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November 8, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Kevin Pelton

Kevin Pelton
  (1:04 PM)

Hey everybody, thanks for joining me for today's chat. As the headline on the ESPN NBA page, plenty of panic already around the league, which means we must be about five games into the season and overreacting. I'm here to answer your fears with "small sample size."

tIM (VANCOUVER)

How is Knick gonna survive without Chandler. they r a total mess.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:06 PM)

Injuries are the most legitimate reason for panic this time of year, and Chandler is obviously the biggest one so far. The Knicks were able to survive his absence during the regular season last year, but this group doesn't look built nearly as well, as I addressed here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9936128/how-new-york-knicks-replace-tyson-chandler

Kevin Pelton
  (1:07 PM)

But if this means the end of the Anthony-Bargs-Chandler frontcourt, then it might not be such a bad thing.

Andy (Denver)

Is there any hope for the Nuggets this season. I hated the offseason moves of letting Masai Ujire walk, then firing Karl. I've nothing against Shaw - maybe he'll be a good coach in time but does he have time. From 57 wins to potential lottery candidate? Can't be great for job security. Your thoughts?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:08 PM)

Weird situation, obviously. George Karl was supposedly let go because he wasn't playing the Nuggets' young bigs enough ... and now JaVale is playing less than last season despite a starting spot and Kenneth Faried has been in and out of the starting five. So who knows what Josh Kroenke is thinking right now.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:09 PM)

The hope is enough of the pieces are still on hand to recreate much of the offensive success the Nuggets had the last few seasons, but there's no sign Brian Shaw is about to use them in a similar way.

Jim (Wyoming, Michigan)

Thanks for the chat Kevin. We keep hearing about Mirotic, the best Euro prospect there is from all the talk, whose rights are owned by the Bulls and are mentioned in every trade rumor. What's his contract situation over there? Any word on when he's coming over?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:11 PM)

The key with Mirotic is starting next summer he's no longer tied to his rookie contract, which would allow the Bulls to pay him more (and help more with his buyout). So I would expect him stateside next season. This explains more: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/13165/bulls-likely-to-wait-till-2014-for-mirotic

Hoss (Austin)

Will Danny Ainge be able to unload any of: Bass, Humphries, Crawford, Wallace, Bogans, Lee, during this year as injury attrition hits various contenders? (Shouldn't he be on the phone to the Knicks right now, talking Bass, Humphries?)

Kevin Pelton
  (1:12 PM)

Perhaps Lee, but frankly there are better players available than nearly all of those guys if contenders do decide to make a panic trade. The Sixers' trade candidates, for example, are much more coveted.

Ben (London )

As Jalen Rose said, when the person who hires you is fired then expect to be fired at some point soon. Are Coach Woodson's days numbered? Who would be an A. likely and B. best replacement. Also, why does Nate MacMillan not have a head coaching gig these days?????

Kevin Pelton
  (1:13 PM)

If the Knicks continue to play like this, he's an easy scapegoat. Really, Woodson should have embraced the SCHOENE projection as an opportunity to argue he was entrusted with below-.500 talent!

Kevin Pelton
  (1:14 PM)

If that came to pass, I would expect Darrell Walker to get promoted on an interim basis. Outside hires midseason are rare, and the talented guys available (George Karl and Lionel Hollins) don't really seem like they'd mix well with Jim Dolan (understatement alert).

Ramiro (Salinas, Ca)

Golden State has a top 10 player at their position in the starting line up. Steph, Klay, and Iggy arguably top 5, Can any other team say the same thing?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:15 PM)

Great start, but let's give Klay Thompson more than 5 games before we start walking him into the top 5 at his position.

Robbie Simons (Draper, UT)

Do the first few games of the Utah Jazz' season show that the various Vegas odds were perhaps pretty accurate?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:17 PM)

Well, they usually are, but let's note that this Jazz lineup with Jefferson and Tinsley playing heavy minutes is much worse than the one I was projecting including Trey Burke, Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams.

Eric C (Atlanta, GA)

Even with Miami's middling start... if they had to play another team to best of 7 games tomorrow what 3 teams are most likely to beat them? I don't think the Pacers could do it

Kevin Pelton
  (1:18 PM)

That's what Tom Haberstroh touches on today: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9946076/nba-indiana-pacers-better-miami-heat

Kevin Pelton
  (1:18 PM)

With a better bench, it's entirely possible that Indiana has closed much of the gap. And if the Pacers are able to claim home-court advantage, the East gets verrry interesting.

