Greetings from the icy ATL, or as the Star Wars geeks here are calling it, "Hothlanta." Just back from New Orleans where I saw an OT thriller between Hornets and Magic ... let me know what's on your mind.
Dallas was pretty promising at the beginning of the year, but the Butler loss seems huge. What do you think they can do in order to compete this year?
The Butler loss??? Hello??? Seems to me they had another injury of fairly large importance recently that might be a more crucial reason they've gone 2-6 in their past eight games. I agree losing Butler gouges a hole in their rotation, and I suspect they'll end up trading Butler's expiring contract to fill it. Whether they fill it with true quality or, well, filler, will be key in whether they can go past ho-hum-we-lost-in-the-second-round-again status out West.
Let's say the Suns stay this bad until the trade deadline, and Nash tells management that he thinks it's best for everybody if he gets moved. What trades, really, are out there?
Tons. I know a lot of the good teams are set at point guard, but there is going to be interest from New York, Atlanta and Portland for certain, from Dallas even if it's a little awkward, and I suspect from a few others (Orlando, Houston, and even the Lakers come to mind).
Do you like the Lakers chances of catching the Spurs for the #1 seed?
No. Too much ground to make up, and I'm not even sure it's that important to them to do so.
Does both Blake Griffin and Kevin Love merit all-star selections? I would like to see both both on the all star team.
I think Griffin is going to get in fairly easily. I think Love has a much tougher road, just because I get the impression the crusty old school types aren't totally sold on his game yet. As for who *deserves* to get in, I'm going to reserve judgment until I've seen the entire body of work. It's splitting hairs with the West power forwards right now.
John, the Bulls inept play at SG is holding this team back. Are you led to believe they will make Taj Gibson and a 1st available for a long term solution at SG and have you heard they are looking to make a deal?
Obviously Chicago needs to look at upgrading this spot, but I'd tread carefully about trading a long-term piece like Gibson when they should be able to fill the spot adequately with decent draft/free agent moves. The Bulls aren't winning the title this year, but they're as well positioned as any team in basketball going forward. They shouldn't do anything rash to screw that up, no matter how much Bogans is killing them right now.
How would you evaluate the Magic after 12 games with the new players, yesterday's game was somewhat unsettling.
Look, if you keep getting wide open 3s for J.J. Redick and he keeps missing them, the offense is going to look bad. But Stan was upset that they've stopped running, because that's what really energized them during the win streak. (One thing I didn't put in the story from last night by the way: Redick was actually surprised how open he was on that last 3 to tie at the end of OT and said he should have taken more time. He thought Thornton was a lot closer but had his back to him as he went up).
Am i the worst starter in the game?
Until Noah comes back, you might not be the worst starter on your own team.
Financially speaking, why is it in a player's best inerest to sign an extension before a probable lockout season, and do you think it can impact Carmelo's decision to sign with New Jersey?
The new collective bargaining agreement is likely to have terms that are much less favorable to the players, so the presumption is that Carmelo would be wise to lock in his pay rate for the next four seasons right now (it's a three-year extension but he's already on the books for 2011-12 if he doesn't opt out), rather than testing an uncertain new salary cap regime.
You said a couple weeks ago that Phoenix was an attractive free agent destination. Maybe that was true in the past, but do you think in the "post decision" NBA a big name player would agree to be on Rob Sarver's team?
Phoenix still has weather, great trainers, and for now, a guy most other players have near the top of their "guys I'd like to play with" list. Obviously there's some concern given how quickly they've managed to dismantle a championship contender, but they still have a lot of advantages on the Indianas and Minnesotas of the world.
The Hornets seemed lucky to pull that game out. They passed on fouling Dwight 2x before Hedo got his wide open 3. Then CP3 passes on taking the final shot of regulation (with 7 seconds left).Is Paul the best PG in the league if he defers to West on that shot?
BOTH those players shocked me. For those who didn't see, Hornets were up three in the final seconds and let Dwight Howard handle the ball *twice* without fouling, eventually leading to a wide-open Turk 3 to tie it. And then, on the last play, they isod for West rather than letting CP clear out up top. I would agree with you that CP's late-game deference (a season-long trend) hurts his stature in the MVP race, although I still think he's been the league's best PG this season.
When are you coming back to Cville to watch the hoos this year? Maybe they can retire your jersey this year.
Unfortunately I don't think they retire mousepads. Haven't been back to Hooville in a long time actually, it's not exactly a place you end up passing through ... but I'm still hoping the Hoos hoopsters can relive the Stith-Crotty glory days from when I attended.
Yes or No: Ricky Rubio starts for T-Wolves next year.
I don't think he's coming next year, even if there's a league for him to come to.
Will Baron Davis stay motivated and "injury" free for the rest of the season? He's been showing shades of "We Believe" recently.
C'mon, you know the answer: It's all part of the tease. As soon as you begin to trust it, that's when he sticks the knife in.
