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May 20, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wallace

Michael Wallace
  (2:02 PM)

Thanks for joining me for another NBA chat on ESPN.com. I just got done with interviews at the Miami Heat's practice as they prepare for the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana. Ready to get started on these questions and takes, so let's get right to them.

Ed (Queens Village)

Is Knicks window to win a championship closed? One or two words to summarize Carmelo Anthony career?

Michael Wallace
  (2:04 PM)

I wouldn't say it's closed. But it is closing at a rapid pace, especially if they don't do anything to address a roster that's old, slow and lacks versatility. Carmelo needs help. Is he doing all he's capable of doing to help his teammates get better? I don't believe so. He has to diversify his game, and the Knicks front office have to get some better complementary pieces around him. In a hurry.

Allan (Miami)

How much is a long layoff really responsible for sluggish play, and how much would you attribute to better planning/surprises by the other team? Chicago just out-executed Miami in their Game 1 win, can the pacers do the same?

Michael Wallace
  (2:06 PM)

I think rust is a factor after a long layoff. These are world-class athletes we're talking about. And sometimes just a day or two off can throw off their rhythm and timing. In the Heat's case, credit the Bulls for coming in and taking it right to Miami in that Game 1 victory. But the purpose of a series is for the best team to ultimately win the war of attrition. And yes, the Pacers are capable of winning in Miami regardless of the length of layoff.

Bill (Kharkov Ukraine)

I'm not sure why so much is made of Lebron's reaction to Vogel's comments. I think in his heart-of-hearts even Lebron knows it wasn't meant as a slight. But this is James pulling an MJ and inventing slights to motivate himself. Agree?

Michael Wallace
  (2:09 PM)

Yes, I agree to an extent. LeBron knew exactly where he wanted to go with that question regardless of how it was presented to him. There's a lot of time before Game 1 on Wednesday, and in LeBron's mind, it's never too soon to engage an opponent. But this was also a case of how even the slightest statement can be taken out of context if you're not careful. At the end of the day, it's over and done with. But these teams still don't like each other.

Roy (SF)

Are NBA teams allowed to backload contracts? As a Warrior fan, much has been discussed about possibly losing Jack and Landry as free agents this year. However, we have Biedrins and Jefferson coming off the books next year for BIG money. Is it possible to keep the "cap" hit low this year but give them more money the following years? Is this even a good idea considering Barnes and Thompson's impending free agency? Help Michael! How can we keep this amazingly exciting core together? Thanks!

Michael Wallace
  (2:11 PM)

Yes, there are very creative ways annual money can be dispersed over the life of a contract, as long as it falls within the structure of the collective bargaining agreement. One popular case was how Jeremy Lin's contract was structured that made it unattractive for the Knicks to match. There is a salary structure, but as long as the amounts are correct over the successive life of the contract, the annual salaries can be moved around in cases.

jeff (miami)

if you were to give me a percent on how healthy d-wade is what would it be?

Michael Wallace
  (2:15 PM)

No way to truly know that. Only Wade has the real answer. But just from observing him over the course of the past few months, I'd say he's about 70 percent. There are nights and moments when he's explosive and has it all there. But then there are other nights when there's no spring in his step. He's still trying to find that middle ground.

Chris (FL)

What do you see happening with the Jazz in the offseason? What do you think they need (personnel, coaching, etc) vs. what they will actually do? I'm cautiously optimistic about Dennis Lindsey...

Michael Wallace
  (2:19 PM)

First, Utah needs to fully commit to either rebuilding right now or trying to contend in the West. These past few seasons, they've sort of been stuck in the middle. Good enough to flirt with the playoffs yet not actually make it, and not bad enough to fall deep enough into the lottery to get a top-three pick. Making a significant splash in free agency will be tough for the Jazz, so the best bet is to rebuild, get young, spend wisely and be patient.

