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May 26, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (2:07 PM)

What's up everyone? Just heading back from the Western Conference finals, where it was quite a raucous scene in Big D. Let's talk ...

Corey (Evanston, IL )

What does Derrick Rose have to do offensively to get over the Bulls over the hump in this crucial Game 5?

John Hollinger
  (2:08 PM)

I think it's as much on his teammates and coaches as Rose. With Miami throwing the kitchen sink at Rose, the Bulls need to stretch the floor with their 3-point shooters, punish Miami with second shots and create different looks for the Miami defense. Just iso-ing Rose against LeBron ain't gonna cut it.

Ted Shannon (Atlanta)

Do you have to buy Marc Stein a round of In n' Out burgers now or something?

John Hollinger
  (2:09 PM)

Fortunately we didn't bet anything on Dallas-Portland or I'd be paying him in beef right now. Although I thought the Thunder fans chanting "What-a-burger" in Game 4 got to him.

Ron (RI)

What do you think of the Mike Brown hiring?

John Hollinger
  (2:10 PM)

didn't think it was bad. Brown's resume is as strong as that of just about anyone who was out there, and I suspect he'll be better in this go-round than he was in Cleveland just because coaches, like players, improve.

Rpk (Chicago)

Do you see Westbrook staying in OKC?

John Hollinger
  (2:11 PM)

Yes, I think they'll give him the max extension and roll with him and KD. They know he's going to improve as a shooter and a decision maker because he already has to this point; you should have seen him two years ago. The big thing that's changed is the level of scrutiny.

chris (nyc)

Does OKC's loss mean you're done travelling for the playoffs?

John Hollinger
  (2:12 PM)

No, I'll be heading to the Finals next week. Although I'll miss that Coffee Slingers in OKC.

Luke (Alanson, MI)

Thunder's depth seems to be a gift and a curse, because their starting lineup isn't always their best. Do you think Brooks is up to the challenge of juggling this roster and what would you do differently next year?

John Hollinger
  (2:13 PM)

I think he is, yes. Obviously a healthy Perkins is going to be a greater force and make OKC tougher to guard, but I also suspect Harden may start next year. The other thing to look at is a bigger role for Maynor; I wouldn't have rolled with him at PG for the entire fourth last night, but the Maynor-Westbrook look with the bench unit out there was a productive one.

Travis C. (Lake Highlands)

Westbrook for Rondo, who says no, and why?

Bob (ATL)

Westbrook/ibaka for CP3, who says no?

John Hollinger
  (2:15 PM)

They're not trading him. Move along. He's 22, just like the rest of their core, and they won 55 games and made the Western Conference finals. If you know anything about the Thunder it's how incredibly patient hey are; they sure as heck aren't gonna blow things up now.

chris (nyc)

Will OKC be able to sign Ibaka and Harden (and even Maynor)?

John Hollinger
  (2:16 PM)

They'll be able to keep Ibaka and Harden because those are priorities. Maynor I think will be tougher, especially given the realities of their market. But they have him for two more years no matter what.

Ryan (OKC)

In two years the Thunder will really regret the Perkins trade? Most overrated player in the NBA

John Hollinger
  (2:16 PM)

you mean because Jeff Green was killin'? Perk was hurt but he'll be better next year. Green was getting destroyed on defense; he couldn't guard good 4s.

Marques (Utica, NY )

If LeBron had the same fourth D-Rose had in game four, would he have just been given a choke collar and some water by the media?

John Hollinger
  (2:17 PM)

Pretty much, yes. The differing narratives about Rose and Westbrook in these playoffs continue to amaze me.

Luke (Alanson, MI)

Has anyone done an analysis of how many non-Finals series would have turned out differently if they were best-of-five? In other words, what % of the time does the first team to 3 wins lose?

John Hollinger
  (2:18 PM)

Only 15% of series teams with a 3-2 lead have lost the series, so it's a pretty rare event.

Brett (ATL)

As the only ESPN writer who is aware there in an NBA team in Atlanta, please indulge us. Any news/rumors? Smoove's future? Ownership? anything.

