Thanks for joining me for this week's ESPN.com NBA chat. I know there's much bigger sports news going on elsewhere, but I'm more than glad to answer whatever questions you guys have. Let's get right to it.
Michael, how would you rank the top-5 seeds in the East for next season, if you had to predict at this early date?
I think I hit a similar question like this last week, but the pecking order in the East heading into next season - as it stands right now, at least - is as follows.1. Miami2. Boston3. Indiana4. Brooklyn5. TBA (depending on several factors, starting with where Dwight Howard ends up and what effect it will have elsewhere).
Micheal, Who you got? 2013 FinalsLakers- Howard/Kobe/Gasol/Nash/JamisonHeat- LBJ/D.Wade/Bosh/Allen/Lewis
Way too soon to predict that. But what I hope to have on my hands in that matchup is an intriguing seven-game series.
Would it make sense for Phoenix to go after Barbosa or Redd for wing depth?
Depth - as well as experience. This Suns team made itself over with quite a few young and athletic pieces. Of course, when you lose Grant Hill and Steve Nash, you automatically get much, much younger even if there's still a roster of 30-year-olds left behind. The Suns are rebounding pretty nicely for a team that lost two Hall of Famers in one offseason. Add one more productive veteran, as your question suggests, and they'll be competitive for one of the final playoff spots out West, barring major injuries.
Winners and losers of this years off-season? I really like what the lakers mavericks and hawks did.
I'd start with Brooklyn, Boston, the Lakers, Miami, Dallas and Indiana from a competitive standpoint. I really like what Minnesota is trying to do. As far as the losers, I still can't understand what Houston is doing. Chicago's offseason has been curious, to say the least. And Orlando is downright depressing right now with this Dwight saga. The Hawks get the gold star for addition by subtraction.
Will the Heat be looking to sign a veteran big man for the minimum and who is the best option from the remaining big men available who would come for a minimum deal?
Pat Riley always holds a roster spot or two open for late-summer additions via trades or free agency signings. That's the case right now as well, with the Heat having two roster spots open. At last check, there were a couple of solid options still out there in terms of veteran help at the power positions, although Jordan Hill is off the market now that he's returning to the Lakers. There's Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen, Rony Turiaf and Andray Blatche to name a few. I'd include Greg Oden in that mix, but there's really no definitive answer on his health status right now.
Yo Mike! How good do you think Perry Jones can be? Will he contribute in his rookie year?
I like him a lot. We all saw him slide down the draft board a little bit. But he ended up in a great spot out there in OKC. He could be the steal of the draft - at least the latter half of the first round. The question is will he focus and buy into the system. If so, Jones could even be an upgrade over what the Thunder had a few years ago in Jeff Green.
You think the mavs have a chance at the the title? I was thinking they were going to have a super offseason with Williams but that didn't happen. Do you think they rebounded nicely with the people they got? And will it be enough to even make a playoff run? Thanks go mavs!
I'm not sure about being title-ready in that West. But the Mavs did regroup exceptionally well after missing out on Deron Williams and - presumably - Dwight Howard. When you rebound by snagging Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman - all for a relative bargain - you've done some nice work. We'll see how well this latest project can mesh. This will be at least Dirk's third different supporting casts in as many seasons.
Will the Hornets get close to a playoff seed this year?
I highly doubt it. They are in the very early stages of a rebuild job. I like the key pieces they have. But they have a long way to go to get into the playoff discussion out west. Again, they're headed in the right direction. But I can't put them past any team that made the playoffs in the West last season - or even a team or two that just missed the cut, such as Minnesota.
Who do you think had the worst Draft Picks in the 2012 NBA Draft?
Way too soon to start evaluating that. Let them play at least a few regular season games first.
If a deal gets done to send Dwight Howard to the Lakers, can or will they stop the Miami Heat from starting a dynasty?
