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December 10, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wallace

Michael Wallace
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks for joining me for another week of NBA discussion on the chat. There's plenty to get to, so I'll start with the questions right now. Let me thank all of you in advance, especially those who send questions that I may not be able to get to.

Mike G. (Vermont)

Who are your top three coaches in the NBA? I ask because I don't think Spo should be anywhere near that list. I get the feeling that the players don't have a tremendous amount of respect for him.

Michael Wallace
  (2:03 PM)

I disagree with your take that Spoelstra doesn't garner an awful lot of respect among players. As a matter of fact, I think what he's shown over the past two seasons has allowed him to write his ticket as a coach in the league for decade, although that might not always be in Miami. At any rate, I think the coaches who have done the best job in my book so far this season are Mike Woodson, Lionel Hollins and Gregg Popovich.

Beza (CA)

Jeff Green is slowly but surely scoring at a much more consistent and aggressive rate. What kind of impact will he provide for the Celtics?

Michael Wallace
  (2:05 PM)

Obviously this team will go as far as Garnett, Rondo and Paul take them. But I believe Jeff Green can put this team over the top if he plays at an All-Star level. He certainly has that kind of talent. But he's still working his way back into NBA condition and rhythm after sitting out all of last season with the heart condition.

Zack (LA)

I dont see how the Lakers can keep Pau, he doesn't fit in the system. D'Antoni needs a stretch 4, it's almost a given that they need to trade him. I dont think Steve Nash coming back will make Pau hit shots from behind the arc.

Michael Wallace
  (2:07 PM)

If that's the case, who has proved they can fit into D'Antoni's system? Dwight surely hasn't. At least not yet. The Lakers need time. I know we all want to rush the process and believe they should be contending and looking like a powerhouse right now. But this is an aging roster with players being asked to do things they haven't been accustomed to doing before in their careers in some cases. It's ugly now. But I'm sure it'll all be much prettier by prom season out there.

Justin (LA)

At what point should I be concerned about Dwight possibly leaving as a free agent? Didn't seem possible at first, but if the Lakers barely make the playoffs and get beat in the 1st round couldn't or wouldn't he leave?

Michael Wallace
  (2:09 PM)

You shouldn't be worried at all. Not because there are no concerns about him leaving, because he very well could bolt. But simply because it's December and you don't want to waste more time than necessary worrying about something not even Dwight has a clue about right now. Let me ask you this: After what you've seen and heard from Dwight these past couple of years, would you believe anything he says even if he declared right now he's definitely staying in L.A.? Don't think so.

Wylie (Plano, TX)

Based on what you've seen so far. Who beats the Thunder in a 7 game series?

Michael Wallace
  (2:12 PM)

I can give you three teams. Memphis, San Antonio and Miami. I can also tell you what you see in December isn't always representative of how things work out in June. The Thunder seem to have regrouped from the early transition away from James Harden. The way they're playing right now, and the attitude they're playing with, reminds me a lot of how the Heat came back last season after losing to Dallas in the Finals. There's a championship-or-bust mentality in OKC now.

LOLOLOL (Lakers)

Lakers are absolutely terrible. That is all sir.

Michael Wallace
  (2:13 PM)

Thanks for your contribution, there. Sir.

Ash (Chicago)

Hey Mike, love the chats! Why on earth do you think the Lakers refuse to be a slow, pound the ball inside type of team? Is it Dantoni's stubborness about his system? They clearly are too old and slow to be a running, fast break you think Kobe's chase for the all time scoring title might be hurting the team? If I had Howard, Gasol, MWP, Jordan Hill etc, I would be walking the ball up and punding it inside....what gives? Seems they are a lost cause 20 games in.

Michael Wallace
  (2:16 PM)

They are a lost cause right now. But they are too smart and too talented for that to be the case long-term. If the Lakers are still struggling and are barely a .500 team by the All-Star break, then you have to wonder whether this is truly going to work. But they need time. It's almost like they're starting over from training camp right now. It is fair to wonder, though, if this is the NBA's version of the Philadelphia Eagles after that mega free agency overhaul last year.

josh (oklahoma city)

the thunder is number 1 right

Michael Wallace
  (2:17 PM)

Sure, if Hollinger and/or Stein say so.

Adam (New York)

Chris Anderson can provide a defensive presence why isnt Miami going after him and say release Pitmann or Harrelson

Michael Wallace
  (2:18 PM)

Because they're not desperate right now, and believe in their system and the personnel currently on the roster. An injury or two could change that, though.

Ben (WI)

Do you think Monta Ellis will be traded by the deadline and who do you think would be interested?

Michael Wallace
  (2:24 PM)

If the season ended now, they Bucks would make the playoffs and be a serious headache for any team atop the East in a potential first-round matchup with Ellis in tow. It just depends on where the Bucks want to go after this season, because they also have to make a long-term call on Brandon Jennings. Would Monta fit great as a much-needed scorer to provide a significant playoff boost with a team such as Chicago, Denver or Indiana? Absolutely. Eventually, I think Milwaukee tries to keep either Jennings or Ellis, but not both.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Why are the Miami Heat absolutely terrible against the New York Knicks?

Michael Wallace
  (2:27 PM)

A pair of 20-point losses shouldn't be considered a fluke. But if you'd favor the Knicks over the Heat right now in a 7-game playoff series, I'd have to check your temperature just a bit. I do think New York has a superior supporting cast, improved defense and veteran leadership to guide Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith through those streaky moments. The Knicks are a legit contender in the East if they can stay healthy and don't self-destruct once Amar'e Stoudemire comes back from his injury.

Osi (Maryland)

Do you think Dwyane Wade will go down as one of the top 3 shooting guards in NBA history? If not top 3, top 5?

