Greetings everyone. Big slate of games tonight and a Dwightmare to discuss, so let's get rolling...
Do you think the Magic have a real shot this playoff or did the SVG-Howard situation kill any real chance they had?
I thought they had a chance of making the ECF but not going any further. They had the type of team that might be able to upset Miami or Chicago, but they weren't going to beat both of them consecutively. And of course, if they drew Atlanta again they were going to be in trouble regardless.
Toronto Raptors 30th in defensive efficiency last season, 15th this year. Dwane Casey = Sub .500 coach of the year?
I think Casey has done an excellent job with the Raptors this year, and the defensive improvement in particular has been noteworthy. While I can point out a few quibbles (like the whole Rasual Butler thing), it's particularly instructive to look at how Toronto has played when Bargnani has been available. Once they get Valuncianas they'll be a real team.
What are your opinion on the Suns right now? They could enter the top 8 in the West as early as tonight. Are they a legit playoff team?
I am fairly amazed that they've been able to do this, but the pack has come back to them and they've been able to squeeze good years from their old guys yet again. Losing Grant Hill is a concern, and so is their tough closing schedule, so the odds still are against them. The key is winning the head to head games they have left against the other contenders, starting tonight.
John, was SVG's press conference yesterday his attempt to force the Magic to fire him immediately? I can't see how this situation can continue another 5 minutes let alone 3 weeks.
It was his effort to control a situation that he already knew was a fait accompli. I think the Magic actually may keep him the rest of the season anyway, but I can't imagine he'll be back next year.
Kevin Seraphin has stepped it up recently (13/6 in his last 10 games). is this a product of getting minutes on a bad team with mcgee/blatche traded/out, or can he be a key piece as they rebuild?
I like Seraphin as a rotation big man, but he's not somebody who would start on a good team. He's tough and physical and can make short jump hooks, and he's starting to show a halfway decent 15-footer. But he's certainly not a high-skill guy.
While we're on the topic, Seraphin is also an alumnus of the Hoop Summit, the event in Portland between top young players from the U.S. and overseas. Have seen the internationals practice the past couple of days. Andrew Wiggins of Canada looks like a really strong prospect; Dario Saric of Croatia and Leo Westermann of France also looked good, but I'm not sure there's the depth of quality on in the international side that we've seen in past years.
Should the Spurs be worried about a second round matchup against the Lakers?
I think they'd rather the Lakers than Memphis, right? No matter what you're facing a tough team in round 2; the advantage of facing the Lakers is that nobody on that team can check Tony Parker.
Yo, more likely to upset the Heat in round 1: NYK or MIL?
None of the above. Not happening. And by the way, Miami is far more likely to face Boston or Philadelphia, as they're likely to be the No. 2 seed and not the No. 1
Dwight Howard is a great defender, but given that most of the league's best players are perimeter players, should a lockdown perimeter defender (e.g. LeBron) win DPOY?
Dwight Howard isn't going to win DPOY; he's been coasting all year and the Magic's defensive numbers have slipped. For that reason, I do suspect a perimeter defender will win it this year, although New York's Tyson Chandler also has a very strong case.
Re: Seraphin, he's only 22, only started playing at age 15, and has shown a huge leap since last year. doesn't he have time to grow into that "starter on a good team" type guy?
Perhaps. Personally I don't see it, but I've been wrong before.
Can the Blazers reasonably think they can keep JJ Hickson this off season? Does it make sense to have LaMarcus and JJ on the floor for extended periods of time? If they can, what kind of player do the Blazers hope to draft that can help them right away?
Alright, Portland, let's calm down on the Hicksanity a bit. He shoots 48.9% for his career; he's not going to keep making 61% like he has in Portland. He's also a horrid defensive player; he's fairly athletic and blocks shots but is never in the right spot. Realistically, you're looking at keeping him as a third or fourth big as a restricted free agent. The nice thing about claiming him on waivers is that he will be *restricted*, and he's not going to get big money offer sheets, so if Portland wants him they'll be to keep him at a good price.
Your thoughts on the Jazz - shouldn't they tank tonight's game to better position themselves for the #8 pick?
I think the Warriors have shown they can out-tank just about anybody, and after inadvertently beating the T'wolves the other night they'll redouble their efforts. Besides, if you have a shot at making the playoffs you take it, every time. Remember, the Jazz can still get a good pick from the Warriors a year from now if they don't get it this year.
