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March 22, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:03 PM)

Greetings everyone. Lots of excitement going around as the playoff races kick into high gear, so let's get started....

Bryant (GA)

Are the Hawks trying to make sure that they meet the Magic in the first round of the playoffs? Its the only way their play the past couple weeks makes any sense.

John Hollinger
  (12:04 PM)

Not sure you've noticed but they've kinda been ravaged by injuries. They've been very short on bodies the past few games after the bench was a major component to their strong start. Add in the fact that they weren't a dominating juggernaut to begin with and I don't think the past two games are a big surprise.

Heath (Dallas)

Am I crazy to think that Sessions should stay on the bench to help the second unit? It seems he has more utility there without having to defer to Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum, and can help bridge the times between when the three studs are all on the court together.

John Hollinger
  (12:05 PM)

My sentiments exactly. Sessions is better than Blake, but he doesn't mesh that well with Kobe. So Brown needs to make sure that all non-Kobe minutes are played with Sessions on the floor, and all non-Sessions minutes are played with Kobe; then he always has a guard who can create on the court and minimizes the Kobe-Sessions dissonance. Then Sessions can play the 4th with the starters.

Nathan (Portland)

Please explain the JJ Hickson signing. Is it just an extended try out?

John Hollinger
  (12:09 PM)

Yes. He's a restricted free agent after the season and the Blazers will have his Bird Rights. Portland could use a 5 who can score and Hickson fits the bill; I expect they'll rely on Pryzbilla and Thomas a lot less while they get a look at Hickson down the stretch. Side note: Nice use of the Blazers' $2.5 million exception from the Marcus Camby trade to slot in Hickson's $2.4 million salary.

Dan (NYC)

Thorpe redrafted the 2011 class, placing Tristan Thompson 2nd overall. You agree?

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

Probably a bit optimistic, although there still isn't really a clear-cut No. 2 at this point. If anything, I'd think Valuncianas might be the No. 2 now. Thompson offers a lot and is still young, but one thing that really stood out last night is his poor finishing skills. He takes forever to stop and gather and constantly loses the ball going up. Also, he can't shoot. He has all the other tools, but he's more of a long-term play.

Yatin (LA)

Is this what the Clippers are, a 5-8 type team in the West or are they not playing to their potential? The halfcourt O is terrible

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

I think they're better than this, but they're so bad defensively that it's holding them back. Best thing they have going for them is that nobody else in the West can get anything going either.

Jay (Tacoma, WA)

What is Joe Lacob doing, announcing that he wants his draft pick back? Damage control? Extraordinarily terrible negotiating skills? Or conspiracy theory? ("This way, when we suck and get the draft pick anyway, I can announce that we shrewdly got it for free and no one will notice that we sucked!")

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Another fine moment for Team Hubris. It's like they watched the Dolan-Era Knicks and thought "you know what, THERE is a guy who gets it." They need to ditch the grand proclamations and stick to the less immediately gratifying approach of slowly building a decent basketball team.

adam (NJ)

Please give Nets fans something to be hopeful thats actually basketball related and not just "ooh, Brooklyn...shiny!"

John Hollinger
  (12:19 PM)

Well, they *potentially* have a pretty good team next year if they can re-sign Williams, Hump, Wallace and Lopez. Add Farmar, Green, Brooks and any random big to that mix and you're in the playoffs easy. Unfortunately, I don't think they can keep Williams or Wallace.

Nathan (Portland)

The way this season is going it looks like the Blazers may end up with two top ten picks. Do see them packaging those picks in a trade to move up or upgrade the roster?

John Hollinger
  (12:20 PM)

I suppose it's possible -- Portland has always been fond of draft-day trades -- but remember it takes two to tango. Teams don't normally like to trade down out of the top five.

Danny (SLC)

Is the Jazz 4 game win streak an indication they have turned the corner?

John Hollinger
  (12:22 PM)

It's an indication that they've won four straight games; I wouldn't get too carried away beyond that. But as I've said all season, I really like the position they're in long-term with the young bigs and wings.

Nick (California)

How do you feel about the Kings Terrence Williams signing?

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

Nothing to lose by taking a look at him, but I doubt he'll be in their training camp come October.

