Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 26, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Kevin Pelton

Derrick (Garden City)

Hey Kevin, is the Bulls defense this good or the Nets just missing some shots? Noah doesn't look good.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:02 PM)

A little bit of both. With Noah and Gibson active, even if less than full strength, the Bulls have reversed their defensive slide from the second half of the regular season. With Butler at shooting guard, they're putting four above-average defenders on the court. But nobody is as good defensively as last night's results. The Nets missed some shots and it's beyond obvious that P.J. Carlesimo can't play Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace together for long stretches against this D.

Lawrence (Toronto)

What are your thoughts on Patrick Beverley. Real deal?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:04 PM)

I think so. I haven't taken a good look at his European stats, but he's been doing this for a few months now in the NBA and we saw on Wednesday night how his impressive per-minute stats would translate in a larger role. I don't think you can fluke athleticism, and Beverley is a freak athlete.

victor falcon (texas)

the spurs and laker game is over? right

Kevin Pelton
  (4:05 PM)

The game hasn't even started! But the series, which I assume you mean, is indeed surely over if the Lakers start Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.

tony (cambodia)

Will the Dubs lose their defensive guru, Mike Malone, to a head coaching job?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:06 PM)

We don't seem to be hearing a ton of Malone buzz lately, which is odd to me. He deserves a lot of credit for how well the Warriors have played this year, and I think he's earned a chance to run his own team.

dub (arkansas)

Is it true that Lebron James said that nobody in the history of the NBA can guard positions 1 through 5 like him? If so, has he never heard of a guy named Magic??

Kevin Pelton
  (4:07 PM)

I think even Magic would admit that while he could play all those positions, and physically match up, he couldn't *defend* them as successfully as LeBron. By the end he couldn't really successfully defend the position he did play.

zack (stl)

What is your opinion of the Nets decision to reportedly extend Billy King? Yes, they made the playoffs, but most of his moves (Johnson trade, Wallace signing) look like bad moves and his previous track record is hardly awe inspiring.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:10 PM)

I'm on record as believing this will be Brooklyn's best team. Brook Lopez's development and Deron Williams' post-All-Star play offer more hope for the next few seasons, but Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace are headed the wrong direction and it will be difficult for the Nets to upgrade the roster. And if this team isn't good enough to get out of the first round ... well, the extension assures that Billy King will be around to live with the results.

Charles (San Jose)

Is this year's Laker squad going to have an impact on future front offices looking to put together squads largely consisting of older players?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:11 PM)

Possibly. I don't know that anyone, Lakers included, specifically sets out to build an aging roster. If the Lakers could have gotten a PG as good as current Nash but still in their prime, I'm sure they would have considered that. It's sort of what you have to do when constrained by the cap and players looking for a title.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:12 PM)

I think the more interesting example is someone like New York that built with age around its core. Those vets came cheap, but the players in the frontcourt have all ended up breaking down to some extent or another.

SirNobsAlot (Kryzakistan)

Is this the pocket square lab rats that reggie miller was referring to? http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Keep-GP-Young-fans-take-to-Web-1054401.php

Kevin Pelton
  (4:14 PM)

No, this is: https://si0.twimg.com/profile_images/1682274971/me_tux.jpg

Dan (NJ)

Thoughts on P.J. Carlesimo's playoff rotations? He's playing Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans together despite this: "@johnschuhmann: In last 2 games, BKN is a -26 in 42 minutes w/ Evans & Wallace on the floor together, +15 in 54 other minutes." Also, Brook Lopez has only played 34 mpg and has been the team's only consistently good player with a PER of 28.14?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:15 PM)

Already touched on Evans and Wallace. I don't know that I see Brook Lopez as being the kind of guy who is going to be effective for 40 minutes. Would you rather get 40 decent minutes from him or 34 good ones?

Eric (Houston)

Will we see Russell Westbrook again at any point during the PO?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:15 PM)

At this point, I would say no based on the reports he's considering opting for meniscus repair than the more common, and quicker, removal.

Eddie (Fresno)

Does Westbrook's injury open up the possibilities for the Denver/GS winner? Seems like the matchup with OKC was the biggest obstacle for each.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:16 PM)

OKC is the biggest obstacle, but San Antonio is still in the way, so I think Westbrook's injury opens things up for the Spurs more than anyone else. But it opens things up for everyone in the West.

Matthew (Wayne)

Do you think the NBA should come down with a punishment for Beverly?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:18 PM)

I'll answer your question with a question: If Westbrook wasn't hurt, would there be any possibility of a punishment? If not, then there shouldn't be in the case.