Olu (DC)

I'm surprised there hasn't been much talk about MKG's start considering he was the no 2 pick last year. I haven't watched the Bobcats this year, but it looks like he must be taking better shots and attacking the rim. His FTA per game have almost doubled. I know it's only 5 games

Kevin Pelton
  (1:20 PM)

As someone who was pretty down on MKG after seeing him in Vegas this summer, I've been pleasantly surprised. The form on his jumper is still broken, but he's showing the ability to contribute without an outside shot in a way he didn't as a rookie. Caveat: He got off to a strong star last year before fading.

Matt (KONA)

Hi Kevin - replacement/starter/all-star/mvp for ... desserts.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:21 PM)

Replacement level ... chocolate chip cookies? Ice cream? Apple pie? After that, it gets pretty subjective, but I'd name cheesecake a starter and make any sort of chocolate creme pie MVP.

Bob (Seattle)

Obviously 5 games in is too early to start panicking, but at what point should fans of teams with legitimate title aspirations (e.g. Brooklyn, Chicago) become worried? 25 games?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:24 PM)

Somewhere around Christmas sounds about right. If the Bulls' offense is still sputtering and their defense not what it used to be after a couple of months for Rose to shake off the rust, then I'd be worried about picking them to win the East.

Lon (SLC)

It is't accurate to say the Jazz are tanking games, right? They simply don't have the firepower now, but they are putting their best product on the floor, right?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:24 PM)

What Tyrone Corbin thinks their best product is, and what the rest of the world thinks, are two very different things.

Jeff (Jax)

Do u think Mcw can become a top 5 pg in 2-3yrs?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:26 PM)

That list right now is something like Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and I haven't even mentioned Damian Lillard, Chris Paul or Ricky Rubio, so suffice it to say that's extremely optimistic.

MKE (Wi)

My guy doesn't agree with Klay as a top 5 SG, but I'm struggling to think of 5 guys definitively above him. Wade, Harden, Kobe* , Butler? Ellis? Is Batum a 2 guard? Help me out.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:28 PM)

I think the real point here is that such rankings are A.) an extremely fine distinction and B.) arbitrary. After the top three, there just isn't that much separation.

The Mike (Finland)

Here we go with another night of watching the Bulls at 3 am. I hope the NBA is serious about changing some game times to an earlier time for the foreign fans. At least some Friday, Saturday, Sunday games would be nice.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:29 PM)

With all due respect to our international readers, I think the priority has to be doing right by the fans in the building. If there's a way to combine that with more international-friendly start times, then great, but pretty hard to move things up on a Friday night in any city with any kind of commute.

Jay (Kalamazoo)

What would it take for Dwight Howard to start shooting free throws underhand (aka granny) style? Is there any doubt he could become a consistent 60% shooter with that approach if he could handle the inevitable abuse that would come with it?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:32 PM)

I don't think it's certain or even likely that Howard -- or any player -- would be better with a style they've never practiced before as compared to something they've worked on their entire career. Now if you're Andris Biedrins and you're shooting around 20%, then it's worth the try. Maybe Andre Drummond, too. But strictly during the offseason when no damage can be done.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:33 PM)

It's also worth noting that, as Eric Freeman dug up last night, the Lakers' locker room last year showed Howard making 82% of his free throws during practice: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/dwight-howard-actually-makes-80-percent-free-throws-002057899--nba.html

Kevin Pelton
  (1:33 PM)

So is the issue really form, or is it primarily mental?

Jeff (Houston)

Kevin, did you just rank John Wall ahead of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Tony Parker?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:34 PM)

In three years? Paul is a bit of a stretch, but my point is if we're optimistically projecting out Michael Carter-Holy Grail, we have to do the same for other young guys who have demonstrated even more potential.

teddy (sf)

I'm still trying to get a feel for the 2014 draft class..I know Anthony Bennett wouldn't be #1 if he came out in this class but would Anthony Davis be number 1 if he was apart of the 2014 class? Personally I think Julius Randle and Jabari Parker will have a better career than Wiggins..He reminds me more of Gerald Green than Lebron..Is that too harsh

Kevin Pelton
  (1:35 PM)

I'll put it this way ... Wiggins, or anyone else, would have to exceed expectations as a freshman to be better than Anthony Davis was during his year at Kentucky.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:35 PM)

Gerald Green is much too harsh, by the way. Wiggins has major defensive potential that Green has never really demonstrated, and far more feel for the game.

