Welcome to this week's edition of the ESPN.com NBA chat. I'm Michael Wallace. Glad to join you from AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, where I just literally walked out of the Heat's practice. Let's get right to the questions.
Michael, Coach Spo seems to still be tinkering with his rotationThe closing lineup should be PG Wade SG Allen SF Lewis PF James C Bosh
A lot of times, that closing lineup will depend on the feel of the game and the opponent. In most cases, that final spot alongside LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Ray will be determined by defensive-oriented matchups. When the Heat need rebounding, you're more likely to see Udonis. When there's a versatile perimeter player with length going off, Battier is the man for that job. And if it's a speedy point guard, then Mario Chalmers has a chance to be in the closing unit. So it'll be very flexible.
Dear Michael: last week you discussed that the Heat would not be interested in adding big men like Kenyon Martin and the Birdman because of the locker room culture. I agree, but isn't it also because the way the roster is built there's no room for one-dimensional players like these two? The Heat needs shooters and versatile defenders to pair with the big three, so if they decide to add a big man to the roster it would be guys who can shoot from mid-range and 3, guys like Matt Bonner, Mehmet Okur or Ryan Anderson (not that these guys are available). Thoughts? Keep up the good work.
Fair point. Although I do think Kenyon Martin, if healthy and motivated, adds some versatility on both ends of the court. He's a capable mid-range shooter and can defend - or at least he once could defend - as many as three positions. But again, this is all hypothetical. My reasons for why the Heat won't bite, at least right now, haven't changed - even if the injury to Shane Battier lingers longer than expected.
Is it possible we might get a Knicks-Heat Eastern Conference Finals this year?
It's possible. Although it's still way to early to give the Knicks that much credit. They've gotten off to a great start, and if Jason Kidd can remain healthy and provide the leadership he's shown so far, this could be an interesting race in the East. I still have the Knicks ultimately behind Indiana and Boston. But considering how inconsistent the Celtics and Pacers have been so far this season, that spot in the conference finals, most likely opposite the Heat, will be up for grabs.
Do you think the Knicks can keep this hot start up? Are they legitimate championship contenders?
As I said in the previous answer, let's not get carried away after four weeks of basketball. After all, isn't that the sort of rush to judgement and knee-jerk reaction we saw last season when Jeremy Lin had the equivalent of this same hot stretch? Let's let it play out. I do like the Knicks much more than I did a year ago, when it comes to their chances for deep-playoff success. Let's reassess where they are at the All-Star break before making them automatic title contenders after fewer than 20 games.
Do you think Derrick Williams has lived up to expectation?Can he still be a contributor with Kevin Love in the lineup?
Because of Love's versatility, there should be ample opportunity for Williams to continue to develop. He hasn't completely blown away the league in his first couple of seasons yet. But if he learns to parlay that skill set and athleticism into more effort and consistency on the defensive end, he can certainly carve out a significant role. In other words, there's still time. Plus, that roster always seems to be in flux for one reason or another. He's not the only one hurting for stability.
What team matchups has a better chance of making the NBA Finals 2013, The Miami Heat vs Lakers or Thunder, Or The NY Knicks vs Lakers or Thunder?
So this is what it's come to already, huh? Gotta love the enthusiasm of New York fans.
In the 2013 NBA AllStars would you rather have the original 5 players PG,SG,SF,PF,C or the new NBA Owners 2 guards and 3 Fowards?
I like the traditional format. But if you're going to tweak it, which the league is doing this year, why not go all the way and just allow the top five vote-getters, regardless of position, start the game. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a shootout between a starting five that would feature Kobe, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin vs. Rondo, Rose, Deron Williams, Wade and LeBron. Now that's star power.
Did you hear Mario Chalmers rap?
Does he at least rap better than he throws lob passes for dunks? If so, I might take a listen.
Harrison Barnes looks like he is going to be bigtime! Your thought?
I absolutely love his size, shooting and athleticism. He needs a bit more of a killer instinct. He reminds me of Rudy Gay in so many ways, but there's nothing I dislike about his potential and ability. I've felt that way since he entered the draft.
do you think rondo can catch magic for the record,and if he gets the record is he the best point gaurd in the nba
Rondo has made passing look so easy, especially this season. I think he'll catch Magic, considering the way Doc Rivers is willing to keep him in games that get out of reach one way or the other. I think Rondo is a top-3 point guard in the league, but clearly the best facilitator. Overall, I'd still take CP3 and, maybe, D-Will over him, though. But that's about it.