Do you think that Portland will do something come the trade deadline? If so what scenarios are there.
I do expect the Blazers to make a move, with the expiring contracts of Andre Miller and Joel Przybilla the most likely to move. Rudy Fernandez is another one who could have a new home soon. I'd still be shocked if they dealt Batum, however, -- they aren't very deep at the 3 and they historically have been very reluctant to deal the kids. Also, I hear they're getting a lot of interference from the "Vulcans" there, so that's going to gum up the deal-making process.
No poems for you!
Actually Redick was great after the game. Said the shots all felt good except the last one ... they just didn't go in. One of them was a wide-open 3 from up top that sailed all the way over the rim and slammed into the backboard ... shocking to see from such a good shooter.
Who deserves to be Starting PG for the East: Rose or Rondo?
Answered this last week but I'll say it again -- I think Rondo's injury TO takes it from an extremely close race to a pretty easy call for Rose.
Do you think that the ATL Hawks may make any waves come playoff time or they just the 3rd best team in the Southeast Division?
I'm actually starting to get sucked in, because the Smith-Horford combo is such a difficult match-up for opponents. But they're not going to beat good teams in the playoffs with four good players (I know Miami is doing it with three, but that's a pretty special three) ... they've gotta look at trades to upgrade either the 1 or the 3.
who has a qulity big man to add to orlando magics bench?
The scenario that still makes the most sense to me is a Sam Dalembert buyout in Sacramento ... Magic just need somebody to play ten minutes and not kill them, so they don't need to set the bar real high here.
Lakers winning by 50+ points affected the Lakers power rankings greatly. Is there anything in your formula to limit the effect of an outlier result like this?
Yes, and it's called "the season." In the second half of the year when a game like this is 1/60th of the season rather than 1/30th, and 1/20th of the "recent games" component rather than 1/10th, a single result like this is going to matter a lot less. But we can only go on the games they've already played, so right now they have a heavy impact.
Who does Stern select as injury replacement for ASG starter Yao?
Pretty easy call I think -- Pau Gasol. The only fly in the ointment is if he ends up the starter at forward after a Melo trade; in that case I would encourage him to stretch the definition of "center" and start Dirk.
Rudy Gay has improved his PER this season! Mike Conley is playing the best ball of his career. Memphis management decided to give these two guys "ludicrous" contracts. Who's laughing now?
It's like I said when I was down there and went on Chris Vernon's show -- these are "25-75" contracts. It might work, maybe 25% of the time, but usually it won't. The fact Conley is playing better doesn't mean he's worth more than the midlevel (which won't even exist in the new CBA) for half a decade, especially since he's still getting lit on D. Same idea with Gay -- his deal doesn't look quite as bad as Conley's empirically, but you still wonder if they could have had him for $20-30M less if they played their cards differently.
Assuming everybody stays healthy, are playoffs reality for the Clippers?
Sure, if they play all their games at home. What you have to understand about the Clippers is that a) they're 3-11 on the road, and b) they have TWENTY SEVEN road games left. Even if they go 14-13 in those 27 road games -- which would be a spectacular achievement -- the Clips would be at 37 losses for the season, and would have to be nearly perfect at home just to finish with a winning record. There's plenty to be encouraged about here, don't get me wrong, but they basically blew it playoff-wise before Christmas.
What do you think of den/nj trying to add portland in their Carmelo trade. Pryz and Batum seem a little steep for Devin Harris?
I'd be kosher with Przy and Batum, because it still leaves the door open to trade Miller to refill the hole at the 3. I get very squeamish about Miller-Batum for Harris, however, because now you're creating two holes and only filling one.
Where does CJ Miles rank on the sixth man of the year race?
He's worked himself into the "others receiving votes" portion of the ballot. Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry and Thaddeus Young would still be the top three, with Lamar Odom a potential addition if he keeps coming off the bench ... but Miles is pushing to get into that group.
Do you see the Grizzlies sneaking into the playoffs this year as is? Or do they need to make a move to help their bench to do so?
Nobody is rooting harder for an Anthony trade than Grizzlies fans, because that's probably what will determine whether they get in or not. I'd say Memphis is looking pretty solid in the race for No. 9 compared to Houston, Golden State, and Phoenix ... but to move up they need one of Portland, Denver or New Orleans to tank. Denver is clearly the most likely suspect.
The Wizards should trade Nick Young right now, right?
Mauer is interesting because usually he's one of the best and most consistent refs, but it seems like once or twice a year he does the ref equivalent of shooting 1-for-18 with nine turnovers.
When are we going to hear an apologize from Otis Smith to Hedo, (after what he said to Pritchard 1,5 year ago)
For those who don't remember, Otis basically told Pritchard that he dodged a bullet when Turkoglu bailed on the Blazers last summer, and it proved prophetic. I know Turk has generally been very good since coming to Orlando, but it's a small sample and he was pretty lethargic last night, so I think we're still a ways away from apologies.
