Greetings from someplace over New Mexico. I'm headed to All-Star weekend in L.A., a supposedly festive weekend that instead will feature somber, introspective Angelenos wondering how they could get both rain and the Lakers losing to Cleveland in the same week.
Early start today! Gotten your coffee fix yet?
Yessir ... my flight time demanded moving this up. Hopefully everyone is coping. Feeling appropriately caffeinated. Let's do this.
Does all the "The Decision" backlash cost LeBron the MVP? Or is it D-Rose's regardless?
I think it may hurt him in the voting. As I've noted here before, I don't totally get all the Rose momentum. To me LeBron and Dwight Howard are a clear 1-2 and then we can start discussing "creative" votes for the rest of the ballot.
Do you still think Chris Paul is the greatest. His last 5 games have been horrible. He only took 6 shots last night and the Hornets continue to lose. He is just not the same player he was, admit it.
Bad couple of weeks from CP, absolutely. He's still first among point guards in PER, but I gotta wonder how much his knee his bugging him right now. Incidentally, Hornets are suddenly in danger of falling out of playoffs entirely, as are Jazz and Nuggets. It's theoretically possible that seeds 5 thru 8 in the West could be Memphis, Portland, Phoenix and Houston.
What do you think was the biggest All-Star snub? For me you have to go with LaMarcus Aldridge, then Steve Nash.
The thing you have to remember about Aldridge is that he's doing the equivalent of scoring after the buzzer -- sure, he'd make the team if we did a re-vote today, but that's not when they voted. At the time, his body of work wasn't as impressive. I still don't get how Tim Duncan is on the team; one of Nash, Aldridge or Z-Bo (who for some reason everybody completely dismissed) should be in there instead.
What do you think of the rumors of a Devin Harris for Andre Miller swap? Why would the Nets do this?
That's the part I don't get. Harris-Miller makes a lot of sense from Portland's side, even if Miller is a better player right now. From New Jersey's? A lottery team getting ten years older at the point? That's silliness... would have involve a third team to move Miller there.
They way the Blazers are playing right now, once healthy, they might be one of the scariest dark horses out there? I know if I'm a higher seed in the West that I dont want to play these guys!
I actually don't see the Blazers as being that scary unless Roy comes back as productive sixth man. Right now they're scraping by with a paper-thin rotation by playing everybody 40-plus minutes, but you can't get through the last three months that way. Add Camby and a halfway-decent Roy to the mix, though, and it becomes a much different proposition. Otherwise, the bottom seed in the West that is the scariest for top seeds is definitely Memphis.
We are witnessing the fall of the Jazz. Once they're down right terrible, how do they ever recover?
Let me offer a slightly different take on Utah -- they won a ton of close games early in the season that made them look a lot better than they really were, and lately they've lost a ton of close games and it's made them look a lot worse than they really are. They're obviously reeling but between the Gay injury and a likely Melo trade, they may not have to play that well to get into the playoffs.
Seems like a big drop off from top 3 in East to the 4-6 seeds. Will the #1 seed be super important considering you would then only have to face 1 of the top 3 in the conference?
Completely disagree -- Orlando is much better than its record indicates and is a very worthy adversary in the second round. East is loaded 1 through 4, but first round is likely to be cakewalk city unless Philly can put a scare into Chicago/Boston.
Thoughts on the Bucks? If they could hit a shot they would've beaten DEN last night. Any chance they make a deal to improve the offense?
I'm not sure many deals are out there right now unless they want to trade Jennings or Bogut, and I don't see that happening. Let's face it, if those guys combine to shoot 2-for-18 (like they did last night), they're sunk. The only potential savior might be Michael Redd... and even that one is kind of a longshot.
Not long ago I think you called Ronnie Brewer a 'sub-par defender'. He was 3rd on ESPN's DPOY rankings this week and is an important part of one of the best defensive teams. Are you going to reconsider?
I'm amazed at how much more Thibodeau has gotten from him at the defensive end. Utah tried him in the stopper role and he basically failed, but he's been part of an extremely effective second unit in Chicago. Although I'll also say this -- the engine for that group is the frontcourt combo of Gibson and Asik. They can't score in an empty rooom, but they've kept opponents in lockdown.
