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February 2, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:03 PM)

Greetings from the ATL everyone, where tonight I'm headed to the most important Hawks-Grizzlies game in the history of the "rivalry"

Don (Edmond, OK)

John, I love your insight, but your power rankings have blown a gasket. OKC has the league's best record and the best road record, along with three of the top 20 players in PER, yet they are seventh in your rankings. You are giving way too much weight to point differential.

John Hollinger
  (12:07 PM)

OKC's ranking has chafed a few other people too. The margin of victory is solid but not as strong as a few other teams', but the other thing that hurts them is the weak strength of schedule in the past ten games. As for having three of the top 20 in PER, that's why OKC is third in Offensive Efficiency. It's their 12th-ranked D that's holding them back a bit. Finally, keep in mind the tiny disparities too -- there is barely a point separating No. 3 from No. 7 right now.

Darius (Santa Monica, CA)

John - great work. Now riddle me this - did Andrew Bynum make it as an all star (and starter) because he deserves it or because there is simply nobody in the West after him???

John Hollinger
  (12:08 PM)

Perfect teaser for today's column, where I named my ten All-Star starters. It will be up soon.

Brett (Altoona)

Where does Milwaukee beating the LeWade's two times without Andrew Bogut rank on the strange happening scale for this season?

John Hollinger
  (12:08 PM)

I'd say it pales besides Atlanta beating them on the road with LeBron and Wade, and then losing to them at home with both sitting out.

Andrew (West Chester, PA)

When do you think we will start to see some player movement this year? Do you think there will be much less movement because of the shortened season, or more because teams did not have time to "think things out" in the offseason?

John Hollinger
  (12:10 PM)

March 1, because roughly half the league isn't trade-eligible until that date. Also, keep in mind that teams normally have 40-50 games to evaluate what they have before the trades start flying. We're barely at the one-quarter mark of a normal season, so teams are still a little gun-shy.

Sean (Boston)

What's wrong with Dirk? He has no lift on his shot and looks like he is playing at half speed. Is this just the result of a long Finals run followed by shortened training camp or has old age caught up to him? Should we expect him to turn it around and make the Mavs a real threat come playoff time?

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

These are great questions and the answers aren't entirely clear. I don't know what's wrong with his knee but that appears to be the crux of the problem; some of those jumpers will go in, but the fact is he's just not moving well and I'm not sure how they fix that. Obviously Dallas is much more of a credible threat with a full-strength Dirk; otherwise they can probably ride their depth to the playoffs but not any further.

Nick (Portland, OR)

Hi John. Was that Charlotte team last night in Portland the worst team in modern NBA history?

John Hollinger
  (12:12 PM)

You can make a case for it, although I still think the 1998-99 Bulls take the cake for talentlessness.

John (Santa Barbara, CA)

Dwight Howard claims he 'wants to win' - the sixers can sign dwight howard in the off season by using the amnesty on elton brand - why isn't Philadlephia the optimum destination for Dwight Howard IF he wants to win - they add dwight - they lose nothing really to one of the best teams in the east right now?

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

For the same reason that Oklahoma City isn't, and Utah isn't, and Portland isn't, and Atlanta isn't, and Minnesota isn't, and Memphis isn't -- Howard doesn't want to go there. It's really that simple.

Bryan (Atlanta)

With Marvin Williams playing the best ball of his career, do you think they would attempt to package Marvin and any combo of (AL Josh or Joe) to attempt to get Howard?

John Hollinger
  (12:14 PM)

See above. The first step is Howard wanting to play there, because otherwise he opts out after the season and the acquiring team is left with nothing. Thus far LA, New Jersey and Dallas are the only places to make the cut.

Max (Portlandia)

Why isn't anyone at ESPN mentioning the Blazers as one of, if not the biggest FA spender this offseason. Have you seen their 12-13 roster?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

Because they're not. They have cap space, potentially, but several teams are positioned to have more.

Andrew (West Chester, PA)

Any chance Kris Humphries is dealt to a contender? Who would he help?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

the major hiccup to any Humphries trade scenario is that he can refuse any trade because he only signed a one-year deal. Also, he'd lose his Bird Rights if dealt. So somehow, there needs to be a serious sweetener in there for him to sign off.