Did you respond to the wrong question, John?
Looks like I did. Somebody asked me about Ken Mauer handing out five Ts in ten seconds in Minnesota the other night. Looks like I pulled a Nick Young question by mistake.
John, I'm so sick of hearing how the Knicks have not nearly the assets the Nets have with regard to the Melo trade. The nets have 10 wins and the Knicks have 22, so clearly the Knicks' "assets" can't be that bad, can they?
Are they planning on throwing Amare into the trade? How about Felton? Because that's basically the difference between the two teams. And the Nets have a zillion draft picks and this year's No. 3 in Favors, whereas the Knicks already traded their picks to get the cap space to sign Amare and Felton in the first place.
Saw your quick tweet on the Bobcats last night? Something more coming? What are your thoughts on the team under Paul Silas? 8 seed? They really should be 7-1 under Silas (that loss to the Warriors was ridiculous).
It's been mostly home games and mostly bad opponents, so I still don't totally trust it, but the nice thing about the East is that one doesn't need to play that well to compile the 38 or so wins necessary to make the playoffs. They'll need to keep taking care of business, however, because Bucks and Philly have better schedules.
Are any deserving All Star players in the East outside of the top 6 teams?
Andrew Bogut. I suspect he'll get in as a mea culpa for his exclusion a year ago. Otherwise, I think the rest of the roster will come from the top six in one form or another... unless Carmelo Anthony and/or Chauncey Billups get traded to the East.
John, what did you think of Marcus Thornton last night and do you think he could be the answer to the Hornets' bench struggles?
Could be, but I'm still a little on the fence. He runs hot and cold, and doesn't help that much if he isn't hitting shots, which he hasn't this year. Also, his #s from last year (especially the insanely low TO rate) were a little too flukey to put a ton of trust in going forward. That said, they haven't given him much rope, and given the mediocrities playing the 2 instead of him I think he needs to get more of a chance. If Belinelli can't play Friday it might be his shot.
Is there any hope for the Warriors or should we expect them to languish in the "not-quite-good-enough-for-the-playoffs" range for the foreseeable future?
I think there's a lot of hope. The biggest question is whether the new ownership will snap the Warriors out of the pattern of eating their own young that they've engaged in for much of the past two decades, and on that front I'm cautiously optimistic. Their three key players don't defend so it will be tricky getting the right mix of role players, but they're positioned to get much better in another year or two.
when is the nba going to expand with more new teams? and to what city's?
Not for a long time, and when they do I doubt it will be in North America. Stern has talked often of establishing a five-team division in Europe at some point off in the future. Who's up for Paris in 2020?
How long untill the pacers make a trade or sign someone that can put them in the contenders role??
Pacers are going to have cap space after the season, but it's not like Carmelo is itching to get to Indiana. Where it will help them is in trade scenarios. They've finally got rid of all the bad contracts that dragged them down for the past half decade and can move forward, but I agree it's a bit frustrating watching them finish ninth every year.
There is a big debate on the Clippers board on ESPN...was Kaman worthy of his All-Star status last year, over say Marc Gasol...and will he hurt of help this new Clippers team?
Kaman's selection last year was a complete joke, there were about ten players who were more deserving, not to mention it violated the coach's formerly sacrosanct rule about taking players from losing teams. And you're gonna break it for that guy?
Can teams just trade injured players (such as Andy Varejao and Caron Butler) like normal healthy players? Or are there some sort of limitations?
No, they can still be traded. So somebody could conceivably acquire Varejao and just count on having him next season, or -- the more likely case -- dump a contract they don't want in return for Butler or Yao Ming, who won't play but have deals that expire after the season.
Was my All-Star selection a complete joke or a partial joke?
He had no business being there either, but at least in his case there was some kind of precedent that this was how the system operated.
Please tell David Kahn that SCURRY is playing pretty well so far in his young career. We have one guy who's never stepped on the floor and another who goes 1-6 with 3 turnovers in 10 minutes each night. Good work Kahn.
Duly noted. The nice thing for the Wolves is that they'll keep getting chances to pick in the top five until they get it right.
Nice to hear you optimistic about the Dubs for the first time...ever. (With good reason, of course). As a fan, I've been especially happy with the signings by the new owners: D-Wright has been a really pleasant surprise and Lou Admundson was a nice pick-up at the cost. Competency is AMAZING.
Seems like just yesterday they were getting tooled around by Stephen Jackson -- not even by an agent, but by a player. Welcome to the big leagues, Golden State. Hope you can stick around for a while.
Folks that's all the time I have, but thanks for all the great questions. Check out my dispatches from Saturday's Rockets-Hawks game on Twitter at @johnhollinger (yes, they'll play it -- ice should be melted by then) and we'll do this again next week.