Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 31, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:02 PM)

Greetings all, where we have plenty to talk about following a 24-hour whirlwind through the conference finals, lottery and assorted conspiracy theories. Per Diem on the lottery implications should be up soon. In the meantime, fire away...

clyde (D.C.)

the Celts are complaining about the officiating and the free throw disparity for no reason I think. The Heat have the personnel who drives to the basket and can get the calls deservedly. What do you think? BTW Rando, only player who drives to the basket, went to the FT line.

John Hollinger
  (12:04 PM)

You can think that the Celtics got some tough whistles last night without going nutters on conspiracy theories. The Rondo play was clearly a foul and it was a big call. I thought Boston went over the top complaining about the free-throw disparity and the foul-outs though; it's not just going to the basket, it's the fact that Miami's guys jump six inches higher once you get there.

David (San Francisco, Ca)

Would Rondo be a better fit with Durant than Westbrook? seems like Durant doesn't get the ball at times when he should, and Westbrook takes bad shots

John Hollinger
  (12:06 PM)

Oklahoma City was second in the league in Offensive Efficiency. They scored 111 points in Game 2. Methinks the offense isn't the problem. Did Westbrook make a few suboptimal decisions? Sure. Is he a better offensive player than Rondo, barring his morphing into Mark Price last night? Absolutely.

John Hollinger
  (12:06 PM)

One other thing with Durant that people have trouble appreciating -- he still isn't very good at getting open off the ball. When you saw Russ handle up top for ten seconds looking for something that never materializes, and then improvise a long jump shot, it's because KD couldn't get open on a play call.

Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)

Do you think Scott Brooks wises up finally plays the Westbrook/Thabo/Harden/Durant/Ibaka more than 5 minutes? Only took him 7.5 quarters..

John Hollinger
  (12:09 PM)

It's interesting, because the Thunder have done this for the past two years -- when they go small, it's almost NEVER with Thabo. In the past it was with Cook or Maynor, this year it's with Fisher or occasionally Cook. But I think their best lineup is with Thabo in that spot, and I think the Thunder are putting WAAAAAY too much stock in the Derek Fisher Has Been There Before line of thinking and not enough in the Lakers Paid Houston to Take Derek Fisher Off Their Hands line of thinking.

Basketball Blog (Winchester, KY)

If OKC loses, do you think Scotty Brooks is the one who takes the fall? He's gotten them there 2 yrs in a row, but can't get over the hump. Is it fair? Who could they get to replace him?

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

I think it's highly unlikely Brooks loses his job over this. San Antonio hasn't lost a game since Columbus landed, but we're going to rake Scotty over the coals for not beating them? He still needs to improve as an in-game coach, but he's definitely made progress from a year ago.

rob (houston)

typing this just seems so ridiculous, but what % do you give the spurs going 16-0 and going down in the history books as one of the greatest teams of all time?

John Hollinger
  (12:12 PM)

Still highly unlikely -- four of the next six will be road games, all against high-caliber opposition. Odds say the streak ends tonight actually, as OKC is ferocious at home.

Jake (Denver)

Did you think KG deserved a tech for getting wrapped up with James Jones?

John Hollinger
  (12:14 PM)

It was borderline. When I watched it live I thought it was a tech, when I saw the replay I wasn't as sure. He definitely threw an arm/elbow on his follow through. But the way Jones reacted I thought it would be double Ts.

Brian (Boston, MA)

Quick question: Why on earth did Rivers put Ryan Hollins on the court? He serves no purpose, not even with a bench as shallow as the Celts.

John Hollinger
  (12:14 PM)

Stiemsma had four fouls in three minutes, and KG isn't Rondo -- the dude needs rest.

Adrian (Miami)

For a "No Excuses" team, Boston sure cries a lot about the officiating. Your thoughts... ?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

I was surprised to the extent that Doc went there after the game last night. It's like they already think the series is over. Look, I understand griping about the Rondo call, but the other stuff is just pure sour grapes. Boston got friendly whistles too, believe it or not, most notably on the Rondo jump ball call. Like I said, the face foul at the end was huge and I get they're upset over that. But they should be more upset about giving up 50 points in 17 minutes in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

Nick (MI)

What do the Bobcats do? The #2 pick doesnt really seem to matter considering how bad they are. Trade it and try to get even more draft picks and hope they eventually get a true franchise player that Davis is expected to be?