JB (Memphis)

Most people are down on the Arenas signing... What are your thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

I agree that they had to do *something* about the backup point guard spot. I question whether this was the correct something. It could work if Gilbert recognizes that he's never going to be the Hibachi again and just focuses on spot-up shooting and distributing the ball. If he thinks he can get 20 a night, this will be a disaster.

Jon (NYC)

I know the Knicks have a tougher schedule than Milwaukee and have a history of not handling success well, but as of this morning they're eighth in your power rankings. Do you think they can keep this up and take the division at the end?

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Whoa there ... we were having a nice conversation about New York vs. Milwaukee and then you went all "division champs" on me. The Sixers still will win the division in all likelihood, but the Knicks and Bucks may very well *both* pass Boston and leave the Celtics in the lottery. Boston's schedule is even tougher than New York's and the C's aren't playing nearly as well.

Andrew (SF)

Can Jason Thompson be the answer long-term to pair with Cousins? I know we've seen this movie before...

John Hollinger
  (12:27 PM)

I have been very impressed with Thompson's play of late, and while it has Suspicious Contract Run written all over it, the skills to play this way have always been there. Long-term I still probably like him better as a third big than a starter, but he's paired nicely with Cousins of late. Hopefully the Kings don't try to convert him to small forward again.

nate (Phx)

Help. I can't watch Suns games anymore. I don't know what to do - they've already won too many games to get a good draft pick, and there's no way they're sneaking into the playoffs. (even if they do - yay?) So... what am i suppose to root for here exactly???

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

My best friend is a Suns fan and has been sending me conflicted emails on this very topic for the past couple weeks. Here's the positive spin -- Phoenix is going to have a lot of cap space, and if they play well down the stretch it may convince a good free agent to join forces with Nash to form a genuinely good team.

Rob Hartwell (Newfoundland)

Seems like Ed Davis has taken a step backwards this year. Is this a second year slump or maybe coaching?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

No; his shooting percentage form a year ago was unsustainable and artificially boosted his stats. But the other thing is that he has to get much stronger in his base; the dude just gets pushed around like a rag doll by big 4s and 5s and it makes it tough for him to defend the position.

Matt W (Anniston, AL)

Is Jeff Teague the answer for the Hawks at PG, or should they try to replace him?

John Hollinger
  (12:32 PM)

Was there somebody better lying around? Teague makes some shaky decisions, as we saw last night, but he also defends well at the point of the attack and has tremendous quickness. If the Hawks are going to upgrade anywhere, I'd say small forward is the first priority and point guard a distant second.

Kevin Garnett (Boston)

Who's Jeff Teague?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

well played.

Brian (Providence)

Do the Lakers make a run at D-Will in the summer?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

With what? They have no cap room and no trade assets, unless they convince the Nets to do a sign-and-trade for Pau Gasol.

Zack (Vegas)

Will the NBA be watching the Warriors more closely for tanking games? Because of whats been going on with management?

John Hollinger
  (12:35 PM)

The NBA pretends not to notice tanking, even in some of the more blatant forms that we've seen in recent seasons. I don't think the Warriors are tanking anyway, at least on the court.

Barry (Cleveland)

Why did you say the Sessions trade for Cleveland was bad? Sessions was going to exercise his player option and bolt at the end of the season leaving the Cavs with nothing but an empty roster spot. At least with the trade they got a first round draft pick.

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

Because they badly overpaid the market rate for a first-round pick. If anything, they should have demanded a second one for this deal (which the Lakers had, by the way). They not only lost Sessions, they also swallowed a $6 million, unamnestiable 2012-13 contract with Walton; teams will pay a first-rounder to dump that money alone, not including getting a player like Sessions in return. Also, even if Sessions opted out and wanted to leave, the Cavs had his Bird Rights and could have worked a sign-and-trade to their advantage.

Mike (Cali)

Is Coach of the Year a two man race between Thibs and Popovich? Seems Collins has fallen off, no?

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

I'd say that's accurate, yes. Several others warrant mention for holding together rosters through a lot of adversity this year (Gentry, Hollins, Drew, Van Gundy, Adelman, Skiles, Carlisle, McHale), but in the end it comes down to those two.

