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January 14, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wallace

Michael Wallace
  (2:04 PM)

Thanks for joining me for another week of the NBA chat here on ESPN.com. Looking forward to getting to as many questions as I can. So let's get started.

Bryce (MKE)

Where does Larry Sanders rank among defensive players? Realistic that he is in running for DPOY?

Michael Wallace
  (2:05 PM)

Sanders is certainly on my All-Underrated team. He doesn't get the hype or the attention his game warrants. But he's truly a triple-double threat on many nights with his rebounding, scoring and shot-blocking ability. The only issue is his attitude and approach. He can be a bit of a loose cannon on the court. And that's gotten him in trouble with refs, teammates and his coaching staff.

Jeff (Wellington)

Who is the favorite to win the NBA FINALS this year? MIAMI, OKLAHOMA, OR NEW YORK?

Michael Wallace
  (2:07 PM)

Perhaps you're throwing the Knicks in there just for comic relief right now. They're not the favorites to do anything, and certainly haven't reached the level of expectations the Heat and Thunder have after last season.

Tramel (Los Angeles, CA)

Do you foresee the Heat making any big/small trades before the deadline, or live and die with their current roster? If so, who's out there that might be a great pick up. Thanks!

Michael Wallace
  (2:10 PM)

Pat Riley is already working the phones and even some of the marginal free agents who are looking to get back into the league. But I don't see the Heat making any major trades this season. They're not ready - or at least don't appear to be - to part with Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade. You know they're not dealing LeBron James. So beyond that, how much can Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller or Mario Chalmers really net you in return that's going to put the team in a better position than they are right now? That's the question Riley is pondering.

Josh (Chicago)

If you were starting a team, would you rather build around Irving or David?

Michael Wallace
  (2:13 PM)

I assume you mean Davis, as in Anthony Davis. If that's the case, my answer is Kyrie Irving. With the way the league is now, you need excellent point guard/perimeter play to win games. Irving is equally capable of going for 20 points or 15 assists on any given night. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Johnson with his versatility and scoring ability. But his history of injuries - including some very odd ones - is a bit of a concern.

Daniel (NC)

WHEN DO YOU THINK THAT THE BOBCATS WILL GET ANY BETTER??? Or will they ever get better??

Michael Wallace
  (2:15 PM)

Keep in mind, this was a playoff team only a couple of seasons ago. The feeling was that it's better to get worse in the short run and rebuild with youth and inexpensive contracts rather than compete for the seventh or eighth seed every year with a bit of a bloated payroll. Many teams agree with that approach, but the Bobcats are finding out that it's very difficult to bounce back from being really bad. This isn't the NFL. It's very tough in the NBA to go from young and cheap to deep conference playoff contention.

Kaycee (LA)

What do you make of the Steve Nash armpit towel to Metta World Peace face towel incident? New towel categories?

Michael Wallace
  (2:17 PM)

Yeah, that was absolutely hilarious when I saw it. Chalk that up to yet another chemistry issue with the Lakers. That was flat-out nasty.

Jim C. (Boise, Idaho)

Michael, thanks for chatting. With Jordan Hill apparently done for the season, Gasol still out, and Howard dinged up and all of this following Nash and Blake both missing most of the season to date, just how much of the Laker problems are a result of pieces on the team just not fitting and how much of it is incredibly bad luck? Have to think this team would be a lot better if they EVER had an extensive chance to gel together as a unit.

Michael Wallace
  (2:19 PM)

But that's part of the risk of putting together an older team of free agents. We all knew Dwight was damaged when he arrived. In fact, I'm more surprised that he's played as many games as he has this early in the season considering his back issues. The Lakers haven't been whole for any significant stretch this season. And they might not be at all this season. But I'm not of the opinion just yet that they won't make the playoffs. I still think they'll find a way to squeeze in.

Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)

Hey Michael, how many All Stars do you think the Warriors deserve to have?

Michael Wallace
  (2:21 PM)

Two: David Lee and Stephen Curry. But I also think it's tricky because you can also make a case for LaMarcus Aldridge and rookie Damian Lillard. That would be four of 12 spots, and I don't think all four get in. So the coaches will have a very tough time on their hands doling out the spots available beyond the starters who are voted in by the fans.

Shane (Louisville)

Were the Heat not impressed with The Birdman? I think he brings a lot of toughness and energy, if in playing shape. Thoughts?

Michael Wallace
  (2:23 PM)

There had to be some sort of conditioning questions from that workout last week. But that doesn't mean Chris Andersen has completely fallen off the Heat's radar. Miami gave a pair of 10-day contracts to Josh Harrellson and Jarvis Varnado, which only means this issue might be revisited with Andersen - or another free agent big - in another week or so.

Hart (Philippines)

Hi, im worried about CP3's condition. is he alright after tweaking his right knee in saturday's game against the magic?

Michael Wallace
  (2:27 PM)

The latest is the Clippers have declared Paul to be a game-time decision after he injured his right kneecap against Orlando over the weekend. The fact that he's even being considered to play is a good sign. But there's no reason to rush him during this season. You can't afford any more injuries if you're the Clippers.

Chris (Chicago)

What's the better reflection of who the Bulls really are: the great road record and victories over the Heat and Knicks, or the average home record and losses to the Suns and Bobcats?

Michael Wallace
  (2:29 PM)

Well, they're both of those teams. But the good thing about it is the Bulls are rising to the challenge when the lock in on facing one of the teams they expect to meet in the playoffs. Their dominant defense has always made them dangerous. The issue has always been whether they could find enough scoring to get them over the top of those close games against quality competition. So far, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer have answered that question while Derrick Rose is on the verge of making his return soon.