John Hollinger
  (2:25 PM)

I think they may look at trading Josh, yes, and I think he would welcome that. As far as ownership I think if somebody showed up with a check they'd take it, but I haven't heard about anything cooking. Dumping the hockey team probably makes it easier for them to stay in the game on the basketball side.

Ben (Taylor)

Provided Heat do make finals, are Mavs toast if they can't steal at least one of the first two games?

John Hollinger
  (2:26 PM)

History says yes, although the Mavs provided one of the exceptions in the last Dallas-Miami finals. Normally losing the first two on the road is pretty much a death sentence; 94% of teams lose in that scenario.

Danny (San Jose, CA)

Do you believe in the Ellis / Curry backcourt? And as a follow up, what do you think West may "advise" the GSW management to do to improve the team this upcoming offseason.

John Hollinger
  (2:27 PM)

I think he'd going to move one of them, more likely Ellis, although he can get more for Curry. I think the biggest thing with West is that he's going to change them into a more traditional basketball team from all this run-and-gun, losing 130-120 stuff they've been doing.

Adam (LA )

As a die hard Laker fan I don't mind the Mike Brown hiring but I'm still scared to death that Jim Buss is going to run the franchise into the ground. Are my worries waranted?

John Hollinger
  (2:28 PM)

I think a lot of people share your fear. Let's put it this way: He's an unknown quantity, and he's biting off an awful lot right now.

Philip (Germany)

Would you trade granger for no.2 pick, flynn, webster and cash?

John Hollinger
  (2:30 PM)

Interesting deal .. I'd definitely think about it. But I'm not sure Indy needs to pursue a salary dump right now given that they're already under the cap.

David (MN)

Westbrook is the PG of the future, but do you see him playing off the ball more often if Harden is in the starting 5?

John Hollinger
  (2:30 PM)

Yes

TK (Dallas)

Scale of 1 to 10- how shocked were you by the Cho firing?

John Hollinger
  (2:30 PM)

14

Philip (Germany)

How about a kaman-igoudala trade? It just makes to much sense, doesn't it?

John Hollinger
  (2:31 PM)

I don't have any inside info on this, but it wouldn't shock me at all; with extra pieces coming back to Philly.

JJ (Toronto)

Bargnani in a S&T for RFA Nene?

John Hollinger
  (2:32 PM)

Only if you can convince the Nuggets to hire Isiah Thomas as team president.

Danny (San Jose, CA)

As many have noticed and said, KD looks like he is not in the flow of the offense (many occasions watching someone else dribble the ball). Who should be responsible for that? KD? Westbrook? Brooks?Or the easy answer, all the above?

John Hollinger
  (2:33 PM)

Brooks is really pushing KD to get better moving without the ball, which is his biggest weakness. Watch off the ball -- a LOT of plays called for him get blown up because he's not open and end up with Westbrook having to improvise something.

Sam (San Antonio, TX)

Who would the Mavs prefer to play in the Finals, and can they beat either team?

John Hollinger
  (2:34 PM)

I think they'd much rather play Chicago. Bulls match up better against Dirk, but that drive-kick-space stuff is a pretty good elixir for the Bulls' brand of defense.

Frank (Houston)

If the Heat win the Title, will you be surprised or not at all?

John Hollinger
  (2:35 PM)

Well, I picked them before the season, and again before the playoffs, and I was the one pointing out that their point differential remained solid even while they were 9-8 ... so, no, wouldn't come as a big shock to me. Now, Dallas winning? Didn't see that one coming.

Aaron (Los Angeles)

These playoffs have been the first time that I have watched a lot of OKC, do they normally make as many mistakes and get rattled or was there just too much pressure?

John Hollinger
  (2:37 PM)

They normally don't play teams as good as Dallas. Their weaknesses were somewhat exposed against Memphis too, they're just talented enough to offset it most nights. This is what I wrote about after the game -- they're talented, they play hard, and they play together, but they still have a lot of holes in their game just because they're so young.

RJ (Vegas)

If the Heat win a championship this year, do you think they will win for the next five years as well?

John Hollinger
  (2:38 PM)

You're underestimating how many variables go into winning and how quickly things can change. But Miami will be a heavy favorite next year, without question.