Jasen (North Royalton, OH)

Kevin, have enjoyed your chats since you have come on board. Wanted to know what you think Chris Grant's plan will be with the Cav's roster this offseason now that Mike Brown is in the fold. They have a lot of assets but can they be parlayed in a trade for Aldridge or Love?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:19 PM)

I think both of those teams would ask for Kyrie Irving in return. I'm not sure there's enough value elsewhere on the roster, even with Tristan Thompson's growth, to make a sensible deal for either of those guys otherwise.

Alec (Los Angeles)

Assuming the Clippers can get past Memphis, what are their chances against the Thunder? Seems like they should be able to really exploit the PG matchup (Jackson-Fisher v. Paul-Bledsoe) to offset the Durant mismatch AND they have the deeper team.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:19 PM)

In that scenario, Westbrook's injury would be great news for the Clippers. I wouldn't want Fisher handling the ball anywhere near Eric Bledsoe. Like on the same court. But a lot of work to do to get there.

Armand (Maryland)

Who projects best going forward out of Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Jonas Valanciunas, and Tristan Thompson?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:20 PM)

I would say Favors > Valanciunas > Thompson > Kanter.

Drew (Abilene, Texas)

Good afternoon, Kevin! I was wondering what your thoughts were on potential retaliation. Do you expect a cheap shot from an OKC enforcer, like Perkins, and if so, does the league have any precedent for handling such a situation?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:21 PM)

I would be stunned by that. It's not really in the Oklahoma City culture, and they have a playoff series to win. They can't afford a starter getting ejected and/or suspended.

Brian (Bay Area)

Hey Kevin, How would you rate Mike D's stint coaching the Lakers considering all the injuries and no training camp? Would you fire him in the off-season if you were Jim Buss??

Kevin Pelton
  (4:22 PM)

I suppose that hinges on how it impacts Dwight Howard's chances of returning. I don't think D'Antoni performed so poorly to merit firing, but if he wasn't the right fit in the first place and the Lakers realize that now, better for both sides to make the change than try to stick it out.

Abdul (Houston)

What is better for Rockets this offseason? Sign Dwight to a 4 year max deal or trade for Pau Gasol's expiring contract and use him as trade bait?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:24 PM)

If you have the chance to get Howard, I think you have to do it. Gasol could be an interesting Plan B, especially if the Rockets aren't interested in Josh Smith. Still, the failure of their big lineups in this playoff series doesn't augur well for putting Gasol and Omer Asik together.

DSMok1 (Maine)

How much stock should I put in plus/minus stats saying OKC was still elite without Russ, as long as they had KD on the floor?... ... I was afraid of that.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:25 PM)

I wrestled with that as I was writing my Westbrook reaction piece (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9215317/nba-russell-westbrook-injury-faq). One thing I looked at that didn't make the column was lineups with Jackson at PG, Durant at SF and two traditional bigs. Those were not very successful, although the sample size is tiny.

Keith H (Seattle)

Kevin, your Auto Update needs to be activated.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:26 PM)

I refreshed and it turned on. Give that a shot if you're having this problem.

Mike (NY)

Does Mutombo rates as highly by modern defensive advanced stats as he does by his numerous defensive accolades. Or was he more a "lots of blocked shots = DPOY", kind of guy?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:27 PM)

I don't know if I've seen plus-minus for Mutombo in his prime, but otherwise none of the stats I've seen have indicated he was anything but dominant defensively. Even in his late 30s, his defensive plus-minus was consistently solid.

kit (mpls)

Kevin what are your thoughts on Flip for Kahn at Twolves President? As much as I like removing Kahn, does this mean it is the end for Adleman?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:30 PM)

I don't think anyone liked more of Kahn's moves than I did, and I still want to see a healthy version of the team he put together, but this seems to be overdue. We don't know much about Flip Saunders the personnel guy, but you can't bring much more credibility in Minnesota. I think Adelman has earned the right to make his own decision about his future, and I don't think hiring Saunders would change that.

Kevin (MN)

A young Garnett could probably give Lebron a run for his money guarding 1-5. Is Pekovic good enough to warrant a Max deal from the Wolves this summer?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:31 PM)

If the bidding gets that expensive, I think the Timberwolves would have to pass. Pekovic's performance to date doesn't justify max money, and he's not really young enough to count on improvement. Plus at that price it would make it very difficult to keep him, Love and Rubio together long-term.