Disregarding the Lakers' early season struggles, in terms purely of matchups, who would have the best chance of beating them in the WC playoffs?
Memphis. OKC. Clippers. Maybe Spurs. If the Lakers can't get Nash healthy and find a way to involve Dwight more, they're not much better than last season's team that got dumped by the Thunder.
Pau Gasol for Josh Smith, good or bad move?
I'd withhold judgement until Nash returns to see how well he works with Pau over an extended stretch.
The Phoenix Suns have assembled a team that is tailor-made to go .500. Is it just me, or is this the worst thing that can happen to a sports fan? 1st round picks around the mid-teens are about as predictable as an earthquake. How can they return to the top of the stack if they build a team just good enough to be average?
First, hope one of those mid-first round picks becomes a top-five type talent in terms of production. It's happened before. Beyond that, you have to spend - maybe even overspend - to entice free agents to come there. Other than that, hope to get into the playoffs and pull off the kind of first-round upset that energizes the fan base the way teams did in Memphis and Golden State a few years back.
There has been a Ron Artest sighting in LA this year. Hope he can keep it up. Looks like Ron from his Pacer days
There's something about being in a contract year of sorts that provides a bit of motivation and incentive to get in shape, keep your head and play inspired ball. MWP has been a bright spot for the Lakers amid all the clouds that have surrounded that team so far this season.
Early favorites for Most improved player so far?
I'd start with Jrue Holiday, Greg Monroe, Omer Asik and Eric Bledsoe
Do you see LeBron leaving Miami to be with his pal Chris Paul?
What? For dinner on the Heat's next west coast trip? Sure. For a summer workout session or two? Absolutely. To sign an long-term contract to play as basketball teammates? Nah, not so much.
who are your top 5 power fowards of all time mine are Duncan,Malone,Barkley,Garnett,McHale
Agree. Off the top of my head.
with the pacers struggling and needing a 2 guard wether granger is healthy or not, do you think they could pry tyreke evans from the kings for stephenson hansbrough and a pick the money works?
Unless the Kings are trying to go out of business in the NBA, there's no way they'd take that in return for Tyreke. Or, let me say there shouldn't be any way they'd consider that move.
Michael, Duncan's been a center most of his career.
Actually, the Spurs have gone out of their way most of his career to make sure he's been listed as a power forward - even to the extreme of putting 6-6 DeJuan Blair at center.
Demarcus Cousins top 5 center, yes or no
Top-five talent and potential at center? Yes. Top-five resident? Not yet. He'd fit behind Dwight, Bynum, Gasol, Garnett, Bosh, Hibbert, Horford and Tyson on my list.
Which Tobacco Road star will have the better NBA career, Harrison Barnes or Austin Rivers?
Way too soon to tell. I think Barnes has more upside and versatility. But I wouldn't rule Rivers out after such an unfortunate start in his first month as an NBA player.
Thoughts on the Pacers? Despite the loss to the Spurs, it seems like the offense is starting to click a little bit.
Give it another game, and see how they respond. The Pacers, as talented as they are, have probably been the biggest disappointment so far among last season's playoff teams considering expectations. Obviously, Granger's injury put them behind the gun from the start. But there's still enough there to perform much better than they have been so far. I'm still waiting on David West to be that elite-level power forward I thought he was on his way to becoming a couple of seasons ago. He's the real key to that team.
Michael, PLEASSSEEE take a Raptors question. Your pals north of the border are tired of Andrea Bargnani. Does he have any trade value at all?? If so, what?
If Dallas had anything to offer Toronto, he'd be a great backup/insurance for Dirk. He'd also look pretty good in a Spurs uniform as well, considering the type of magic Popovich has been known to work with that supporting cast year after year.
If you are the Utah Jazz, do you trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap? One of them needs to go.
Despite the lack of true post-up bigs in the league these days, I tend to think Millsap is the more valuable and versatile of the two. But you're right about there being too much duplication on that roster.
Best free agency signing this year?
Ray/Ray. Take your pick. Ray Allen or Raymond Felton, although Felton was technically a sign-and-trade deal.
Wow, folks. Time flies. That's my time for the week. Thanks again for joining me, and I look forward to being right back here again next week. Take care, and until next time, peace. MW