Michael Wallace
  (2:30 PM)

Top 10, perhaps. I'm not sure about top 3 or 5. There's Kobe, Michael and Jerry West. Then there's a tier right below that which would include the likes of Reggie Miller, Drexler, Iverson, Wade, etc., and I'm sure I'm missing some great guards from the 60s, 70s and 80s as well.

Rebeca (Weston)

Do you think that the heat are 6th in the league like the power raking suggests

Michael Wallace
  (2:33 PM)

If you're judging them strictly on how they're playing right now, that's probably about right. But neither of the commissioners of those polls would pick five teams against the Heat in a best-of-7 series. I'm pretty certain about that.

Matt (St. Paul)

Nice rookie class eh? the two AD's and Lillard each look like they've got franchise player potential, don't you think?

Michael Wallace
  (2:35 PM)

And don't forget about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in Charlotte, either. I'm starting to like this rookie class a lot better than I thought I would.

Mike (NJ)

Where are you in the will-Stat-hurt-or-help debate? Knicks need scoring in the paint. Should that be done from the starting line-up or off the bench?

Michael Wallace
  (2:38 PM)

In a perfect situation, you'd play Stoudemire off the bench behind Tyson Chandler on a second unit that needs scoring and a change-of-pace. I'm just not confident you'd get the same ball-movement, spacing and pace the Knicks are playing with right now if Amar'e is in the starting lineup alongside Carmelo. Those are two traditional ball-stoppers. This will all depend on how well Amar'e buys into the system. From what I understand, he's never really been a headcase in that regard. We'll see.

Mr. Ryan (Toronto)

In your opinion, based off what has happened so far in the season, who is the likely MVP winner? Is LeBron still the front-runner, especially with Durant improving his defense and playmaking and putting up stats comparable to LeBron?

Michael Wallace
  (2:40 PM)

My top five right now, at the quarter point of the season, would be LeBron, Durant, Chris Paul, Zach Randolph and Jrue Holiday.

Tommy (Madison, WI)

What's up with Greg Monroe digressing while Brandon Knight dominating the Pistons' scoreboard?

Michael Wallace
  (2:42 PM)

I spoke with Greg earlier this season, and he talked about making this a breakout season in terms of his development. He has the ability. But one thing about him that's been an issue throughout his career dating back to Georgetown was whether he would be assertive enough to demand touches. He's a soft-spoken guy who doesn't really have a mean streak. But he has to get a little more selfish to make his game - and his team - better.

Mike (Bay Area)

Is Golden State one of the deepest teams in the NBA?

Michael Wallace
  (2:44 PM)

They've had depth for a couple of seasons now. But the energy and chemistry they're playing with now, I have to admit, has been a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure I saw this team coming together this quickly. It's amazing what Stephen Curry's health and unquestioned leadership can do for this team. They'll be fun to watch. But they'll also have some ups and downs throughout this season because of their inconsistency on defense. But what team in the league isn't inconsistent defensively right now?

Vinnie (ATL)

The reason national writers seemed to dismiss the Hawks in the past was because of the same core and second round exits in the playoffs. This Hawks team is different and playing well. With Williams, Harris, and Stevenson, they have a different team. Why no love for the Hawks?

Michael Wallace
  (2:47 PM)

I have plenty of respect for the Hawks. They do have a different supporting cast and Larry Drew is one of the more underrated coaches in the league. For me, it just comes down to whether or now I can trust Josh Smith to make the right play on a consistent basis late in a playoff game. For now, I'll believe it when I see it.

Rebeca (Florida)

By the end of the season who will be a bigger threat to the heat: the celtics or the Knicks?

Michael Wallace
  (2:50 PM)

Great question. My instincts told me to type "Celtics" here, just off of reputation. But I do believe the Knicks will have the Heat's full attention, based on how they're playing now. The playoffs are still a long way away, and it's hard to account for injuries and other issues. But something tells me the Heat would almost rather play Boston than New York - by a slight margin.

Sam (Toronto)

Hey Michael, I am a big DWade fan and hope he bounces back and gets into top form soon. I do think the talks by many analysts and fans about his demise are greatly exaggerated. My question is if DWade is actually in serious decline and continues to decline faster than expected, is Lebron more likely to leave in 2014?

Michael Wallace
  (2:53 PM)

I agree with you. I think the talk about Wade's demise is overstated. He's not completely healthy and is still trying to get his legs back under him after the offseason surgery. He's a soon-to-be 31 year old shooting guard who relies heavily on his athleticism. So there will be some decline with his explosiveness. But I also think Wade's numbers have dipped some because he defers more and more each year to LeBron, which his not a bad thing. Still, Wade's efficiency numbers have been the best of his career since he's been alongside LeBron. So there's some give and take there. I wouldn't worry too much about it now.

John (N. Carolina)

Is LeBron close to a lock for another MVP season or is KD close behind?

Michael Wallace
  (2:56 PM)

That completely depends on voter apathy at this point. LeBron could be the MVP each year. His numbers and efficiency numbers never taper off too far from one season to the next. So it'll come down to whether voters are simply tired of giving the MVP to him every year. Durant is clearly the second-best player in the league. But I think it's also obvious that LeBron is clearly the best. All that said, I'm not sure if any player is more valuable to his team's entire profile than CP3.

Taylor (Detroit MI)

Does OKC make a move at the trade deadline or stand pat?

Michael Wallace
  (2:59 PM)

The way they've played lately, there's no need to change anything there. All teams have needs, and the Thunder could use another low-post scorer. But their chemistry has completely recovered from the Harden trade, it seems. Any tweak now would seem to be made only for the sake of tweaking.

Michael Wallace
  (3:00 PM)

That's my time for this week. Thanks for all of the questions. I wish I could get to them all. But let's do this again next week, right here. Until then, take care and peace. MW