Ash (Chicago)

Hey Michael, what's your take on the Lakers supposed interest in Tyreke? Are they willing to say this is a bust, and if so maybe they should look to move D12...it's pretty obvious he does not care for playing with Kobe/Dantoni and could bolt, even if for less money? Thanks!

Michael Wallace
  (2:31 PM)

If you think this season has already been interesting and difficult for the Lakers, just wait until they have to have that point-blank conversation with Dwight Howard as the trade deadline approaches. If this season continues to blow up in their faces, and then he walks at the end of the season, it was all for naught. Good luck with trying to get Dwight to make up his mind in a month, when he couldn't do it in two years in Orlando.

Matt (DC)

Does the return of John Wall give the Wizards hope of obtaining respectability?

Michael Wallace
  (2:34 PM)

His return at least makes them an NBA team again. And things got off to a good start with that win against the playoff-bound Hawks. So Wall's return has already provided something for the Wizards.

Lewis (Flint Michigan)

Brandon Knight doesn't look like a natural point guard. Was he a 2 in college and should the pistons look elsewhere for a QB on the court?

Michael Wallace
  (2:36 PM)

The same can also be said of Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey. So between Knight, Stuckey and Bynum, the Pistons have three scoring, lead guards and not necessarily a floor general who specializes in facilitating for others. They will be a team to watch as the trade deadline nears, because they have assets teams would be interested in. They also could be a team that makes a run for the playoffs.

John (NYC)

Is having to claw back into games against mediocre teams early in the season taking a toll on LBJ? He's still playing great ball, but he doesn't seem to have the energy to single handily pull the heat back in recent loses (as opposed to early wins against Houston, San Antonio without starters, etc.)

Michael Wallace
  (2:38 PM)

There's something to that. Seeing him up close daily, it appears that LeBron is pacing himself at times to get through games until it's determined in the fourth quarter how much he needs to do to get the team over the hump. He's logged a ton of minutes over the past 13 months, and it's almost inhumane how he's willed himself through so many nagging injuries to stay on the court.

Steve (Berlin)

Hi Michael ... why doesn't the NBA send over Miami vs. Knicks? Wouldn't that be a much better PR-boost than the Pistons? I think that game will probably get lost in rest of Europe without those stars ...

Michael Wallace
  (2:41 PM)

Be thankful you didn't get the Hornets or Wizards. It could be much, much worse.

Greg (SoPo Maine)

So I'm a Celtics fan and even I didn't expect Avery Bradley's return to make this big a difference. Is he really that good?

Michael Wallace
  (2:42 PM)

I remember Doc Rivers saying back in early November that things wouldn't settle down into a comfortable patter for the Celtics until Bradley returned. His perimeter defense and ability to take some of the pressure off Rondo at point guard are invaluable to Boston. And we're seeing the impact right now.

nolen (canada)

Most underrated player in the league is.......?

Michael Wallace
  (2:47 PM)

I'll give you one from each conference. West: Stephen Curry. East: Joakim Noah.

tippy (michigan)

Are the Pistons a draft or player away before becoming relevent again. Some nights they look ok and others they stink?

Michael Wallace
  (2:49 PM)

Which means, to me, that they have the talent but lack the structure and consistency. I like some of the pieces they have on that roster. But that franchise hasn't had a clear and visible direction for a few years now.

Malik (New york )

Do you agree that one of the Heat's problem is Bosh trying to be a post up player ? I guess he is trying to prove people he can be tough....I think he should stick to pick and pop....

Michael Wallace
  (2:51 PM)

I totally disagree. Bosh, when he's on his game, has proved he can be one of the most versatile scoring big men in the league. I don't think the Heat give him enough opportunities to attack in the post. If the choice is to play off LeBron or play off Bosh, then the answer for Miami will always be to play off LeBron. The good thing about LeBron is that he's saying he needs to do more to make sure they play both through him and also off Bosh at the same time. We saw flashes of that in the Heat's 92-90 loss to Portland, when Bosh had 29 points on 13-of-18 shooting.

Johnson (London)

I've noticed that many sports writers use a singular verb when referring to sports teams. For example: "The Heat is planning to work out Andersen." Though technically correct, it always sounds off to me - thoughts?

Michael Wallace
  (2:53 PM)

That's funny, because I've worked for media outlets that have two different styles when it comes to that very subject. When I wrote for the Miami Herald, the style there was to write the Heat is ... But at ESPN, it's the Heat are. There have been times when I go back and forth with this in the same story, which is a problem. But I'm working on it. And, thankfully, I've got a great team of editors behind me to clean up the mess.

James (Miami)

With all the lakers big men injuries do you think keyon Martin could be headed there?

Michael Wallace
  (2:55 PM)

Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen have been mentioned more times in the past few months since they've been out of the league than at any point during their past two seasons in the league. There's a reason why both are still available, folks. Could they help a team in the frontcourt? Depends on the situation. But they're not the sole answer to any team's particular problem. Believe that.

Ben (WI)

Do you think Monta Ellis will be moved before the deadline?

Michael Wallace
  (2:59 PM)

I've said this before, and I still feel as strongly now as I did a few weeks back. The Bucks will trade either Jennings or Ellis and ultimately decide to build around the other. I think Monta is the better overall player. He seems to be the one more willing to buy in and stay. But the NBA is tricky. I also think Monta has the better trade value. Either way, I don't think Milwaukee wants to gamble with free agency and hope they can let them both walk and still attract free agents to come there. So they'll have to do their work at the trade deadline to address both current and future needs.

Michael Wallace
  (3:00 PM)

Well, that's my time for the week, folks. Thanks again for joining me. Let's do this again next week. Until then, peace. MW