For weeks, no make that months now, that's been a really, really, really big "if" regarding Dwight and the Lakers. But I'll indulge, since I keep getting this question. Assuming Dwight's in L.A., and both teams are healthy, you have to give the edge to the Lakers just because of their sheer balance and ability to score from anywhere on the floor. But at the same time, OKC had a balance advantage over the Heat and look how that turned out. That's just how much pressure LeBron James can put on a defense when he's focused, confident and committed. I'd love to see/cover that potential matchup. My only rooting interest, however, would be that it go seven games.
Who's the better point guard Rajon Rondo or Deron Willams ?
Personally, I like Rondo better. But from an objective view, I think it's obvious that Williams is the better overall point guard. If you're starting a team, you'd pick Deron for sure. He can beat you more consistently in a number of ways. We've seen Rondo put up some crazy numbers the past few years. But Deron can do the same, plus hang 40 on you if he really wanted to do so with his shooting alone.
Will the cavs be a contender if they are able to pick up bynum and a sf from orlando
Sure. A playoff contender, that is. Especially if they keep Kyrie healthy. But that says more about the logjam of mediocrity that'll exist in the East beyond the top four or five seeds (Miami, Boston, Indiana, Brooklyn) based on how this offseason has transpired.
If the Knicks don't make it out of the first round of the playoffs who are the trading; 'Melo' or 'S.T.A.T.'?
I used to think some contracts were simply impossible to trade. But what I've since learned is that there's a match (or desperate team with cap space) for every bad contract out there. Somewhere. We learned it with Rashard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas. Then came Joe Johnson's move to Brooklyn. I believe Amar'e and Carlos Boozer are destined to be linked some kind of way in similar fashion.
Ray Allen has made more three point shots than Reggie Miller in the NBA, but I still consider Reggie a better shooter. What do you think?
We could debate that for days. I like Reggie as the better shooter on the move, or off the dribble. I like Ray better in catch-and-fire situations.
I completely disagree with your notion last week that Orlando should call Dwight's bluff. Orlando should be focused on rebuilding their team and not on some petty feud with Dwight. Having Dwight on the Orlando team would only halt the team's progress and if Dwight were to get injured again, would hurt their leverage. Trade Dwight before the season, get young assets and get a lottery pick in 2013. Orlando should be making calls to Houston for a 3-team trade with the Lakers. Enough with this foolishness and indecision from both Dwight and the Orlando Magic franchise.
You don't think the Magic have worked the phones trying to get this done? Come on, man. Of course they have. I could be wrong, but I'm of the opinion that the Brooklyn deal will still be on the table by the trade deadline next season. But the Magic don't have as much leverage as they'd like to think they have. The irony is that Dwight is just as stuck.
The Spurs have replaced James Anderson with Nando De Colo. That's it. Is that enough to remain a contender?
The Spurs didn't need to make a major splash with the roster. As long as they've got Pop, Duncan, Manu, Parker and a solid supporting cast, they'll be a title contender. The most amazing thing in the playoffs last season was how that series against OKC turned around so quickly after those first two games.
What can we expect from wade next season in terms of health? Will he be able to work with Tim Grover all off-season to get into the best shape possible?
Wade's health has always been a tricky subject. But aside from that one season, when his shoulder and knee both required offseason surgery, there hasn't really been anything major. It's always those tricky, nagging issues that hit Wade from year to year. You can normally build in a week with those migraines. You can add another week with a calf strain. And possibly another with some knee soreness. If there is a significant concern, it's that he's pushing into his 30s now and that the attacking style he has always played so well will catch up with him at a moment's notice. But Wade remains an elite guard in the league when he's right. And he should be right by the start of next season.
What do you think of the Pacers' moves this offseason? Do you think they are a better team? Do you see anymore moves up their sleeves? They had significant interest in Delfino.
I don't like that they lost Bird in the front office and Collison on the court. But I do think the Pacers kept the most important player they needed to in Roy Hibbert. But that team won't break through and reach potential title-contending status until and unless David West regains his form from New Orleans. He's got to be Karl Malone for those guys, or as close as he can get to that level.
Well, that's my time for this week. Thanks, as always, for joining me and chatting NBA. Take care until next time. Peace. MW