Reports are that Steve Nash wants a 3 year deal. Isn't that too long for a 38 year old pg with a bad back?
Yes, but there are teams that may be desperate enough to do it. To me the third year has to be a partial guarantee that he can take to a full guarantee by meeting incentives.
any chance Brooks plays Fisher too much in the playoffs b/c of his 'leadership' and it cost them games and/or a series?
Yes, it's a concern of mine. When he uses that Fisher-Westbrook set, those are minutes that should be going to Daequan Cook or Thabo Sefolosha. By the way, he's officially changed his name to Respected Veteran Leader Derek Fisher.
Is it at all likely for Portland to land D. Will this summer?
No. I found it amusing that Blazer fans thought they'd lure Williams with their enthusiasm at the game the other night. News flash: It's April, and it was 35 and raining the one morning Williams woke up in Portland. He's not coming here.
Thoughts on your playoff odds, regarding the championship predictions. Do you personally see SAS, CHI, OKC and MIA as being basically on equal footing at this point or are you still leaning towards MIA overall. I'm also wondering if SAS really match ups all that well against the two eastern teams.
The one variable that the Playoff Odds don't replicate is how things change once the postseason starts. Minutes shift from bench players to stars, and that shift benefits Miami and OKC relative to the Spurs and Bulls.
Who do you have winning the Atlantic division? Celtics have lost a couple tough games and have a ridiculous schedule but the Sixers have looked pretty awful lately.
As I noted in today's Per Diem, which should be up soon, the Atlantic has really been thrown in disarray by Philly's slump; and remember, the Knicks are now close enough that they could move past both those teams, especially if they beat Boston in two weeks. Philly has by far the easiest schedule, even though they only have three home games left, but they've looked so awful lately and the Celtics have looked so strong that I think Boston wins it.
Do you see the Spurs going 12-2 the remainder continuing the 50 win season streak?
No, they have some tough national TV games and several back to backs, and they are going to blatantly tank a couple of games to get guys rest.
Say what you will about roster shortening in the playoffs, but surely depth has major benefits regarding match-ups, performance and the occasional injury?
Depth is still better than no depth, it's just less of an advantage than it is in the regular season. That's why a top-heavy team like Miami will tend to outperform its regular season performance in the playoffs, and a team like Philly will do the opposite.
John, which 2 teams will miss the playoff cut from the ROX, Denver, Utah, Phoenix quartet?
If you held a gun to my head I'd say Phoenix and Houston. I don't think Utah will make it -- I just feel like that four overtime game in Atlanta sucked the life out of them. And Denver to me hasn't been nearly as strong since the trade/Gallo re-injury. But with all that said ... this is pretty close to a four-way coin toss.
Why does Dwight want SVG out and not Otis Smith? Dwight has no clue what he's doing.
You just answered your own question.
Would you say that the Lakers getting Ramon Sessions is the best trade this season?
It's up there. Amazing to me that they could dump Walton AND get Sessions for the price of a late-first; Cleveland was far too generous. Still think the best trade was San Antonio's Jefferson-Jackson deal however, which dramatically improves their cap situation going forward.
Any chance the magic trade Dwight this off-season and keep SVG?
I suppose it's possible, but the time frame for Dwight's saga to play out potentially extends deep into this summer and possibly next season, and the decision on Stan has to be made much more quickly.
what are portlands options with the cap room and the two lottery picks, do they trade them.
If you look at Larry Miller's brave talk this week about reloading and winning championships, it seems clear to me they intend to trade the draft picks to get a marquee player.
chances Mike D'Antoni becomes the LA Clippers next head coach? He gets his PG that he needs for his offensive style/system and 2 freak athletes that can run up and down in blake and De'Andre..thoughts?
I think that would be a pretty solid fit, yes. But I don't know whether he's on the Clippers' radar or not.
Thoughts on Jan Vesely? His shot is ugly.
He can run and jump, but I'm not sure he's any good at basketball. He definitely can't shoot, but it's the other stuff that worries me more; I just don't see much in the way of feel or coordination.
Portland reportedly wants Nash next season, but does that make any real basketball sense?
Portland has wanted Nash for a while now. I have no idea if Nash wants Portland, but there are some advantages. For instance, if he wants to be able to drive 45 mph in the left lane then I'd say the Blazers should be his top choice. In seriousness, there's a glaring gap at point guard, he's from the Northwest, he has an All-Star big to play with and some good 3-point shooters (Matthews, Batum), and it's possible the Blazers hire D'Antoni to go with him.