SaberTJ (Ohio)

Last night Hubie Brown recommended that Stern should fine players for declaring that they want to be traded to (insert team name here). Any thoughts on this?

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Rule was already instituted a couple of years ago. Problem is now players just leak word through other means. And it doesn't change the big picture problem at all: Howard's contract is expiring, and he is GOING to leave. Whether he says it out loud or keeps it to himself, that's still the end game.

Aleandra (Boise)

Are the 76ers for real? What are your thoughts on the pre-back injury Spencer Hawes? He looked like an All-Star center before he got hurt.

John Hollinger
  (12:20 PM)

"For real" as in a top-5 seed in the East? Absolutely. "For real" as in making the Bulls and Heat sweat? I don't think so. Philly has been phenomenal, no argument there, but they also came into lockoutball in much better shape than most. And they weren't the only shorthanded team on the court last night.

Tom (Cambridge UK)

Are the clips the favourite for Kenyon Martin, they can offer the mini midlevel and playing time, as the Clips frontcourt is pretty weak. Could he turn them from a pretender to a contender?

John Hollinger
  (12:22 PM)

Kenyon Martin isn't turning anyone from contender to pretender, but he'd help solidify a laughably weak frontcourt bench. For that reason I think the Clips are the best choice for K-Mart. I was surprised to see the Hawks going after him; he'd put ATL well into the tax and I'm not even sure how much he'd play.

Bilal (Gothenburg, Sweden)

No love for the Bucks? Jennings' game has matured and Ilyasova's rebounding is so much fun to watch.

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

Pleasantly surprised by what they've been able to do in Bogut's absence, and if Jennings keeps this up they're likely to get back to the playoffs. Nice to see Drew Gooden finally paying dividends for them as well.

Andrew (SF)

Should the Hawks trade for Kaman?

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

I don't see a deal that works. You're basically looking at Hinrich plus Zaza or Hinrich plus Marvin. There's no point in trading Zaza for Kaman; I'm not even convinced Kaman is any better at this point. And Marvin is playing far too well to have him be a throw-in for another center. What surprises me more is that Atlanta didn't push harder for Joel Pryzbilla.

Jay (Tacoma, WA)

No one seems to think that a Curry-Ellis backcourt will ever work...except our #@$*ing front office. Do you think they will figure this out? Which one is more likely to be moved, and what could the Warriors (realistically) expect in return.

John Hollinger
  (12:26 PM)

In their defense, they were trying to trade Ellis for Andre Iguodala this summer, so I think they won't stop an opportunistic trade if it comes up. (Kudos to Philly's new owners for blocking that one by the way; would've been a disaster). I don't know if they'll do anything at the trade deadline, but after the season I expect their world view to be less rah-rah and more realistic.

Mike (Buffalo NY)

Should the NBA and David Stern seriously consider contracting New Orleans and Charlotte?

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

Here's the part that I think people don't fully understand: No matter how few teams you have, one of them will always be the worst. New Orleans is actually doing OK financially as far as I know, and Charlotte historically has supported its team when given a reason to. Besides, I would think relocation would be preferable to contraction for the league anyway.

Dave (Portland)

Should the Blazers make a move this season, or wait until the offseason to do something with more cap room?

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

I think they'll look very hard at it, yes, because there's a ton of uncertainty up and down that roster after this season. It's become a win-now roster, with Aldridge the one really strong building block for the future.

Andrew (SF)

What is more likely: Griffin will develop a Amare-like jumper, or become an excellent defensive player?

John Hollinger
  (12:30 PM)

The jumper. Griffin has short arms and that's always going to limit him defensively.

Awayne (Indy)

More important piece for the Pacers to find,a pure outside shooter or a slasher that can get to the hoop?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

Neither. It's most important that they find somebody who can pass and set up all these other great shooters. David West is especially starved for open looks, but Hibbert, Granger and George should be getting more clean looks than they are as well.

Dan (Olathe, KS)

Gortat - MIP candidate?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

I'll go there, sure. Think Danilo Gallinari has to merit strong consideration too, as well as several other guys.

Joe (Decatur, GA)

Any possibility the Cavs can move Jamison or Sessions?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

Yes to both. I'd say Jamison is more easily moved because he has an expiring deal, although the Cavs are likely to get a bunch of garbage in return (ie, bad payers with expiring deals and maybe a weak draft pick). That's why he may play out the year and then the Cavs may try to sign-and-trade him afterward. Sessions will have suitors, but he has years on his deal and the Cavs want a real return for trading him (i.e. a mid-late first), so that's going to be a tougher negotiation.