Omarvls (N.Hollywood, CA)

Micheal I see this being the Heat's starting Lineup for the next 3 years and a possible mini Dynasty at handC. Oden (Healthy) PF Bosh SF James SG Wade PG Cole

Michael Wallace
  (2:20 PM)

You're take is disqualified strictly on the grounds of putting 'healthy' and 'Greg Oden' in the same sentence.

Zod (DC)

Hey Mike, do you feel that media baiting (reporter taking a full quote out of context, truncating it and changing the words to elicit a reaction from others) is wrong? Or could it be considered part of the job, the necessity of "selling papers"?

Michael Wallace
  (2:24 PM)

If it's done intentionally, it's wrong. If it's done as a result of being lazy and not doing the research to get the quote right, then it's worse than wrong. If it's just an oversight or an honest slip, then it happens to all of us in the business. Ultimately, reporters are supposed to be objective and honest. Or at least accurate and honest. Sometimes, I realize it's not the easiest job in the world.

Nick (USA)

Any chance the Rockets sign another PG to compete with Lin for the starting job because Lin still struggles to hold onto the ball from time to time?

Michael Wallace
  (2:25 PM)

How about re-signing Patrick Beverley? The guy was an absolute bulldog down the stretch. But I do believe there is a Lin problem in Houston that must be addressed one way or another. He's either not getting the kind of opportunity he imagined in Houston, or he's simply an ill fit with what they're trying to do down there with that roster.

Devin Brooks (Detroit)

Mike, Which GM or Team say NO to this trade: R.Rondo and their first round pick 2013 for Monroe and Stuckey. Boston free up some cap space and Detroit gets them a starting PG for the next 5 years to go with Drummond and maybe Victor O. out the draft.. tell me you think this will work for both GM and the team..?

Michael Wallace
  (2:29 PM)

That hypothetical trade is on the verge of making my head explode. I can't exactly get my mind around this one for either team. I'm not sure if Stuckey answers the point guard issue in Boston. They already have a bunch of guys that are tweener guards. Come back and try again with another potential Rondo deal and we'll see how it works out.

Joey (NC)

In the regular season, the Heat's best lineup featured Allen, Wade, James, Bosh, and Battier. Any chance we see that lineup this series? They have yet to assemble so far this postseason.

Michael Wallace
  (2:31 PM)

It is one card Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is keeping close to his vest. But it's also a tweak the Pacers insist they're prepared for this season. The Battier/Bosh combo would seem to be a nightmare matchup for Roy Hibbert and David West. But Indiana could also just as easily exploit that size advantage and make the Heat pay defensively as well. That's the ultimate chess match in this series.

Jeff (NYC)

If the Rockets can pull off a sign-and-trade for Dwight, presumably using Asik and their collection of young PFs as a base, would they have enough room to maybe sign Millsap as a compliment?

Michael Wallace
  (2:33 PM)

It's possible. There's a lot of tweaking that can be done to create enough room to make that type of deal work. Or, Dwight can simply just walk away clear and free as a free agent and allow Houston to keep some of those assets the way Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks failed to do in that trade with Denver.

Martin (NY)

Would the Knicks be better off with another coach besides Mike Woodson?

Michael Wallace
  (2:34 PM)

I don't think Woodson is the problem. I think the roster and front office are the problem. Are there better coaches out there? Perhaps so. But I'm not sure if anyone else could have gotten more out of the Knicks, all things considered, than Woodson did.

Nick (USA)

Nerlens Noel didn't live up to expectations at Kentucky and he said he would break Anthony Davis single season block record and didn't come close to it I was not impressed with his play very much in college so why is he projected to be the #1 pick when it seems to me he has bust written all over him cause he is not prepared to play with top NBA talent yet he will no longer just be able to use his size to overpower defenders on offense and other big men of the NBA will be just as strong if not stronger than him and will be able to score on him. I think he should of spent another season at Kentucky and learn from Coach K. and get him ready to be a star NBA player like he has the potential to be.

Michael Wallace
  (2:38 PM)

Not to mention the knee injury as well. I'm not buying Noel just yet. I have to see much more. He has the raw tools. But he reminds me too much of a cross between a Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas. And look at how those two worked out in the NBA. I'm not counting Noel out. I'm just saying I need to see a lot more than what I've seen so far in just a very small sample size in college.