What are the chances dork Elvis down in Houston pulls off a big trade?
He's trying like crazy, and has been for months. Speaking of D.E., we're just two weeks away from the Sloan Sports Conference in Boston -- the annual sports geek extravaganza. I think I might be more excited about that than the trade deadline.
Is my plan crumbling? or are the trade deadline going to make me look like a genius?
Ok, so is Minnesota feeding me the money for no reason? Im cool with that.
I'm not sure that "plan" is really the right way to describe what Minnesota is doing, but one thing they seem really focused on his body-snatching (the focus of today's Per Diem, by the way), and I think grabbing Anthony Randolph will be a reasonable risk on their part. As for Darko, he's a halfway decent backup center. That's it. Not sure why Wolves got so carried away.
Danny Granger has some name recognition but with his contract and the fact that he would be a No.2 option on a good team does he have any trade value at all.
He absolutely has trade value ... I just hope you weren't expecting to get a ton of assets in return. The trick with Granger is finding a deal that makes Indy better, and it's a tough one.
If you were the the Bulls would you gamble on JR Smith or OJ Mayo even though they could really mess up team chemistry?
JR Smith is the easier gamble because he's a free agent after the season -- if he doesn't work out, just let him walk. But obviously, you only do that if it won't cost you much to begin with, and I'm not sure Denver is ready to go there. Mayo is the more difficult calculation because they'd be picking him up as a long-term piece.
Nice recent wins for the Warriors make them look pretty decent. The long road trip after the All-Star Break probably brings them back down to earth. So what is the next step for this team?
1) Eject the rest of the Cohan-era leftovers; 2) Hire a defensive coach (I would take all the money I could find and offer it to Jeff Van Gundy); 3) decide which of Ellis and Curry to keep and which to shop; 4) win.
Who will Jeff Green be playing for on February 25?
Thunder. I don't anticipate them doing anything serious until the new CBA rolls around .... but I'm not sure Green is going to be with the team in 2012-13, let me put it that way.
Do you think deron williams or cp3 will be a knick (2 years)?
I think CP is the more likely of the two, just because I suspect DWill is more amenable to the other coast. But remember, if the Knicks get Melo they're going to be hard-pressed to get either player to NYC.
I know its hard to predict now, but for fun, do you think you would pick a Knicks team w/ Melo to win a first round playoff matchup?
Not in this year's East. Those are four pretty fearsome teams at the top of the table.
The Hawks really could use a PG to play the pick-n-roll game with Horford/Smith. Any suggestions?
I'd love to see them snag Ramon Sessions, I think he'd be great running screen-roll and finding easier shots for the bigs. And yes, I thought that before last night too ... long-time readers know I've always been a big Sessions guy.
Any chance AK47 gets dealt before the deadline? If so, any rumors on who/what the Jazz might get for him?
We haven't heard much chatter from Utah, but I can't imagine them paying luxury tax to miss the playoffs or, at best, land a first-round beating from San Antonio or Dallas. Kirilenko would be the guy to move, in return for much less salary and likely less talent too.
Just how good is Kyrylo Fesenko? Also I hear he is quite the funny guy.
He's more funny than good. Fesenko is truly hilarious, yes ... but he also enjoys the night life too much and needs to commit himself to the game. He'll never be much of a player offensively, but on D he can be a tremendous force because he's huge and moves reasonably well.
The Spurs frontcourt stinks unless Duncan goes back to being a 25 and 12 guy. The other guys aren't gonna get it done against teams like LA and Dallas. What can they do to upgrade??
Given that DeJuan Blair destroyed the Lakers when I saw the two teams play in December, I'm not sure that's a valid assumption. But remember, San Anto also has 7-footer Tiago Splitter in reserve, and can mess up the Lakers with Bonner on the perimeter. Also, the Lakers need to get to the conference finals, which isn't something we can just casually assume these days ...
Howard has almost closed the gap in PER between himself and LeBron. Is his defense the deciding factor in who should win MVP?
The thing to remember is that LeBron has been a tremendous defensive force this season too, and he's been able to stay on the court much longer than Howard does. So I still say LeBron. But you can argue Howard, yes.
