Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 7, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (4:07 PM)

Greetings all ... Big week for the numbers crowd with Blyleven getting into the baseball Hall of Fame, which basically happened because over a period of 14 years the analytics folks were able to make an overwhelming argument that eventually convinced even the most hardened skeptics. Baseball needed 30 years before this type of stuff really impacted how people thought about award votes (Blyleven, Felix, Greinke, etc.); we'll see if hoops moves any more quickly.

darnell (durham, nc)

I am curious what you think of Gerald Henderson's game. It seems like he is getting some playing time now that Larry Brown is out. Is he a future starter?

John Hollinger
  (4:08 PM)

I kind of doubt it. His offensive game is pretty limited. He does have some potential at the defensive end, but he has to get better as a spot-up shooter to stay on the court.

John Hollinger
  (4:10 PM)

By the way, since I get asked this every week by Bobcats fans, no, there is no rational explanation whatsoever for their refusal to start Tyrus Thomas. He's been their best player so far this year and he's playing 20 minutes a game for one of the worst teams in the league. I know he's kind of a headache, but this is completely ridiculous.

Darnell (Tucson, AZ)

Your recent insider article discussed the need to trade Steve Nash. Where do you foresee Nash playing post-trade deadline in 2011?

John Hollinger
  (4:11 PM)

It may very well be Phoenix. Just because it's logical for the Suns to trade Nash doesn't mean they're going to do it.

Jay (Tacoma, WA)

Nellie is long gone, but the Warriors remain one of the league's worst defensive teams. Is this a legacy problem with their system? Or is it the players on the court? Can this be fixed?

John Hollinger
  (4:12 PM)

Well, his former 'defensive assistant' is the head coach, so I don't think too much has changed. But also, the personnel isn't exactly suited to lockdown D. I suspect the new owners will be busy post-lockout, let's put it that way.

ron (chicago il)

bulls bench is one of the deepest in nba

John Hollinger
  (4:13 PM)

Except for all the others. I actually consider Chicago to be on the thin side. Two replacement level players (Thomas and Bogans) get regular burn.

Ben (Los Angeles)

Please tell me the Bucks offense will get better.

John Hollinger
  (4:14 PM)

The fact Maggette played well the other night is an encouraging sign, and Salmons has been less awful of late too. Your hopes are pretty much tied to those two players starting to play effectively.

Ben Colorado [via mobile]

When will the nuggets finally make a move? Like Charles said last night the fans in Denver deserve something better and this team just goes through the motions

John Hollinger
  (4:16 PM)

Here's the thing everyone forgets: Denver can wait til after the season to trade Melo. Because he has an opt-out rather than an ending contract, the Nuggets could wait until 11:59 PM on June 30 before dealing him. They couldn't swap him for expirings then, however, which would take some potential deals off the table, but still ... I'm surprised they haven't taken a longer look at this.

John Hollinger
  (4:17 PM)

As for Denver's recent play, the irony is that they're finally getting healthy and should be playing their best ball. I'm as puzzled as you are but I wouldn't use it as an excuse to make an immediate trade either -- this is still a potentially dynamite team.

Disco (Chicago)

Why's O'Brien going small and limiting Hibbert?

John Hollinger
  (4:19 PM)

O'Brien's limiting Hibbert? If you mean limiting his minutes, sure ... but that's a response to Hibbert's dramatic dip on production over the past month. I know Obie's rotations are a little crazy sometimes, but big-picture Indy is a Dennis Green team -- they are what we thought they were. I'm not sure why everyone's acting surprised.

Ian (Portland)

Is Aldridge an All-Star?

John Hollinger
  (4:23 PM)

Sure, if he gets traded to the East. Not sure if you've looked at the Western Conference power forward lineup lately, but Aldridge is still several pegs down the list. He'd need to play like he has for the past ten games for another month, with no let-up, and the Blazers would have to stay over .500, for him to have a shot. And that's just to have a shot.


What's wrong with Danny Granger?

John Hollinger
  (4:24 PM)

I'm as puzzled as you are. Not sure if he's a half-step slower or what, but he hasn't been nearly as potent a scoring threat and it may keep Indy out of the playoffs.

Bulls Management (Chicago but Philly today)

how many all-stars do the Bulls get? first in division and a good record... is noah possible even injured?

John Hollinger
  (4:25 PM)

One assured, two possible (if Boozer plays very well), three not happening. Noah has virtually no chance because Howard will be voted as the starter, Al Horford is a lock as a reserve, and Bogut is going to poll very strongly as a third center. Even without the injury he was facing some long odds.


