Greetings from Miami everyone, where we're waiting for Game 1 of the Finals to tip off several hours from now. What's on your mind?
did the heat really go through some "transformation" during the postseason or is their success consistent with what the regular season indicated?
The latter. The Heat made some subtle adjustments, including removing Z from the starting lineup, but the biggest change is that they can play their three stars a lot more minutes. People are talking about this "learning to close" non-story because of the equally compelling non-story in the regular season about Miami's shortcomings in those situations, but the biggest thing is just that Miami is a really good regular season team that ramps up to an even better playoff team because the three stars can play more minutes.
What do the Hawks need to do to get to the next level? Any player out there you think realistically the Hawks should look at going after?
They need what about 3/4 of the league needs -- a superstar. Barring that, they need to have minor stars at all five positions and only have three of them covered. The trade options out there aren't great, although I think they'll explore Josh Smith's value. If they could move him and get equal value -- which I'm dubious of -- and move Horford to the 4, that might be the start of the next step.
Will the Mavs' bench trump Miami's stars?
It's going to be difficult. The strength of Dallas' bench is against other benches, but Miami's bench hardly plays because LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all going 40-plus a night. And Dallas' bench guys are weak defenders who will have a very hard time matching up defensively. I think that's the key to the series, how those guys can line up.
Hey John, when can we expect your Draft Rater column for this years prospects?
I told them I'd have plenty of time to work on it after July 1 .... no, actually it should be out pretty soon, but we may hold it til after the finals.
Bill Kennedy is officiating game 1 according your twitter. Why is this a big deal?
Running joke with my Tweeps -- every time I show up some place Kennedy is officiating. It's uncanny.
Can Indiana make a Bulls-like jump next season if they can acquire an impact player with their oodles of cap space this offseason?
Who is volunteeering? There aren't a ton of A-list free agents and most of them aren't clamoring for the corn belt. Indy's most likely avenue to improvement is by using the cap space in a trade.
Even if the cap doesn't change drastically, will OKC be able to afford to re-sign all three of Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka?
I believe they will, yes. OKC doesn't have any dog contracts so should have just enough room to accommodate those four. The guy they'll end up losing is Maynor.
What does the data say about the 2-3-2 format. Favor any team?
Just to reiterate: There is no advantage to either side to changing from 2-2-1-1-1 to 2-3-2. The only thing it does is make it more likely that it will go six games instead of five.
What is the officiating scouting report for tonight. Javie, Callahan, and Kennedy?
Javie: Renowned for giving road team the benefit of the doubt; his presence favors Mavs. Kennedy: Renowned for handing out technicals like Halloween candy. Tyson Chandler needs to watch it, since he's three techs from a suspension. Don't know of tendencies that are as strong with Callahan.
As a big Raptors fan, anything happening on the possible rumored 3 team trade with Bargnani and Rudy Gay as the main pieces?
Quick memo to every fan of every other team: THE GRIZZLIES AREN'T TRADING RUDY GAY. Now that we've got that out of the way -- the Grizzlies aren't trading Rudy Gay. We clear yet? Rudy Gay isn't getting traded. And if, at some point in the future, the Grizzlies change their mind, they're sure as hell getting back somebody better than Bargnani.
Why does the NBA institute a 3-2-3 format for only the finals? Is it just to make the series longer? Seems like there should be a consistent schedule throughout the playoffs?
It's too hard for the league to coordinate all the ancillary stuff they have to do for an event this big if they're flying back and forth as much as five times in a two-week period. This is obviously a bigger deal if it's Boston-L.A. or Portland-Miami, but even if we had a Memphis-Atlanta Finals the logistics get pretty cumbersome with 2-2-1-1-1.
As you've heard, the Thrashers are moving to Canada; who's the next NBA team that could be on the move?
