Good afternoon from the East Coast, and a good morning (or not) to those of you on the West Coast who like the Lakers. My condolences. They certainly know how to flame out with jet fuel, eh? All NBA topics are open for discussion today, but I want to hit a little on NBA labor because I wrote about it last week, along with Chris Broussard, after the owners submitted their new CBA proposal. Off we go ...
Hi Chris. Say, did you happen to hear the Lakers lost a playoff series TO A DIFFERENT TEAM? I wasn't sure as all of the stories today have been about them and not this apparent "opponent" of theirs. Evidently the only team better than the Lakers....is the Lakers and they swept themselves.
Here's the thing on that, because I'd imagine they are a little upset today in Dallas that the focus of the national media yesterday was on the Lakers, not the team that beat them. But when you have what was possibly Phil Jackson's last game as a head coach, and when the Lakers go down throwing cheap shots, you have the makings of a story that cannot be ignored as the most compelling. So that being said, ultimate props to the Mavs for the way they took them out. Might have been the moment Mark Cuban cherishes most when he is old and gray.
What now for the Lakers? Slight tweaks and move on? "Blow it up" ever so slightly (read: trade Pau, Bynum, or Odom)? And is there any concern that Kobe reverts to "trade me" mode without Phil, especially after yesterday's all-around embarrassing game for the Lakers?
The Lakers have to get an accurate reading on the possibility of getting Dwight Howard. That has to be priority No. 1, because it will determine which way they will go with their coaching choice and their long-term planning. Also, there is a time urgency that wouldn't otherwise be there because of the expiring labor agreement. Or to put it another way, if the Magic feel they are going to lose Dwight in a year it behooves them to deal him before June 30 when things could get shut down.
No mention about Kobe's 17ppg, 44% shooting, 3.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, and same number of turnovers as assists. It was so noticeble that his name hasn't come up except that he needs more help - it was all Gasol's fault.
He certainly bears some of the blame. To a certain degree yesterday he took his teammates out of it in the first quarter. But he is locked in as a Laker for life, let's be serious. Bynum and Gasol become immediately expendable if Howard is truly acquirable. Otherwise, you tinker around the edges and give your new coach what is still a very good roster and see what they can do playing outside of the triangle system.
How should the league punish Bynum?
Glad you asked, Roy, because I think the NBA needs to be proactive on this and announce whatever suspension Bynum is going to get as soon as possible. That hit he put on Barea could have put Barea out for the season (not to mention cost him millions in free agnecy). What if he had landed the way Rondo landed? Or worse, Bogut? I would say the NBA needs to send a strong message (through Bynum) right away that no more of that stuff will be tolerated. If that takes an eruption of Mt. Stern, so be it. Those eruptions tend to happen in twos, and the $35K fine on Phil Jackson may have been the tremblor. (A 12-game suspension would qualify as an eruption).
if you had to bet a million dollars.. would you say there will be 82 games next year or no?
I don't have a million dollars. I still say it makes more sense for them to settle without a lockout, but the owners have maintained their hard negotiating stance up until now, and the sides are light years apart at this moment. But I would say this: If the union continues to be flexible on the amount of money they'll get (they've offered to eliminate the 57 percent guarantee), then they'll likely end up leaving the current cap system in place. In other words, the owners are asking for two things: A bigger slice of the financial pie, and a hard cap system. They have to relent on one of those two things, and the bottom line is they want more of the money.
CAn the HEAT actually take advantage of the Celtics injuries today?? And will it be the only reason they cant beat them is due to injuries?
If Rajon Rondo has to play this series with one arm, I don't think the Celtics can beat them. A dislocated elbow is no minor thing. If Rondo can't go, how ironic would it be to see Carlos Arroyo running the point against the team that cut him?
With Kobe out of the playoffs, what player would you want to take the last second shot with the game on the line?
If you're Orlando and you're offered Bynum, Noah or Lopez for Dwight (considering they trade him), which center is more enticing?
Lopez does not belong in that sentence. My answer is Noah.
What is the explanation for NBA ESPN.Com guys incorrectly predicting so many playoff series?
It is an inexact science. Some years we do better than others. I was dead wrong on the Lakers, who I picked to win it all. I nailed the EuroLeague in last week's chat, predicting Panathinaikos would win and Diamantidis would be the MVP. I will do my best in the conference finals and finals, too, but I don't want anybody wagering on my predictions.
I thought the Rondo replays were almost as disgusting as the Livingston and Bogut injuries. The fact that he came back into the game is one of the most baddest things I've ever seen. But going forward in the series - now that the adrenaline and inspiration has worn off - isn't a two-armed Arroyo better than a 1-armed Rondo and a 1.5-armed Delonte West?
It is bad, but Arroyo used to be the best Puerto Rican player in the NBA (pre-Berea) and can create his own shot when needed late in the shot clock. Will have to see tonight, and the first quarter should be telling. Rondo is too flawed of a player to be left out there for regular minutes if he is playing one-handed.