Don't u think the NBA should start re-categorizing the all star ballot. I think they should do PG / SG & SF / PF

John Hollinger
  (4:26 PM)

1 point, 2 wings, 2 bigs. Everyone who has watched more than five games in their life agrees this should happen. Not sure what's taking them so long.

Disco (Chicago)

Who replaces Yao as West AS starter?

John Hollinger
  (4:27 PM)

The commissioner makes the selection from the reserves picked by the coaches; I'd be shocked if it wasn't Pau Gasol.

Danny (jacksonville, fl)

Does a player lose his shot to be an all star because his team is mediocre. B Griffin is posting great numbers and posterizing half the league, yet he cant be an all star.

John Hollinger
  (4:29 PM)

I wrote about this last week, that the coaches' habit of overvaluing win-loss record (and in particular, the distinction between a few games over. 500 and a few games under), would be a huge factor working against both Griffin and Kevin Love. I think Griffin has been so awesome that he'll get in anyway, but I'm not as sure about Love.

nick (pueblo, co)

is there any truth that the nuggets are looking to trade chauncey billups? perhaps in a package with carmelo?

John Hollinger
  (4:32 PM)

Anything that happens with Billups would happen after they dealt Melo, but as I've been writing all year, logically it's the next domino to consider. Al Harrington is another player who might have a new address if Denver goes the rebuilding route.

Brandon (North Dakota)

Is Orlando's GM Otis Smith going to make a trade for a back up big man before the deadline, and who are they going to give up? I dont think he is ready to part with J.J. Redick and no-one wants Duhon or Quentin Richardson.

John Hollinger
  (4:33 PM)

Yes, he will, but you point out his quandary -- he's mostly offering stuff that nobody else seems to want that much. He may have to up the ante and offer Daniel Orton and/or a first. Either that, or hope a veteran big is bought out (Dalembert?) and lands in his lap on March 1.

Disco (Chicago)

Who you like of these 3: Ed Davis, Greg Monroe, Ekpe Udoh?

John Hollinger
  (4:35 PM)

Still like Monroe the best. He is a uniquely awful finisher around the basket, it's really quite amazing. But in terms of passing and feel for the game, he's got it and the other guys don't, so I have to think he'll figure the rest out and become a good offensive player. Davis is raw and could be good in time. Udoh is the oldest of them and has looked very shaky so far.


Is Jeff Green in the Thunder's future?

John Hollinger
  (4:37 PM)

Highly debatable. I think they like that he's low-maintenance and can space the floor, but they don't value that enough to match a wild offer from another team. If OKC can keep him at reasonable $$ they will, but they have a lot of guys to pay over the next few years and have to manage the dough carefully.

Marcos (Miami, Fl)

Bucher earlier in his chat said that the Heats style of play will impede them from winning a championship b/c they have no post presence. Even compared them to a less potent offensive Phoenix Suns team with superior defense. What say you? can they win a championship with what they have?

John Hollinger
  (4:39 PM)

Remind me again who the Bulls' post presence was when they won those six titles? Sure, it helps to have a low post scorer, but several of the best offensive teams in history haven't had one. People overvalue post scoring when what they really mean is halfcourt scoring ... and Miami has three players who are quite good at that.

Az (Chicago)

Who should be the starting PG for East in ASG: Rondo or Rose?

John Hollinger
  (4:41 PM)

Rondo's injury makes it easier to endorse Rose. His #s are quite a bit better and he's played nearly 400 more minutes.

Darko Milicic (Minn.)

Do you see any All star appearances in my future?

John Hollinger
  (4:45 PM)

Define "appearances." Do you mean, "appearing," like showing up and taking a victory lap en route to your seat the way Chris Bosh did during the NBA Finals games in L.A? Or maybe "appearing" as a prop for Harrison Barnes in a future dunk contest? Something like that? Sure. Or maybe you mean appearing in an All-Star Game in an another country, like say the 2016 Adriatic League All-Star Game in Ptuj, Slovenia. He could totally do that ....

Coach Pop (Texas)

How concerned am I about the back-to-back Jimmy Chitwood-like shooting percentages we've given up lately?

John Hollinger
  (4:46 PM)

I was at the Boston game and the Celtics made so many long jumpers in that game that it wouldn't trouble me very much. The Knicks game, on the other hand, was awful.

Disco (Chicago)

If the lockout wasn't looming would Westphal, maybe Rambis or Kuester be fired by now?

John Hollinger
  (4:47 PM)

I think Rambis would be safe regardless, but there's no question that the reluctance to pay front office, coaches and staff through a lockout has chilled the entire market. I'd be very surprised if we saw much change between now and the end of the year, but I expect a flurry of moves once the lockout ends.