Nasser (Canada)

Who would be a better pickup for Lakers Gilbert Arenas? or Ramon Sessions?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

Given that the first alternative listed was "Gilbert Arenas", I'll pick the other one.

Tom (NYC)

Thoughts on the amount of times KLove is hollering at the the refs? Is he top three in FTs because he is getting star treatment or so hard to stop on the boards that teams are illegitimately fouling him more often the the refs are willing to call?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

I thought the officiating in last night's Indy-Minnesota game was generally awful both ways and that they allowed a lot of physical stuff. both sides were pretty upset by the end of it. In their defense, it's harder to ref when there's so much beef on both sides. Some of those collisions between Love and Hansbrough were earth-shattering, and Dahntay Jones was flooring guys off the ball, and don't even get me started on Pekovic.

Otis (Orlando, FL)

Larry Hughes was waived yesterday with a -5.60 PER. Why was he even in the league at all this season?

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

Because the 15th-man pool was seriously shallowed by the lockout -- guys who would have been competing for those spots instead took the guaranteed money overseas.

Martin (Hattiesburg, MS)

Any chance Pacers can trade for Nash and what would they have to give up? He'd be exactly what they need and they would at least cause 'some' concern for the bulls and heat....

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

I don't see Indy doing it because I don't think they're willing to shed assets just to make a one-year run ... and still lose to the Heat/Bulls at the end of it. They're set up extremely well after the season to sign free agents or trade for a contract and add to their young core, and that's the big-picture goal.

Frank (Kansas)

In your mind, which teams can challenge OKC in the Western playoffs?

John Hollinger
  (12:41 PM)

I think several teams could challenge them if everything goes right, or with a doable trade. Clips, Blazers, Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Mavs all can match them in a series if you put in the proper "ifs". The one that might be the biggest threat may not even be there though -- I think Memphis with Z-Bo could give the Thunder fits, but they're in 10th right now.

JJ (Atlanta)

With largely the same players as last year, what has been the biggest difference in the Hawks? Is it just the Jeff Teague effect? They seem to be a lot less selfish this year.

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

You're looking at the wrong end. Check out their defensive stats. Night and day. Teague has played a big role in this, but their shambolic transition D from a year ago has suddenly become very competent.

Keeya (ATL)

Can I have tickets to tonight's Hawks game?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

Have a feeling there are still a few available, unfortunately. ATL should be supporting this team a lot better than it is.

sanj (philly)

If the sixers aren't "real" contenders, then is the East just Chicago, Miami, then everyone else?

John Hollinger
  (12:43 PM)

You're just figuring this out?

Brad (Toronto)

Is Jose Calderon a decent second prize for a team in need of a PG if Nash doesn't get moved? Seems like he would fit well in Indy, LA, etc...

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

Unfortunately, his contract makes trade talks with a lot of these teams a non-starter. Basketball-wise, he'd be a nice addition for a lot of those teams.

Nate (Madison)

The Bucks have to move S-Jax by the deadline, correct? I mean he is just worthless to them right now.

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

They still need to get something back -- right now he's their fourth wing, and he's better than anybody else's fourth wing, and in a season like this your fourth wing is going to have to play major minutes on some nights. The contract is a problem too. But I have a feeling they can get something done.

Jeff (Phoenix, AZ)

The Bulls have played five more games than the Clippers. Do you think more games early or more games late in the calendar year is better?

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

I'd rather play more games early, because it means less wear and tear heading into the playoffs. There's only one day off between the end of the regular season and half the Game 1s of the first round this year, and most of those last-day-of-season games are tail end of a back-to-back or a 4-in-5.

JayBird (Atlanta)

Can you admit you were wrong about the Hawks at the start of the season(not making playoff)?

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

Gee, ya think?

Ryan (San Mateo, CA)

is the distance the Blazers have to travel affecting them more than usual this year? They seem to control the game for the first three qtrs then run out of gas in the 4th

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

In general, the home-road disparities in the West have been fairly enormous this year, and I suspect the travel does have something to do with it. Portland, obviously, has the worst of it, and not surprisingly has the biggest disparity.