And let me tell you, my neighbors in the ATL are so very anguished and upset about this. I've lived there ten years and I can't remember one person mentioning the Thrashers to me in any context. As far as NBA teams, New Orleans and Sacramento are the most likely free agents. Don't think Sacto is out of the woods yet by any stretch; last week's "we have a great plan for an arena but all that's missing is the financing" announcement sounded disturbingly familiar.
Sorry ... had to answer the door so they could bring more coffee to my room. Stepping up my game for the Finals ... incidentally I'm quickly getting hooked on this Cuban coffee thing. Had me a little thimble of the thick sweet stuff this morning and loved it.
Speaking of Portland, what can the Blazers do to improve this offseason?
One obvious way to get better is by having a healthy Greg Oden. Beyond that, I think they have to get more shooting, and Andre Miller is the most expendable piece in that equation. I can undestand the hesitation to deal him, but unless they can find a market for Brandon Roy (good luck with that), Miller and Fernandez are the expendable pieces. I'm also interested to see what Elliot Williams can give them.
Does Will Chandler's horrible postseason performance indicate that the Nugs should move him?
He can move without Denver's help -- he's a restricted free agent. I wouldn't overreact to five bad games, though. Chandler played great in the second half of the season and is still young enough to get better.
What do you think of the Kevin McHale hire? The Houston Chronicle's fan poll has it about 70-30 against.
Two things: 1) I would have preferred Dwane Casey; but 2) as ruinously awful as McHale was as a GM, he actually did a solid job as head coach and his players liked playing for him. He has a rep as good teacher, particularly with post players, which could pay dividends with Patterson and Thabeet.
While you're down here, you should order 'Cafe con leche.' That'll keep you awake and alert.
that's on tomorrow's to-do list.
Just curious, what do fired guys like Rich Cho normally do? Look for an assistant GM job somewhere or take a year or two off and wait for another GM job to open up?
It depends -- partly on whether they're still getting paid by their former team. Cho, for instance, had three years left on his deal and I believe he'll get paid for all of them. They all keep a hand in the pie, but in different ways -- some jump right back in, some dabble with scouting/consulting with other teams, some try their hand at other things ... it's a real mix.
Any chance that the Jazz move Jefferson or Millsap for somebody that can, you know, defend guys over 6'8"? Or are they just hoping Favors can fill that role?
That's the plan, yes, and I think there's a decent chance it works. Favors is potentially very, very good defensively, and allows Millsap to play his natural role as a 25-30 minute bench energizer.
Do you think we will see LeBron guarding Nowitzki tonight?
I think they'll dabble with it -- maybe late third quarter -- but I'll be a little surprised if they play that card right away. I think they want to see how Haslem/Bosh/Anthony do first.
If Dirk doesn't get a title this year there is a pretty good chance he never gets one, right?
I would agree with that. I think Oklahoma City has to be the Western Conference favorite next year, and Memphis will also be very strong. This is likely (but by no means certain) to be the best shot he gets.
Should I really be playing Mike "no-thumbs" Miller in 4th quarters when we need shooting to bust the Dallas zone?
Miller played a bit better at the end of the Chicago series and James Jones isn't at full strength either, so it' a defensible choice. I also think Chalmers could play a major role busting the Dallas zone.
Do you think Nash will finish his career in Phoenix? Your gut instinct will do :)
No. I think he'll be traded this summer, and he'll have a strong say in where he goes as a free agent-to-be. Trying to figure out the best way to entice him to Portland. (Soccertown, USA! The closest NBA city to Victoria, BC! C'mon, it'll be great!) I gotta think Miller and Batum would be a decent package for Phoenix, although I don't know if it would win the bidding.
Will Zydrunas get any minutes this series? Or is he done for the playoffs?
It's unlikely because Dallas runs so much pick-and-roll; I think we'd only see him if Jason Kidd and Brendan Haywood are both on the court at the same time, or if Miami is playing zone.
You mentioned OKC and Memphihs being the top two teams in the West next year. Do you think LA is finished? The bench is obviously bad, but they've still got a pretty good core.