Kevin (Ohio)

Is Dwyane Wade the 2nd best player in the NBA behind Lebron?

John Hollinger
  (2:38 PM)

I think Dwight Howard is, but you can make a very strong argument for Wade. Let me put it this way: The three best players in the game play in the state of Florida. I don't see how anyone can dispute that.

jeff (jax)

i know that you said OKC isnt trading westbrook, but wouldnt they have to take Howard and filler for Westbrook and Ibaka. seems like it would better both teams.

John Hollinger
  (2:39 PM)

Because Howard is going to re-sign in Oklahoma City? Reality check for all the people proposing Howard trades: he's not doing flyover states.

Chuck (Chicago, IL)

Could you see Chicago trading one of their young pieces (Taj or Asik) to upgrade at the shooting guard position? I feel like they will eventually lose out on Taj and/Omer because they will demand starter money and they won't be able to pay them because of Derrick, Boozer and Noah's contracts.

John Hollinger
  (2:40 PM)

They had a chance to deal Asik for Courtney Lee and wouldn't do it. I think the Bulls are more likely to trade this year's No. 1 pick for a shooting guard than to deal one of those bigs.

Alex (Houston)

What's your outlook and predictions for Memphis next year? Much potential or just lucky year?

John Hollinger
  (2:41 PM)

I think if Gasol returns they're a 50+ win team, considering that Gay's return provides the one element they really missed in this postseason.

Dizzil04 (Chicago)

Do you think the bulls roster is flawed due to having too many 1 way players?

John Hollinger
  (2:41 PM)

The biggest "flaw" right now is that they're playing the Heat. But Chicago does need more wing scoring to take some of the pressure off Rose.

Josh (Miami)

Has Miami completely proven once and for all that the regualr season means NOTHING?

John Hollinger
  (2:43 PM)

Au contraire -- Heat led the league in point differential. The narrative about the Heat this season, especially early, didn't correspond to reality.

Colin (Chicago)

Does Dallas realistically have a shot against either team from the East? I mean come on, the West was just as soft this year as the Mavs are

John Hollinger
  (2:44 PM)

Dallas will be underdogs against both but I think they match up very well against Chicago. Against Miami ... yikes. I don't know what they do about those wing match-ups.

Dizzil04 (Chicago)

No chance the bulls have enough assets to get Monte Ellis, correct?

John Hollinger
  (2:45 PM)

No chance the Bulls WANT Monta Ellis, more importantly. Could hardly imagine a worse fit.

Nix (OKC)

Are the Thunder set as far as personel go or do you think they need one more piece to the puzzle?

John Hollinger
  (2:45 PM)

90% of the way there. The main players will stay the same, but they may have a different 4th big if Mohammed doesn't come back (Aldrich? Mullens?) and they'll probably sign a wing shooter to replace Cook.

Evan (Boston)

What is the situation with Oden? Do you think that Portland will offer him the qualifying offer? What do you think he's worth in the open market? Does none of this matter because we are headed for a long and painful lockout?

John Hollinger
  (2:46 PM)

I'm trying to stay optimistic about the lockout. As far as Oden goes, I do expect a qualifying offer from the Blazers, but it's going to be interesting to see how the negotiations play out if they don't have a full-time GM yet.

Baby wipes (Godsend)

How many times will the Thunder make it to the west finals in the next 5 years?

John Hollinger
  (2:47 PM)

I'll say three or four. Really think the sky's the limit for that team, and most of their competition is going in the opposite direction.

Cody (NH)

No way Dallas won't run the zone against Miami to force Wade/James into jumpers right?

John Hollinger
  (2:48 PM)

I expect a lot of zone, yes, but remember Miami has some very good 3-point shooters. They'll have to pick their spots with it.

Mike (edmonton)

There is a lot of discussion about how the Mavs winning a title boosts Dirks all time status. There hasn't been much about how it would affect jason kidds. Where does winning a title put kidd as an all time great?

John Hollinger
  (2:49 PM)

I don't think it changes his legacy much. Put it this way: did you think differently about Gary Payton after the Heat won in '06? I know Kidd has a greater role than GP did then, but Dirk and JT are the guys whose legacies will be most affected.