Austin (Oklahoma City) [via mobile]

Will Durant ever win an MVP while Lebron is still in the league?

Michael Wallace
  (2:43 PM)

Not if LeBron keeps improving right along the same rate Durant does as well. I do think there's another level Durant can take his game. He's going to start to hear some of the criticism come his way the way it once did with LeBron and the way it has with Carmelo. But if Durant swings his game either into the post or out to more point guard/point forward, he can start to close some of the gap on LeBron. KD has the length and explosiveness to play anywhere on the court. He just lacks the strength and absolute focus to do so on a nightly basis.

Chris (DC)

With talk of Dwight Howard entertaining the Rockets as a possibility of this offseason, are the Lakers in serious trouble? I could see a sign-and-trade built on Dwight to the Rockets, Omer Asik + several young players and picks to the Hawks, and either Josh Smith/Al Horford considerations being of interest to all three teams.

Michael Wallace
  (2:44 PM)

I spent parts of two seasons essentially on the Dwight watch when he was in Orlando. I'm done with that silliness. There's no way to tell what Dwight will end up doing, and how many times he might change his mind along the way to making that decision. The Lakers knew what they were getting into. If they get burned in the process, so be it. They'll recover in time. But it's a sticky situation, for sure.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Do you think that the Miami Heat will beat the Indiana Pacers to Advance to the NBA Finals?

Michael Wallace
  (2:46 PM)

I see this being a much more competitive series than some think. I have the Heat in six, still. But I wouldn't be surprised to see it go seven. In fact, I'd be more stunned if it goes five than seven.

Rick (Mn)

Do you think the NBA will see a couple teams battle for the most losses ever next season in an attempt to get Andrew Wiggins?

Michael Wallace
  (2:50 PM)

This Wiggins kid better be the absolute truth. I keep hearing LeBron and Carmelo when it comes to the level of hype and expectation for him. But those are high standards to meet - even with a year of college as a buffer. If he turns out to be a special pro, then great. But let's not forget that there were also guys out there who never lived up to the preps super hype. Remember Felipe Lopez?

Gary (New York, NY)

If there were a Heat-Spurs Final, who would win and in how many games?

Michael Wallace
  (2:55 PM)

Let's see them both advance and then come back to me on that question. I've long been on the record as saying the Spurs, if healthy, were the one team in the league that has all the tools it would take to disrupt the Heat. They're both one step away from settling that scenario.

Gary (New York, NY)

Who has the better bigs: Spurs or Grizzlies?

Michael Wallace
  (2:55 PM)

Grizzlies have the better bigs. Spurs have the better wings.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Also tanking is pointless as the worst team has what, a 25% chance of getting the first pick?

Michael Wallace
  (2:57 PM)

And it's been years since the team with the worst record landed the No. 1 pick. It hasn't happened enough to warrant all the proposed tanking.

CK (Arlington)

Who's the 3rd piece the Wizards can get to make some real noise? Do they find him in the draft or a FA? EG has been horrible evaluating talent (Wall and Beal were no brainers)...what do we do? Thanks for the great chat!

Michael Wallace
  (2:59 PM)

They need athleticism on the front line. A cheaper version of Josh Smith would fit well in that lineup at power forward from a style standpoint alongside Wall and Beal. Not sure that option is feasible for the Wizards, though.

Flavio (Brazil)

If the pacers loose D.West do you see them playing Granger and George together? Also...How much money will west looking for?

Michael Wallace
  (3:01 PM)

This is the series where West's true free agent value will be determined. He's as solid double-double guy, although I don't think he ever delivered on his full potential with the Pacers. A great series against the Heat, win or lose, will go a long way to determine where he slots on the free agency market this summer.

Michael Wallace
  (3:02 PM)

That's my time for this week, folks. Thanks for following us on the chat. These conference finals will be intriguing. And I'll be right back here next week. Until then, take care and peace. MW