Also, there have been mutterings of Portland pursuing Steve Kerr as the general manager, and Kerr and Nash have a connection from Phoenix. But you can scratch D'Antoni if that happens.
I've heared that Nash won't leave the Suns - not because of loyalty, not because he loves it there, but simply because they have the only training staff in the league that can keep him healthy for a whole season. Pointless him going to a "contender" if he never plays.
I think that is a legitimate consideration, yes. I wonder when Aaron Nelson becomes a free agent.
Which franchise has more upside right now - Bobcats or Jazz? Please say Bobcats so I can win a bet with my co-worker.
Jazz. You're a lousy gambler.
for sake of argument, OKC gets matched up w/ Memphis in any round. Is having RGay this year enough to tilt the odds in Memphis's favor b/c they were already so superior at rebounding?
I covered all seven games and I thought the Grizzlies would have won the series last year if they had Gay. But that was last year. This year's Thunder are better, and this year's Grizzlies don't have last year's Zach Randolph. Unless Z-Bo morphs into last year's Z-Bo over these next few weeks, I think Memphis would fall short again.
Can a healthy Hornets team next year (with two lottery picks coming) join the Hou/Pho/Den/Ut group competing for a playoff spot?
We just don't know enough about who is making the decisions and how much they're willing to spend. The Hornets may or may not have been sold by then, and if they're still run by the league it will be very interesting to see whether they'll pay to keep guys like Gordon and Kaman.
How much damage is Dwight doing to his legacy right now?
Legacy of what? He has one Finals appearance. I think the big shift is that the story of Happy-Go-Lucky Kid Dwight died yesterday. He has to grow up, and that goes with making a real decision about staying vs. going and owning up to what he was doing with SVG.
Stat for one of Portland's lottery picks - any chance a move like this goes down if Stat comes back and plays ok in the playoffs?
Dream on New York. Stoudemire is the league's most untradeable player right now because his contract is uninsured and he makes far more than his production.
Why isnt brandon wright playing more for the mavs with haywood in the lineup, considering his shotblocking and the mavs troubles defensively against slashers?
One reason Wright has been effective is because the Mavs put him in situations where he'll succeed. In particular, on defense he can't be put anywhere near a big, physical opposing post player. Dallas usually plays zone with Wright in the game or has him guard a bad player and roam for shot blocks; but in 1-on-1 post defense he's a huge liability.
Houston is likely to have two picks in the middle to back end of the first round. What value is there in those picks?
Probably trade chips. Rockets are in position to trade quantity for quality and will explore a lot of scenarios this offseason.
Can the Hawks reach the ECF when Horford returns from injury?
Doubtful. Remember two things: 1) Miami and Chicago are way better than everyone else, and 2) Horford isn't just going to show up for Game 1 of the playoffs and start cranking out 20-10s. It doesn't work like that. But I am intrigued to see how much Horford could help Atlanta in a second-round series in particular, once he's had a few first-round games to shake off the rust.
Whats a bigger mistake, New York wasting their amnesty on Chauncey when they could have just declined his option before the lockout or the Dubs wasting their provision on Charlie Bell's 4 million contract so that they can over pay Jordan?
Charlie Bell, hands down. The Knicks wouldn't have had the cap room to sign Chandler if they'd declined Billups' option because there was still guaranteed money in there that would have counted on their cap space. And the amnesty of Billups indirectly led to their stumbling into Jeremy Lin.
Heading to the Hoop Summit tomorrow. Who are your favorite prospects to watch on the USA side of things?
I haven't seen the US guys work out, so I'll be coming in fresh tomorrow for that side of the equation. I figure I'll see those guys in college anyway, so I focus my attention on the internationals at this event.
What is the likelihood that Nash will leave for Miami? Please tell us zero.
I'm actually not sure he's a great fit there. LeBron and Wade aren't spacing the floor for his pick-and-roll game, so he'd likely be playing off the ball a lot. He might shoot 80% on 3s though.
My die-hard Spurs fan boyfriend says he will only marry me if the Spurs win this year. Do I need a new boyfriend?
Seems like either way the answer is yes. But good luck.
Based on your article the other day, LeBron and KD are 1-2 in your MVP ballot. What's the rest of your top 5?
I would say Chris Paul third, Kevin Love fourth, and Wade fifth.
Folks, that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions and we'll do this again next week.