Just how panicked *are* the Lakers, really? Is it as bad as some are saying? Or do they just need to rest over the break?
Here's my take on the Lakers, and I've bee saying this for a month: The difference between this stretch and the past two years is that in the past there was always an obvious reason any time L.A. struggled -- Bynum or Pau was out, or Kobe was hurting (like end of last year), or something of that ilk. Right now they're one of the healthiest teams in the league, with only Barnes missing, and while they're still pretty good, they look nowhere near championship caliber. THAT's why they need to worry -- because even at full strength, they're not looking that strong.
Could the Lakers get Melo and Nene from Denver for Bynum and Luke Walton?
Only if Michael Heisley buys the Nuggets in the next week.
Are the Magic seriously looking at Zach Randolph to add alongside Dwight? And how well would that work on the court?
Look all you want; can't imagine the Griz trading Z-Bo when they're cruising toward playoffs and could end up as high as 5th in the seedings.
Lakers lose to the Spurs or Celtics in the playoffs?
I think we need to start treating the possibility of Dallas making the conference finals with a little more respect than we have been. Right now it's no contest which team is playing better.
I keep hearing the Clips are looking to upgrade the wing and have eyes on Prince and Mayo, are they going to make or move or just stay with what they have?
Unfortunately, if you're a Clipper fan, you already know the answer to this question.
Blazer rumors? Got any juicy ones?
The Devin Harris stuff is definitely real, but they're worried about his durability -- Miller never misses games, Harris misses 15-20 a year. That's a concern. Also, I'd be surprised if they moved Camby -- top goal this year is still "make playoffs", and now that they're playing so well I have a tough time seeing them strip it down for parts.
Should the Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace in a cost-cutting measure and try their luck at the lottery? Or is the playoff money a good enough incentive to keep languishing in the race for 7-8-9 spot?
We haven't heard much noise from the Cats either, after they had an initial burst of quality play under Silas, but they're still in 9th and could certainly use the savings young assets they could get by trading Wallace or Cap'n Jack. Smoke signals point to no trades, but I wouldn't be shocked if they changed course either.
Any rumors on the Kings front?
About players or cities? OK, that was a cheap shot ... but Sacto arena issue still looms heavily in background for any decisions Kings make, because the money is tight right now. BTW, add Vancouver to your list of potential landing spots -- they've been sniffing around teams and have a viable arena.
Gotta try the cheese burger at Hinano in Venice beach while in LA
1) I defer to Marc Stein on all L.A.-area burger recommendations, 2) the odds my attempting to go from downtown to Venice on All-Star weekend are roughly equal to Hasheem Thabeet's odds of winning the scoring title.
Besides Melo and Nene, I have read that JR Smith might be traded also. Is there any truth to that?
Yes, he's an expiring contract and I'm not sure if they want him back, so he's definitely in play. Problem right now is that he's a lesser domino, so (as with seemingly everything) we gotta see what happens with Melo first.
Jerry Sloan tried to make a roster full of athletic undersized frontcourt players into a defense first team. Round peg, square hole. He was famous for this. What kind of changes do you think Tyrone Corbin will make with the Jazz? Open up the offense and make the Jazz the 2007 Suns?
Actually, the Jazz under Sloan were primarily an offensive team; defensively their main attribute was that they fouled more often than any team in basketball virtually every year for a decade and a half. I expect Corbin to change the defensive tactics more than the offensive ones, but we may not see meaningful differences until next season.
Are the Suns cannibalizing their future by NOT trading Nash? How soon do you think we'll start to see the possibility of new ownership in Phoenix?
New ownership? Ha! Sarver just bought them a couple years ago. Good luck with that. As for the Suns -- yes, they totally are. But I'm told Sarver is reluctant to be The Guy Who Traded Nash. Most interesting thing I saw, however, was the quote from Bill Duffy (Nash's agent) in Stein's last Weekend Dime, basically saying they expected something to happen after the season.
Any talks in Seattle about getting the Key Arena upgraded?
Not really. Unfortunately. I'm really missing that Portland-Seattle-Vancouver swing teams used to make through the Pacific Northwest.
