. A player with his athleticism and so many shot attempts should be getting 10 FTAs a game.

TS (Los Angeles)

Do you think the clippers should/can move kaman? What do you think of Deandre Jordan as a starting center going forward?

John Hollinger
  (3:02 PM)

I think Kaman is pretty phenomenally overrated, so I'd like that move from LAC's perspective. I can't go so far as to endorse Jordan as the center of the future, however.

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have, and no, I have no Garnett news to report. Thanks again for all the great questions and have a happy new year everyone.