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Take the best player available. Beggars can't be choosers. They have needs at every position and can fill one of them with a darned good player if they play their cards right.

George (Texas)

Mr. Hollinger, why do you repeatedly refer to Westbrook as "Russ" in your columns and chats? Do you play Call of Duty with him in the offseason, or something?

John Hollinger
  (12:20 PM)

I tend to shorten every players's name: Kevin Durant becomes KD, Russell Westbrook becomes Russ; Jrue Holiday becomes the Jruth; etc. Besides, we usually play Starcraft, not Call of Duty.

B. King (Brooklyn)

What have I done?

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

Great question, and something I addressed in today's Per Diem. I didn't agree with New Jersey's plan from the start and the Wallace trade completely baffled me. They may be picking up the pieces from a 12-win team again a year from now.

Austin Rivers (Winter Park)

Could I end up on my dad's team?

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

Fortunately I think he'll be off the board before the Celtics have to make that decision. For the record, this would be awful -- no matter how fair you try to be, the mere appearance of nepotism is enough to turn the locker room.

Bummi (GA)

Do you think Lakers can somehow land DWill this offseason?

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Yes I do -- if New Jersey decides to salvage with a Gasol-Deron Williams sign-and-trade. I have to think the Lakers would be partial to such a deal.

Mike (Idaho)

If the Jazz did decide to move Al or Sap, what could they reasonably get back? And should they move one?

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Have to look for backcourt help, and especially shooting. Ideally trade him for a young point guard, or perhaps do something like trading Millsap to Portland for the No. 6 pick and taking Lillard.

Eric (London)

I know Heat vs Spurs isn't a foregone conclusion (only 95% certain) but do you think the Heat would even remotely stand a chance, Bosh or no Bosh?

John Hollinger
  (12:26 PM)

Yes, they stand a chance, especially if Bosh plays. But you'd have to make Spurs a solid favorite.

Jerry (Texas)

Why would NJ, a rebuilding team want an aging player with a high salary like Gasol?

John Hollinger
  (12:27 PM)

The Nets are not bound by the constraints of logic; if they were they wouldn't have traded a lottery pick for three months of Gerald Wallace. They have a new building opening and want to make a splash.

Mark (NYC)

Regarding the officiating, again. Why doesn't David Stern come out with a statement, one-way-or-the-other, by having him stay silent, it gives the feel that there is truth to the "conspiracy" theories out there. If he has nothing to hide, why let these games have a feel of "conspiracy" by not making a statement?

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

What would you want him to say? You think if he announces "there is no conspiracy" that this will stop people for even one half of one second?

Stephen (Houston)

What kind of moves do you see the Rockets trying with Lowry and/or their two first round picks?

John Hollinger
  (12:30 PM)

First domino is Dragic, remember; what happens with him helps dictate what happens with Lowry. The other domino is Dwight Howard; Houston is very interested in him even as a rental and one of the point guards would almost certainly be going to Orlando in such a swap.

Zack (Vegas)

Do you know why the NBA will not allow us to watch the ping pong balls?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

They have reps from every team and selected media members in the room. I think they like the drama of a televised event with the envelopes rather than having people referencing a chart as ping-pong balls are drawn.

Andrew (SF)

How have you not answered a Hornets' question yet? What is your blueprint for them for the next 3-4 years?

John Hollinger
  (12:32 PM)

Today's Per Diem discusses the Hornets in depth. What not to do: Use all your cap space on a fading Peja Stojakovic, and then use three straight full midlevel exceptions on Mo Peterson, Bobby Jackson and James Posey.

Mark (Boston)

Thoughts on Szczerbiak saying KG never had clutch gene?

John Hollinger
  (12:32 PM)

Pot. Kettle.

Kroeger (OSNA)

What are the Mavericks chances to get Deron Williams?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

Well, they just went up. I think if Wiliams isn't signed and traded to the West Coast the Mavs have a great shot of landing him as an unrestricted free agent.

Patrick (STL)

Will this Spurs dynasty ever end?

John Hollinger
  (12:34 PM)

Why would it? They're run better than any other organization in sports. They win because their management runs circles around everybody else and gets them better players. As long as that's the case, they'll keep succeeding.