Collin (Knicks)

Can you see the knicks being a spoiler to any of the "big boys" in the playoffs?

John Hollinger
  (4:49 PM)

Highly unlikely, just because I think the top four teams in the East are so much stronger than everyone else. New York will be this year's OKC -- ecstatic to finally have the playoffs -- and for that reason winning there will be more difficult than usual for Chicago or Orlando. But they have a lot more talent right now.

From The 3s (Washington, D.C.)

Hi John, Do you ever see the league expanding to another country? Would they give Canada another team before trying somewhere overseas or Mexico City?

John Hollinger
  (4:52 PM)

It's not completely outlandish to think they might try again in Vancouver at some point, but that would be a relocation and several other cities seem to be ahead in the queue. I expect any expansion the league does in the next ten years will be overseas, in Europe, which I suspect is one thing David Stern would like to have rolling before he steps aside. For travel reasons it would likely have to be an entire division at once, with four or five teams. London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona seem the most likely suspects.

RZA (Virginia)

When should Portland start thinking about the future and trade Camby, Miller, etc for picks and young guys?

John Hollinger
  (4:54 PM)

Not quite yet -- they're playing pretty well and I think they want to be 100% sure (as opposed to the current 99.8% sure) that Roy is done as an All-Star caliber performer. The deal that makes the mos sense is putting Miller into a three-way deal that brings back Devin Harris, perhaps as part of a larger Melo trade. I think Harris would be great in Nate's system with all the high isos.

RoytheBoy (Cleveland)

The Cavs are supposedly "quietly shipping their entire roster" according to a certain ESPN columnist. Any ideas as to who could be coming and going? I know Scott wants a big man but please don't tell me its Andre Blatche...

John Hollinger
  (4:55 PM)

Cleveland isn't shopping to acquire players as much as assets -- draft picks, cap space, players who can be used in future trades, that sort of thing. Even if they bring back a player you don't like I wouldn't freak out ... chances are he won't be around for long anyway. This is a full tear-down, and it's gonna take a while.

Kyle (Cleveland, OH)

Would it be wise for Cleveland to take a chance on Yao or Greg Oden (assuming they can pull off a trade)? I know the injuries make them risky. But wouldn't a team like the Cavs have to take chances like that? Seeing as how it's almost impossible to attract free agents to Cleveland, how else can they build a winner? You can't always get lucky in the draft.

John Hollinger
  (4:57 PM)

On the heels of that last question, a gamble on Yao makes no sense because as an unrestricted free agent he'll just go someplace else. But Oden? That makes all kinds of sense, especially given his Ohio connection. That would be a worthwhile roll of the dice in this situation.

Nate McMillan (portland)

my system? You think im gonna be in portland net year? your crazy! im outta there as fast as i can get!

John Hollinger
  (4:58 PM)

Realized that as soon as I hit "submit" on the last question ... but for half a year at least, it might work real well. And who knows, maybe McMillan comes back. There's gonna be a coach/GM freeding frenzy when that lockout ends and some weird things are probably gonna happen as a result.

BJ (Indiana)

No Utah questions yet??? I thought their ranking in today's PER was a bit low...what kind of difference would taking +/- into account make on those rankings?

John Hollinger
  (5:00 PM)

Utah's bench has been effective because of its defense, so in that sense today's column gave them short shrift. But that said, it's a pretty limited bunch and for that reason I have trouble trusting their +/- from the first 30 games.

Austin (Atlanta)

Jeff Green for Demarcus Cousins, what do you think? Anything else needed to sweeten the deal?

John Hollinger
  (5:01 PM)

There is a better chance of the Thunder moving back to Seattle than there is of them trading for DeMarcus Cousins.

Omar (Miami)

How would a european division make any real sense?! At what time would the games be televised in Europe.... 3 AM? Also not to mention the ridiculous travel schedules... What would european teams go on the road for a month?! That doesn't seem fair or practical.

John Hollinger
  (5:03 PM)

The travel part actually isn't that bad once you go through the logic -- Euros would be in North America for roughly 30 games, which makes three 10-game trips or four 7-8 game ones. Not fun, perhaps, but doable. TV, on the other hand, is going to be a nightmare, especially during the playoffs. Suppose Paris is playing London in the conference finals and nobody in the U.S. can watch because they games are on at 2 PM on a Wednesday in the States. Not sure how they work that stuff out.

John Hollinger
  (5:05 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions. You can follow my missives from tomorrow's Hawks-Pacers game on Twitter at @johnhollinger ... we'll do this again at my usual time next Thursday.