Please tell me the Pistons will move Rip before the deadline?!?!?! All we need in return is an expiring contract of a garbage player.
Even that may be tough to come by given the onerous last two years on Rip's deal. I still think that extension was an even greater mistake than the Billups trade.
Are the Nets - Nuggets talk simply a rumor to get the Knicks to bite?
I carry a reasonable suspicion of that into anything I hear about the Nuggets talking to another team, or about Melo signing the extension with Denver.
What are your thoughts on the Sixers overtaking NYK for the 6 spot? They've been quietly playing good ball for the last two months. Who are the long term keepers on the team?
I do think the Sixers will overtake New York, though it will come down to a game or two either way. I think virtually everybody is a keeper given how young they all are, which makes them scary going forward. Even Iggy. People dump on Iguodala's contract, but compare him to the other wings in the league, especially the ones that defend -- he's fairly paid.
Could there be a Kirilenko Rip deal done?
Can't see it. If Utah trades AK they're taking on somebody who makes substantially less money and is either expiring or has, at most, one year left on his deal. AK for Rip keeps them in the tax and just puts them in further hell going forward.
do you think the grizzlies will make a trade with the recent loss of Rudy? or do you think it is more likely that they will sit and just shop mayo/not even make a move at all?
I think it definitely makes a Mayo trade less likely, and it also underscores that the Griz bench is much less awful than a year ago -- with Tony Allen and Sam Young along with Mayo, they can probably weather the storm. The one glaring weakness is against bigger threes, as Young is 6-6 and Allen and Mayo are 6-4. But I think they can bounce along at .500 for a month and then make another push once Gay comes back.
Odds of Greg Oden being moved for some asset?
Minimal. Have heard nothing whatsoever on this front and I believe the Blazers intend to keep him.
Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns on July 1st, 2004. Nearly seven years ago!
Thanks .. time flies. I still think of him as a new owner. He's still not selling.
I think a strong case could be made the Iguodala is the best wing defender in the league -- do you agree? His "shutdown" list this year is impressive: Kobe 9, Carmelo 12, Granger 7, Pierce 10 and 11, Ginobili 8, Joe Johnson 6, and most recently Kevin Martin 9. When will he get some national recognition?
He's always been underrated at that end, and I thought he'd get more acclaim after he served as Team USA's stopper this summer, but it hasn't come. But best wing defender? Sorry, that's Tony Allen. Sky-high foul rate, so he can't do it for as long, but when he's on the court he's flat-out ridiculous.
Hollinger, give it to me straight: Is Gilbert Arenas finished? Would I have been better off just hanging on to Rashard Lewis?
I believe so, yes. I maintain the Phoenix trade was a net positive, but the lone advantage from the Arenas trade was simply replacing Lewis with Bass and Anderson. Although I will say -- Arenas is still better than what Duhon was giving them.
john its not silliness for nets when you get rid of OUTLOL! after this year prziblla is free agent and miller and rudy will be under expiring contracts great trade for nets!
I'm dubious that Outlaw would be part an actual deal, I think that's wishful on New Jersey's part. But you're right -- if he IS in the deal, and Przybilla's expiring is all that goes back, then a Miller trade makes a lot more sense for the Nyets.
Any rumors on the Hawks front, like a Bibby trade?
Every Hawks fan wants them to trade for a point guard, and I think management wants to too, but Atlanta doesn't have a ton of assets. Best hope is that somebody takes a shine to Marvin Williams.
Troy Murphy is a near perfect fit for the Hornets - true or false?
I say true. And I must again complement the Nyets on doing such a fantastic job of destroying his trade value.
Christian Eyenga. Do the CAVS still look silly for drafting him? He looks very promising.
Here's what I want to know: How the heck is that guy not in the dunk contest? Really, we're gonna put Brandon Jennings in it but we're not taking Sky-enga? By the way, that dunk last night is just one of several spectacular flights he's taken; my fave was a block on Monta Ellis a few weeks ago where he went above the square on the board.
Folks we're starting to wind toward SoCal so I have to wrap this thing up, but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again next Thursday -- that should be fun, eh? -- and in the meantime you can catch all my missives from All-Star Weekend.