Someone should explain to Hambone in Seattle, that Kobe shoots about 28% from the field for his career in the last 5 minutes of 4th quarters when the game is 3 points or less... Nowitzki shoots nearly 50% in the same scenario. A few game winning jumpers aside, Kobe's 4th quarter closer title is nonsense... scoring a dozen points from the line in the 4th quarter when you get the whistle for someone breathing doesn't count!
How do you really feel, Rich?
Chris, Otis Smith strikes me as a guy that is willing to go down with the ship...what I mean is that I dont think there is a chance he entertains the idea of trading Dwight. What vibe do you get in this situation?
The Magic have already been through the disaster that Cleveland and Toronto are currently going through. It happened in 1996 when Shaq left. They won't let it happen again.
All signs point to the buls winning this series, but the postseason is unpredictable. what are your thoughts on the Hawks in this series?
I liked the way they set the tone for this series in the first quarter of Game 1. They have been the aggressors, and Josh Smith showed me a lot yesterday. He was as much or more of a playmaker through the second half as Jeff Teague was. Maybe I am making too much of it, but that game last night seemed to be kind of a momentum changer. We shall see.
Who was more responsible for Durant's lack of touches on Saturday: Tony Allen or Russell Westbrook?
He had touches, but he finished 0-for-7 in the 4th quarter and OT with Tony Allen draped on him. If you missed it, you should read John Hollinger's postgame column from Game 3 in which he breaks down that matchup. A very fine piece. Very, very few guys have had that kind of success against KD.
The Chicago Bulls. Please reassure me they will win this series! This post season has been unnerving watching them. All I want is for them to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and make it competitive. That would be a successful year for this young team, right?
When you win 62 games, you set the bar higher, and they are a championship-worthy team. But when you don't have outside shooting, it is going to come back and bite you at some point. That point may be arriving, so you will receive no reassurance from me, Matt.
I believe a team can't win it all with your PG taking 30+ shots a game and being your primary scorer. Who needs to step up for the Bulls to be a true title contender? Boozer is a mess. Noah is a defender and rebounder.
Luol Deng, followed by Kyle Korver.
Would Deng & Noah be enough to get Dwight Howard?
I would imagine Orlando would want to move Arenas with Dwight, which makes Odom/Bynum more of a palpable option if it comes to that. The Bulls would not be able to take on Arenas' money.
Chris, with the Lakers out who is your updated team to win it all?
If Rondo is OK, it is Boston.
I'm not a Thunder fan so maybe I just don't understand, but why does Nick Collison make over $13 million/year with 5 years left on his deal?
They like him, and they restructured his contract to give him a bunch of upfront money with declining salaries thereafter, which makes him easier to move if they can get a better complementary piece somewhere down the road.
Chris, do you think we will see another upset? who would be your choice? Memphis over OKC?
I wouldn't call Memphis beating OKC an upset. It would be an upset if Atlanta beats the Bulls.
Jon Berry said it yesterday "something is going on in the Lakers locker room." Do you have any information about the Lakers locker room and any turmoil? Thank you
As Andrew Bynum said, there are trust issues. If that doesn't tell you how bad things were, nothing will. I think we'll all learn more details over the course of the next couple weeks, because that stuff tends to eventually get out.
If Twolves land the first pick overall, would they move it considering they are going to bring in rubio. Wouldnt be good for rubio's confidence if they draft irving.
Again, I don't see them bringing in Rubio, because he would have to go on the rookie scale. If he waits another year (and his salary with Barcelona rises quite a bit next season) he can come to the NBA in 2012 without being bound by a rookie scale that drastically reduces his options and his earning ability over his first five NBA seasons. If you ask me which European point guard will have a bigger impact sooner, I would go with Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos, whose rights are owned by Dallas. (He is an American with dual citizenship, having grown up in Florida and played for the Gators under Billy Donovan). He was their best player in the semifinal against Siena before Diamantidis took over the championship game against Maccabi.
Rondo is clearly not OK, so who's your real pick?
The Celtics have a history of overstating injuries (see P.Pierce and the wheelchair). I want to see for myself tonight how Rondo looks before I write him and his team off.
Who do you see winning game 4 in Memphis tonight? Does OKC bounce back after that 4th quarter and OT? Or does Memphis play with "grit/grind" all night and win a solid game?
I like OKC tonight, Wyatt, but those grit/gring Grizzlies (more props to T.Allen, this time for his catchphrase) have continually come up big in these playoffs when opportunities have presented themselves. Only that miracle finish in Game 5 kept them from knocking off the Spurs a game earlier. The key player tonight is Russell Westbrook, who needs to start finishing as strongly at the rim as he did last summer for Team USA when he supplanted D.Rose as Coach Krzyzewski's favored point guard.
Shouldn't the class the Mavs showed after the hard fouls be the bigger story than the lack of class of the Lakers?
Their restraint was admirable. And you are correct, Robert, it bears mentioning.
That is a wrap for this week, folks. Enjoy the games tonight and the rest of this week. This tends to be the best week of the playoffs because there are so many games. From the next round on, we'll have just one per night. :(