I probably shouldn't be so dismissive of the Lakers and Spurs since they had the two best records in the conference this season. I still suspect both are ready to take a step back in the standings and let the next generation through, but let's see what each does in the offseason.
Yeah, because Portland is just what comes to mind when you've got three years left and are chasing your first championship.
He doesn't want a championship. He wants outstanding parks and mass transit. Marc Stein will be reporting this any second.
I have read both Bucher and Simmons write if Jazz would have informed more teams that Deron Williams was on the market they could have received much more in return. Do you feel the same way?
Only if Williams had agreed to an extension with the new team. What made the New Jersey deal so enticing for Utah is that they could sidestep that entire circus, because the Nets were willing to roll the dice on Williams staying.
Can the Nuggets move Ray Felton for any sort of decent package? What could they get for him (since he wants to start)?
I think they will move Felton, and I think they want to get a rotation big man in return. Felton could be productive as a third guard there but I'm told he really wants to start.
You picked against the Mavs in three out of four playoff series. Just how shocked are you that the Mavs are competing in the NBA Finals?
"Surprised" is probably better than shocked. I saw Mavs-Blazers as essentially a coin toss, and I picked them to beat OKC. The Lakers series? Don't think anybody saw that one coming, no.
Who do YOU see the Bulls going after? I think they need to swap Boozer for a new big and get a SG like Wes Matthews. Any word if those 2 are available!?
Bulls fans -- stop trying to trade Boozer unless you can get somebody legitimately better to start at power forward. He has some limitations defensively but he can really score, and he'll score more once Rose gets better at making the pocket pass on the pick-and-roll (watch some old games with Deron Williams and see how often he hit Boozer on that play).
What do you think will happen to the mid level exception in the new CBA?
Dead. No chance of survival. There may be some limited form of exception remaining (like the curent biannual exception, for instance), but killing the MLE is right near the top of the owners' priority list.
With guys like Asik, D Arthur and Collison now gone....who's your favorite un-sung player to root for in the Finals?
Great question. My favorite unsung Finals player left is probably Peja, just because I'm fascinated that he looked like he was 80 years old until March and now all of a sudden is 2005 Peja.
Why do people get so defensive when talking about another player being as good as Jordan? Its like they get offended if somebody even makes a comparison
I think there's starting to be a generational issue too, as Jordan's accomplishments fade further into the past. People dared to compare Kobe, and now they're starting to do the same with LeBron. Take it from anybody who saw Jordan in his prime: The answer is No.
How is Ray Felton not a starting PG???
He's good enough to start, but Ty Lawson is better. That's why he wants a trade and will probably get one.
What's your take on Ric Bucher's argument that Derrick Rose is the best player in the NBA? Heard him on the radio basing this on how little help DRose had this year and what he was able to do, but couldn't we insert 5-7 other players on that team in his place and get the same result (stats and record wise), if not better?
Ric's entitled to his opinion but I don't agree with it. Like I've said all year, the three best players are in Florida. The arguments begin at No. 4, and this year Rose had a strong case for that position (although Nowitzki, Durant, Kobe and CP do as well).
I would ask if Bibby is the biggest stiff to ever start in a Finals, but I remember watching Radmanovic in 08.
I guess none of you kids out there remember Adam Keefe.
What's the single biggest thing/match up you will be watching for in game 1 to get a better grasp on how this series will play out?
Jason Terry and how much they can get him on the floor. The defensive match-ups in this series are very tricky for Dallas with the Kidd-Terry backcourt and I want to see how they manage it.
On my "three best players in Florida" comment above -- it's become apparent from the responses that not all of you have considered the fact that Orlando is also in Florida.
Hey, I work in the same office as Adam. That's not nice.
Well, there's a certain honor in being good enough to start in the Finals, even if you're about the worst example going of such a player. And on that happy night, I will bid Adam Keefe's officemates and the rest of you adieu. Look for my comments on the game on Twitter at @johnhollinger and we'll do this again next week.