Robbie (Memphis, TN)

Everything coming out of Memphis is screaming that the Grizzlies are not going to trade Mayo. If he does go the bench is going to take a huge hit. Should they trade him?

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

To me the only reason to trade him is if Z-Bo is out for the year and a deal for a genuine starting power forward materializes, or if they can somehow trade him, get a 4 AND a 2, and with contracts that help them with their current luxury tax dance. But he's been a very valuable performer for them of late.

David (Illinois)

Does Kyrie Irving have a chance of ever becoming a top 10 player in the league?

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

Without question, yes.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Given the Spurs' performance so far, where do you see them winding up (seeding and championship-wise) with Ginobili coming back soon?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

I picked them third in the West before the start of the season and still think that's a pretty fair assessment. Championship-wise, the line forms behind Oklahoma City; I'd put them on roughly equal footing with the other six teams pushing for the No. 2 spot in the West.

Brian (Tampa)

Can you give any reason for hope for a Magic fan? Right now the only things I can come up with are 1) At least Otis is going to get canned 2) We won't have room for any other awful signings this offseason

John Hollinger
  (12:53 PM)

How about 3) you have warm weather and no taxes, so cap space is actually a real means to get better quickly, and you'll have plenty of it in two years.

Chester (Des Moines)

Chad Ford mentioned Knicks were shopping Amar'e hard. Isn't it a little early to break up the Knicks? If moved, would Golden State for Ellis and Lee be realistic?

John Hollinger
  (12:54 PM)

Here's the issue with Amare: His contract isn't insurable, which means most of the league's teams won't touch him at any price. Which makes shopping him a very difficult proposition. What's worse for New York is that they already amnestied Billups, so if Amare doesn't get better they're eating three more years at about $20 mil a pop.

Craig (Kansas City)

How bullish are you on Gordon Hayward -- his offensive game is to put it charitably a work in progress but he is becoming very good defensively. Is he young enough (this goes for Favors, too) to develop offensively?

John Hollinger
  (12:57 PM)

Hayward is talented but his feel for the game isn't great and he simply has to be more aggressive. I just don't know how it evolves from here; he might be frustratingly mediocre his whole career, or the lightbulb might come and make him a solid long-term starter. As for Favors, I'm not sure he'll ever be great offensively, but he's a potential monster on D.

Albert (New York)

Has OKC validated their James Harden-over-Stephen Curry pick yet with this year's performance? Or do you think Steph would still have turned out to be a better component in OKC?

John Hollinger
  (12:58 PM)

I think they're very happy they picked Harden. Curry probably would have worked out OK too, but Harden fits that team better.

Matt (Philly)

Is Evan Turner still viewed as a mistake at number 2 in the draft for the Sixers? At this point, on this team, I think I'd much rather have him than Favors or Cousins

John Hollinger
  (12:59 PM)

In 20-20 hindsight they probably should have taken Favors or Paul George, but he's been solid this year and clearly can't be considered a bust.

Mike (LA)

Deron Williams has picked up as of late...thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (1:01 PM)

Inevitable; by the way, he had a wicked throwdown on Hibbert two days ago that was completely obscured by Blakemania. More importantly, the Nets are grinding out some wins and leaving the door open for a playoff run if they can get Dwight at the deadline. Can you imagine Miami earning the top seed only to face a 31-35 Nets team with Deron and Dwight in Round 1?

Kevin (CT)

I noticed you didn't include Mo Williams in your trade column. With him playing out of his mind recently, the Clips have to move him for some frontcourt depth and/or a decent wing, right?

John Hollinger
  (1:03 PM)

I believe the thinking with the Clips is that they CAN'T trade him because of how well he's playing; dude is carrying their bench right now. So Bledsoe becomes the expendable piece, and likely Foye too. Williams also makes $7 million next year, so he's tougher to move.

Mark (DC)

Has John Wall dissapointed you?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

Yes, terribly. Maybe Rose and Westbrook left our expectations too high; that is not a "normal' development curve, even for a top pick. But it's Year 2 and his only real move is to dribble very fast upcourt and fly to the rim.

Alan (Baltimore)

Perfect final question for this think Dwight Howards destination this year is?????

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

New Jersey. And with that, I'm out. Thanks again for the great questions and keep an eye out for my dispatch from Philip tonight.