Joe (Illinois)

Just think if John Lucas III was 5 inches taller. The Bulls' SG woes would be over.

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

Which brings up an interesting playoff question for the Bulls: Do you use Lucas or Watson as the backup PG in the postseason? Also, you may have stumbled upon another tactic, which is for the Bulls to play with Rose as the 2 on defense and Lucas as the 2 on offense in a small backcourt.

Ned (NYC)

Be real John, Woodson is running away with COY

John Hollinger
  (12:43 PM)

Where overreacting happens.

Lee (Indy)

So, should the Wolves start planning what to do with Utah's pick?

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

Completely forgot about this -- Minnesota has Utah's first-round pick if it falls outside the top 14. There was no reason to believe this would happen a few weeks ago, but now it seems the Jazz may make the playoffs and bestow a pick in the 17 range upon the T'wolves.

Wesley Johnson (Minnesota)

Am I officially a bust or are people just trying to unfairly force me to play the 2 in Minnesota?

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

Except for all that time you spent at the 3. Yes, I'd say we're teetering on bustville here. I can forgive Minnesota passing on Cousins at No. 4 in 2010 because of all the red flags, but Monroe, Hayward and George all are much better players than Johnson.

Kyle (Cleveland, OH)

So, you got see Alonzo Gee play last night. Is he looking like a good player, or looking like a good player because he's on a bad team?

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

Gee did a really nice job on Joe Johnson through three quarters and lost track of him a bit late. In general, he's improved quite a bit and is now a respectable NBA role player -- athletic finisher, decent defender, shoots just well enough to make you defend it. Not a long-term starter, but could be a rotation player for half a decade.

Steve (Houston)

Does Lebron have a chance to win DPOY?

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

A chance I suppose, but it hurts that people just don't think of him that way. I suspect Iguodala may get his due this year.

Andrew (SF)

Is Josh Smith still disgruntled? He gone in the off-season?

John Hollinger
  (12:51 PM)

Looked fairly gruntled getting a 32-17-5 last night. He'd like to be traded but it hasn't affected his play on the court, and in terms of the Hawks there haven't been many Smith trades on the board that made sense for them.

Jack (Boston)

I really like the team the Nuggets have assembled but I keep waiting for them to come together--do you think they have it in them for a long playoff run?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

I kind of doubt it this year, especially since they willingly took a half-step back with the Nene-JaVale trade. Where the Nuggets really look scary is a year or two down the road, especially if they can package some of these assets for a star.

Marshall (New York)

Is STAT back? Not just last night, but the last couple of weeks he seems to be attacking more. If he is, and Anthony can figure out how to shoot again...

John Hollinger
  (12:54 PM)

Let's not get crazy. He played well last night, but that explosive first step going to his right was what made him such a lethal scorer, and I have yet to see that at any point this season. Some good, explosive jumps from him though, I will say that.

Mike (NJ)

How many games do you think Rose/Rip need to play before the playoffs to be at their best?

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

I think the playoff match-ups are strong enough in their favor that they can use those games to hit their stride in the first two rounds; it really comes down to the conference finals, right? This is especially true for Rip; I think at this point it's safe to say he'll be a bench player in the postseason.

EJ (CA)

We know what your numbers say - who do you predict gets the 7 and 8 seeds in the East?

John Hollinger
  (12:56 PM)

I think it's 7 Milwaukee, 8 New York, Boston in the lottery.

JR (North Cack)

When it comes to the playoffs in the West, who are you taking? The Thunder or the field?

John Hollinger
  (12:57 PM)

Leaning Thunder but I want to see Memphis play a few more games with Z-Bo and Spurs play some games with Manu before I etch that choice in stone. Lakers, Clips also have a puncher's chance.

Knicks Fan (NY)

How many championships will the Knicks win now that Amare had one good game?

eric (el paso, tx)

do you see anything significant happening to Houston during the offseason?

John Hollinger
  (12:59 PM)

Hotter weather. Oh, you meant the Houston Rockets ... for them, I think we'll see another dip into the free agent wilds to score their elusive go-to guy. The interesting part is whether they re-sign Lee and Dragic.

John Hollinger
  (1:00 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions and we'll do this again next week.