Zane (Nashville)

I think the better question about LeBron's defense is has he ever heard of Rodman. He was a terror who could guard anyone from Magic to Shaq.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:31 PM)

Another nominee.

Woody (Waterville)

Slight quibble with Lebron's claim, does he actually guard 5s? I've never seen him guard Roy Hibbert/Dwight Howard...

Kevin Pelton
  (4:32 PM)

He defended Al Jefferson down the stretch of the Heat's game in Utah, and basically took Jefferson out of the offense. It was incredibly impressive.

Michael (Btown)

Think Paul George can keep this little spurt going? He's started the playoffs playing very well

Kevin Pelton
  (4:33 PM)

Probably somewhere close to this, if not quite at this level. I like the way he's been attacking the basket in this series. It's really showcased his development as as scorer. Of course, facing Devin Harris and Kyle Korver at times hasn't hurt.

Chris (Sandy, UT)

What is the likelihood of the Jazz trading for Eric Bledsoe during the offseason? Could he be the answer at point guard for the future with the Jazz' young core?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:34 PM)

I think that window might have passed. If the Jazz is going to get Bledsoe now, it's probably going to require giving up a quality young piece in return instead of someone like Millsap.

Adam (NY)

Why dis LeBron get 2nd in DPOY voting? The "he can guard 1 through 5" seems to be a myth, he floats too much and Battier usually guards the best scoring wings, Haslem the best bigs.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:35 PM)

The argument for LeBron is that when he's fully engaged defensively, there is no better perimeter defender. His defensive versatility -- and I do believe the 1 through 5 argument, as mentioned previously -- allows him to shut down anyone causing the Heat problems. So if you're going based on best defensive player, it may well be LeBron. If you're going based on most defensive value, he's not close to that accolade, which is why I left him off my two All-Defensive Teams.

zack stl [via mobile]

Do you think the Lakers front office should take more heat? I mean their bench was just so bad.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:37 PM)

Definitely. I'd forgotten until it came up recently that the Lakers technically drafted Patrick Beverley as part of a prearranged deal with the Miami Heat. Mitch Kupchak tried to inject some youth with Ebanks, Morris and Goudelock, but so far it looks like he's 0-for-3 on those. The end of the Lakers' bench does not have nearly as much talent as teams like the Rockets who are constantly grinding spots 12-15, and that's part of why the veterans had to play so many minutes.

terrance (philly)

Speaking of defensive gurus, last offseason the Wizards hired the Spurs's "defensive coordinator" Don Newman. They also brought in Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and got a full season (sorta) of Nene. How much of their defensive improvement was coaching/scheme and how much was just getting better defenders on the floor?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:38 PM)

I think a lot of it was scheme. What stands out looking at their defense is Nene was the only player who really had much of an impact in terms of net defensive plus-minus. The rest of the team was largely interchangeable, which is a testament to coaching in my book.

Zane (Nashville)

This weren't looking too good for the Spurs at the end of the season. But if Russell Westbrook doesn't come back, or comes back in a significantly reduced capacity, and with Ginobili's resurgence, are the Spurs now the favorite to win the West?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:38 PM)

I think so. We can get carried away with two games against a badly limited Lakers team, but where all the injuries once seemed to be setting up OKC's run, now they appear to favor San Antonio most of all.

Tim ((CA))

How good can Stephen Curry become? best shooter ever?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:39 PM)

Glad you asked!http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2013/story/_/page/PerDiem-130426/golden-state-warriors-stephen-curry-greatest-shooter-nba-history

Cliff (London)

Are Colangelo and Casey safe?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:40 PM)

I don't think leadership change above them is a good sign. Already the rumor mill is churning about Phil Jackson, and if the Raptors turn over their GM spot, I think whoever comes in will want to hire their own coach.

Gabe (Brooklyn)

Yeah, but could Lebron have guarded Ewing/Robinson/Olajuwon/Shaq/Smits/Mourning etc? It's a lot easier to say you can guard 5s when there are only a few centers in the league today who even need to be guarded

Kevin Pelton
  (4:42 PM)

I suppose we have to agree on a definition of "guard." Could he shut elite centers down? Of course not. But neither can anyone else.

RL (DC)

Mark Gasol is not the best defender on his team. Tony Allen?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:43 PM)

Tony Allen is the best relative to position, but given A.) the dramatic difference in importance between interior defenders and perimeter defenders and B.) how many more minutes Gasol plays, Gasol gets the edge. That's why he was my pick for Defensive Player of the Year.