Jay (Tacoma, WA)

I know it's hard to tell with the CBA uncertainty, but which playoff team do you think will look the most different when next season rolls around? Who's going to make the most changes?

John Hollinger
  (2:51 PM)

Good question. I think you have to look at Orlando first and foremost, depending on how the Howard thing shakes out.

Ryan (LA)

Bulls NEED to open the vault and make a BIG offer to Orlando for Howard. Pairing Howard and Rose is the only way Chicago gets over the Miami hump IMO. Deng, Noah, Gibson and picks for Howard and Hedo.

John Hollinger
  (2:52 PM)

I love the idea of Rose-Howard but I'm not sure Chicago is on "The List." Again, if Howard won't extend, there's no deal to be made.

Ryan (San Mateo, Ca)

do you have a Per Diem coming out later today?

John Hollinger
  (2:54 PM)

yep should be up soon.

JD (NY)

John, if Buss is being serious about Bynum being "untouchable," doesn't that make the Nets the favorites to land Dwight?

John Hollinger
  (2:54 PM)

We'll see how "un" the "untouchable" is, but yes, if the Lakes won't go there and Howard is amenable to Brooklyn (which it appears he is), the Nyets would have the inside track.

Josh (Miami)

If the MVP vote included playoffs, any chance LBJ isnt unanimous pick?

John Hollinger
  (2:55 PM)

I think there's a 7-foot German guy that would get a vote or two.

Steve (Mobile)

I know I'm not supposed to read much into "intangibles," but what was your feeling from the arena about the mental state of this Mavs team after last night's non-celebration celebration?

John Hollinger
  (2:56 PM)

The non-celebration was mostly confined to Dirk. I was in the tunnel right after that, going to the OKC locker room, and he walked by like he was going to the mall. Then, after him, came a bunch of guys whooping, hollering and hugging.

Ryan (San Mateo, Ca)

Player (besides Dirk) that's impressed you the most during this years playoffs? Player that's disappointed you the most?

John Hollinger
  (2:58 PM)

In terms of what I thought of him going in, I'll go with Mike Conley. He's a much more effective defender than I realized, gets his hands on a lot of balls. Nick Collison, too -- I knew his +/- numbers were sick but really got to appreciate why. As far as disappointed, I'll say Wilson Chandler.

Joe (NY)

Would the Grizzlies have beaten the Mavericks?? I think so. They would have played better D than OKC and would have beaten up Dallas in the paint

John Hollinger
  (3:00 PM)

I know the Mavs weren't excited about that match-up because of having to defend Z-Bo, but the Grizzlies are such an easy team to zone against and Arthur was the only guy remotely capable of guarding dirk (unless they put Allen on him). I had Dallas winning that series in five because I just didn't think the Griz could score enough.

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

Now add Rudy Gay to the equation and it's a different story -- I think that immediately tilts the match-up playing field in Memphis's favor. Now that we're talking about this, I'd really like to see this series next spring.

Jessica (MT)

Should Danny Crawford be barred from reffing the finals?

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

Um, the Mavs have won the last couple Crawford games. I'm not sure the "effect" is even statistically significant anymore.

Elias (IL)

Is Dallas really good, or is the West just weak?

John Hollinger
  (3:02 PM)

West is a little down this year, yes, but the Mavs also won 10 of their last 11 games and have basically done whatever they want on offense against three very different teams.

Anthony (New York)

This isn't 2007. Dirk eats smaller defenders like Tony Allen for breakfast now.

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

He eats defenders LIKE Tony Allen for breakfast, yes. Tony Allen himself? I'm not so sure. That guy is an absolute beast.

Philip (Germany)

how in the world did dallas reach the finals without butler and roddy buckets?

John Hollinger
  (3:05 PM)

Because Peja Stojakovic found the fountain of youth and has basically replaced Butler's production while taking better shots, and because Beabuois's injury caused them to stumble into an optimal backcourt arrangement, and because, well, sometimes stuff like this happens and a team just catches lightning in a bottle.

John Hollinger
  (3:06 PM)

Folks that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions and we'll do this again before Game 1 (or Game 2 if the Heat win tonight) next week.