Beza (CA)

As a Celtics fan, I have never been more disheartened after a loss since Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. If there is any glimmer of hope what would it be?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

That you finally looked like an NBA offense last night. Normally if Boston scores like that they're unbeatable because the defense is so good, but they had a quarter-and-a-half stretch where their D really let them down. And it did again late -- moan about the calls all you want, but Boston got three stops on Miami's final 16 trips, and one of those "stops" came when LeBron missed two free throws.

Tim (San Diego)

If Portland has two high picks. Trade them to the Bobcats for the #2? MJ is a gambler and a bad one at that. Possibility?

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

Not happening. Rich Cho is in charge of those decisions now and he's not going to trade a blue chip for two reds. The Blazers most likely path is to trade at least one of the picks for a current player, although they may use one on a point guard like Damian Lillard.

Todd (Tn)

What's the one team who didn't make the playoffs last season who you think is closest to making that leap next season now that the lottery is over?

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

Think you'd have to say New Orleans given that they're getting Davis. Houston, obviously, given how close they were last year. Detroit is something of a sleeper too.

Chris Bosh (Duh.., Miami)

When can I play in a real basketball game?

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

I'll say in Game 1 of the Finals, either June 10 or June 12.

Aaron (Indy)

Professor, what is your take on the opinion that the Pacers should think about trading Paul George while people are still high on him? He did not have a great playoffs and he isn't playing his natural position with the Pacers.

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

Do NOT do this. Big wings who can score are very difficult to find, and have very long and productive careers. If anything, trade Granger and get a more natural 2 who can handle a bit more and unglue the offense a bit.

Carlos (Memphis)

The team closest to making the leap next year is my pistons. With that being said i believe @ our position in the draft we should take barnes, zeller, or jones in that order? i like barnes for scoring, but like zeller @ center to move monroe to his natural pf position. Your thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (12:41 PM)

I like Barnes a lot subjectively, still working on my Draft Rater numbers but a big wing who can shoot like that has a pretty high probability of being at least a solid starter.

Trade Machine (NBA)

Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and Bulls 1st rounder for Mullens and the Bobcats #2 pick? Who says no?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

The CBA. Asik is a restricted free agent and can't be traded.

Roy Hibbert (Indiana)

Do I deserve a max contract? If not, can I "persuade" the Pacers or somebody else to give me one?

John Hollinger
  (12:43 PM)

No, but you'll get at least $10 million a year and perhaps more. The hard part is getting another offer sheet, because after these playoffs I think most teams are convinced that Pacers will match any offer.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Why are covering the ECF? Are you being punished?

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

I'm not, actually -- I am heading to OKC to cover Game 4, but I'm watching these games on the tube until then.

Joe (NY)

Can Ibaka guard Duncan?? I say no. That is why Brooks is sticking with Perkins whether it is the right move or not.

John Hollinger
  (12:45 PM)

That was his logic in Game 1, but I'd prefer Duncan post ups to pick-and-roll from Manu and Parker. They went to Ibaka in Game 2 and it seemed to work well, but I'd also like to see more of Collison, who is their best pick-and-roll defender.

Jon (New Orleans)

What free agents will the Hornets be targeting this off-season?

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

Eric Gordon. Otherwise they need to be patient. It's not a great crop this summer, there's a lot of money chasing not much talent, and the Hornets aren't exactly in "win now" mode anyway. They should look at trying to snatch a low-cost younger player that slips through the cracks, trade Okafor for another wing who can shoot, and then be patient.

Peter (Phx)

If Nash wants to leave, do you think the suns can do a sign and trade for him? Would portland be willing to give both raymond Felton and one of their picks for Nash??

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

Portland is under the cap and wouldn't need to do a sign-and-trade, there's really no advantage for them to do one. Also, the draft is before free agency, so they can't do a deal like that using this year's picks. The main benefit to sign-and-trade is if the Blazers (or another team) is already at the cap, and have a player the Suns would want in return.

Nick (Portland)

WOW, nobody would want Felton!!!

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

that too.

Sam (Dallas)

Why can't my dream of Nash and Dwight in for the Mavs not happen?

John Hollinger
  (12:49 PM)

Dallas doesn't have the trade pieces for Dwight and he's not a free agent until next summer (or, more likely, never). They could sign Nash and get Dwight a year from now, I suppose, but it seems highly unlikely.

Jon (New Orleans)

Should i re-buy my season tickets? I let them go after last year. I think a team of Davis, Gordon, and possibly Hillard will be really fun to watch.