George (Dallas)

I think Houston's Bigs lineup would look a whole lot better with Paul Gasol at the four than it did with Greg Smith.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:44 PM)

Offensively, without question, but it creates some of the same problems defensively -- just as we've seen all season in L.A.

Tim (Vegas)

Do you believe in the notion of refs "letting players play" in the playoffs?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:46 PM)

To an extent. There's still a rulebook that has to be followed, but I do prefer that close calls end up going as non-whistles.

zack stl [via mobile]

Do you have a vote for any of the awards or all NBA teams?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:46 PM)

I do not have a vote.

RL (DC)

Will KD force things on offense, which is not a bad thing for the most efficient scorer in the league

Kevin Pelton
  (4:47 PM)

That's going to be interesting to see. Durant's comments on efficiency in Sports Illustrated -- related to his personal analytics guru -- were fascinating, but his approach will have to change somewhat. I think that's for the better, but I'm not sure.

James (Cooksville)

Will Hollins actually loose his job if the Grizz are elimiated by LA?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:48 PM)

I think it's more that both sides might decide to go in a different direction than him actually losing his job, per se. He's a free agent at season's end.

RL (DC)

Curry may be the greatest Scorer in history due to the fact he can create off the dribble. but for shooter Im going with Bird. Larry legend

Kevin Pelton
  (4:50 PM)

Bird represents the difficulty in comparing shooters from different eras. I attempt to adjust for that, but there's only so much you can do. As I noted in today's column, Bird made as many career 3-pointers as Chris Duhon has. Totally different game now.

Zack (LA)

Best Defender in NBA history, Russell or Rodman?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:52 PM)

Personally, I don't think Rodman is even in the discussion given how his game changed in the '90s to a focus on rebounding that was at times to his team's detriment. Given the limited statistics that we have from his era, I think Russell is a clear choice.

Charles (San Jose)

Could LeBron have guarded those guys well enough that they didn't feel the need to bring in an actual big to do the job? That's the more important question.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:52 PM)

Part of the issue is you wouldn't want to wear LeBron out defending the post, but if you had one defensive possession with this year's Heat, wouldn't you want LeBron on the best player regardless of position?

zack stl [via mobile]

Do players ever come to you for advice?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:53 PM)

Only on pocket squares.

Bob (Seattle)

Does three point %s drop as players age? Or does it randomly fluctuate?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:54 PM)

Yes, although it tends to peak later than some other stats. Players tend to shoot more 3s as they age.

Ethan (Utah)

Obviously a lot depends on who they hire as GM/Coach, but how long do think it will take for the Suns to have a decent playoff team again?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:55 PM)

Probably at least three years. Barring a game-changing talent in the 2014 draft, the Suns are looking at a slow rebuild, and everyone in Phoenix needs to settle in and be patient.

Ned (NY)

Thoughts on Kenyon Martin? I find his play astonishing.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:56 PM)

Me too. I thought he was largely finished last year with the Clippers, and certainly couldn't be effective as a center. I am happy to eat crow on this one.

Tricky Dick (Little Rock, AR)

Although it pained me as a Celtics fan, I watched Ray Ray break Reggie Millers playoff 3 pt record last night. He almost looked like he could come of the bench somewhere for a couple more years. Considering Stephen Curry's own 3pt accomplishment this year in only his 3rd season, if he can fight off ankle issues do you think he will one day supplant Allen at the top of the record books?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:57 PM)

Yes, he's enough ahead of the pace right now (as I discuss in today's Per Diem) that I think health is the only thing that could keep Steph from eventually being the all-time record holder.

Peter (Rockland)

I think LeBronn would get exhausted if you put him on the other teams point guard for the whole game. He can't keep guys like Ty Lawson and Russell Westbrook in front of him consistently.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:58 PM)

The thing you have to remember is nobody can keep players like that in front of them consistently. The good defensive PGs are still able to contest shots anyway, or at least make them work, and LeBron qualifies there.

Robbie (Memphis)

Seeing how Memphis has played the past two games, do you think they will pull out a Win in Game 4?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:59 PM)

I think we're looking at another game like Game 2 that could be decided in the closing seconds.

ben (los angeles)

What happened to Devin Ebanks? wouldn't he be helpful in this series?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:59 PM)

That answer is probably complex, but a large part of it is that Earl Clark provides more or less the same things, and has been better at them than Ebanks. There's only so many non-shooters you can play on the wing.

Kevin Pelton
  (5:00 PM)

Alright, that's about all the time I have today. Thanks for joining me and see you next Friday back at the usual time.