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

I think the Hornets will be fun, yes, and Monty had them playing hard this year even though they were awful. Don't think it's a playoff team, but they'll be respectable, and I like the game environment down there.

Ian (Ohio)

Do think Beal is the answer for the Cavs at the SG? Is that who you would take?

John Hollinger
  (12:51 PM)

Wondering if Beal is a bit overrated. Shooter who didn't shoot well at Florida, I know they didn't use him optimally and I liked him when I saw him at Hoop Summit last year, but I want a surer thing with the fourth pick.

Handel (Canton)

Will the Kings stay in Cali or could we see them go to the Great Northwest?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

We just don't know yet. It seems like the Maloofs are hell-bent on blowing up any deal with the city and getting themselves to Anaheim, but this play still has a few acts left.

Dell Demps (Hiding)

Why don't I take any crap for the original Paul trade? The team inarguably would've been worse off with Scola, Martin and Odom leading them to Purgatory. It appears for all the world that I made that trade because I thought I'd look better to future employers as the architect of a 7th seed than as the guy who bottomed out for a high lottery pick, then got let go by new ownership before I could get credit for a turnaround.

John Hollinger
  (12:53 PM)

In general, I think Demps has done a real nice job in New Orleans, and Gustavo Ayon in particular was a heck of a find. But you are correct that the original CP trade would have been pretty terrible.

Brian (NJ)

Over/Under 5 years until we have a team in Seattle?

John Hollinger
  (12:54 PM)

Over. I won't bet the under until there's a building.

Bill (Indy)

What are the chances Indiana signs Eric Gord this summer? Did NO winning the lotto decrease those chances?

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

I think it decreased them a bit yes, just because winning the lottery probably increases Hornets' willingness to overpay a bit for Gordon now that there's a real nucleus. But can we interest you in Emeka Okafor?

Eric (Houston)

No Minny for potential non-playoff team to make it next year?

John Hollinger
  (12:56 PM)

Blanked on that one. Although it's going to be tough for anybody to push into the top eight in the West, as per usual. An already impossibly tough neighborhood just got more difficult with Hornets winning lottery.

Joel (Toronto)

Hey John! Are the raptors a playoff team next year? What about Bargnani being an All-Star reserve next year?

John Hollinger
  (12:59 PM)

Could be, given how Dwane Casey got them interested in playing defense last season. Very curious to see how that Bargnani-Valanciunas pairing works next year, and the Raps will have another high lotto pick to go with it. Still need better wings though, I'm not crazy about DeRozan and Kleiza is pretty limited.

Craig (Cincinnati)

Will the Lakers completely rebuild or will they only move Gasol? Who do you think they will use their trade exception money on?

John Hollinger
  (1:01 PM)

"use their trade exception" -- ha ha ha ha haha. That Odom trade was a pure salary dump. Don't be surprised if they amnesty Metta and offload more of their luxury tax burden. The main move this offseason will be trading Gasol, yes, and I wouldn't be surprised if Session either leaves for nothing or is sign-and-traded.

Zack (Vegas)

Any truth to the Garnett signing as a free agent with the Lakers this summer?

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

People will talk about it because he lives in Malibu in the offseason, but as well as he's played I'd be shocked if he's not back with the Celtics. L.A. can only offer him a pittance, by the way, because all they have is the taxpayer midlevel exception.

Mike-OB (OB)

The next coach of the Charlotte Bobcats is?

John Hollinger
  (1:03 PM)

I'll put money on Nate McMillan. Rich Cho has a familiarity with him from Portland and he has some connections down there. But this is just me speculating, I don't have any inside info.

David (Los Angeles)

Do Bogut, Lee, Thompson, and Curry make the Warriors a playoff team?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

They'll need to get very fortunate I think, given how loaded the West looks on paper. But a lot of water can go under the bridge in the offseason, so ask me again in four months.

David (NYC)

Why is it suddenly a foregone conclusion that the Lakers will trade Gasol? He's still a top-notch player, and I can't imagine all this talk is helping his market value

John Hollinger
  (1:05 PM)

Because they already traded him once, and because he's their only tradeable asset. They're committed to Kobe and Bynum, and Pau is a bit underutilized trying to be a floor-spacing 4 in their system, so the obvious move is to unlock some value by converting Pau into pieces that fit their system and cap better.

John Hollinger
  (1:06 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again at this time next week, and I suspect we may have our Finals match-up already set by then.