Ben (Vegas)

When you referenced the gap between what Corbin thinks and what the world thinks is the best product for the Jazz to put on the floor, was that specifically aimed at Jefferson's MPG avg?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:36 PM)

Yes. He doesn't really have much alternative at PG.

Elam (Phoenix)

Are you surprised by Phoenix run 3-2? only Lost to Spurs and OKC best teams in the west.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:38 PM)

Seeing as SCHOENE pegged them for 17 wins the whole season, you bet! Eric Bledsoe has surpassed even my high expectations so far, and they're getting contributions from any number of unexpected players, most notably Plumlee. I'm not sure what that means the rest of the way, but they can't exactly tear down much further like Philadelphia can, so the expectations shift more in their case.

Joshua Taylor (Corvallis)

If the Jazz somehow end up with the first pick, how do you see Wiggins and Gordon Hayward coexisting? Or would being lucky enough to get the first pick (and presumably Wiggins, since Randle wouldn't fit in with Gobert, Favors, and Kanter) make Gordon Hayward expendable?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:39 PM)

I believe the expression is "cross that bridge when you come to it." (But I don't see Hayward demanding the ball so much that he couldn't coexist with Wiggins in that scenario.)

Ryan (IL)

Re: Howard. Isn't there something more to consider there with the free throws? If you stand there and shoot 100 in a row, you're going to develop a feel and be able to make adjustments.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:41 PM)

Sure. There's also not the same fatigue element. But my point is what's to stop the same thing from being true with underhanded free throws? I just don't see them as a magic bullet.

Eric (Indianapolis)

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being most likely, what would you say the odds are that Turner, Hawes, and Young get traded this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:42 PM)

I would put both Turner and Hawes at 10. Young maybe a 6 or a 7?

Joe (Atlanta)

How was Ray Allen able to do so much dribble-driving against the Clippers last night? I haven't seen him do that in years.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:42 PM)

If someone has the answer, please forward it to Erik Spoelstra immediately.

Brian (NJ)

Yea, this idea that because Rick Barry was really good at underhanded free throws that it is therefore the best way to shoot them is flawed logic at best.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:43 PM)

Barry could have shot free throws blindfolded and still been really good. The argument is more than that, as studies have shown it to be a more forgiving angle. But I don't think you can assume that humans will be able to optimize the angle, especially at first.

Frank (DC)

If the Knicks don't make the playoffs Orlando gets their pick correct?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:44 PM)

The Knicks' pick goes to Denver no matter what. Orlando gets the worse of the Knicks' and Nuggets' picks, which at this point could realistically be a lottery selection.

Brian (NJ)

I think Hawes would fit in well as the LAC's third big man. Can the Clips put together a package for him that makes sense for both teams?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:44 PM)

Would require a third team to take on Jamal Crawford's contract and send an expiring deal in Philadelphia's direction.

Sean (Newcastle UK)

I'm worried for Otto Porter. He's not really gonna be Wesley Johnson 2.0 right....right?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:45 PM)

Let's see him play an NBA game first!

Kevin Pelton
  (1:46 PM)

Worth noting: several rookies (McLemore, Carter-Williams notably) have been much better than they were in summer league. So isn't that a reason to be a little less worried about Porter's summer league? Seems like a classic case of "What you see is all there is" to me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

Paul (SLC)

Dear Santa:Please make Tyrone Corbin go away. P.S.- Can you make this happen before Christmas?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:47 PM)

While, again, I don't think there's anything intentional, is Ty Corbin playing the wrong guys this season really the worst thing for the Jazz's future?

Jay (Kalamazoo)

I hope the Pistons put in a call to Rick Barry this Summer because Drummond is just goofy enough to consider it.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:48 PM)

Alas no: https://twitter.com/DRE_DRUMMOND_/status/368833109904482304

Jabroni (St Louis)

Thunder fans are all on board the Steven Adams bandwagon. Are you?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:49 PM)

I don't know if it would say all aboard, but I've been an Adams fan for awhile and picked him for Oklahoma City in our Insider mock draft, so I can't say I'm stunned by the fact that he's already in the rotation.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:49 PM)

Or that he's already baiting opponents into throwing elbows, for that matter.

Kevin S. (Oakhurst, NJ)

Re: Jamal Crawford, his contract is only guaranteed for $1.5 million each of the next two seasons. Given that he should have some trade value around the league, would it really be that outrageous for the Sixers to take him back as part of a Hawes package?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:50 PM)

I think they'd rather not hassle with Crawford at all, given that he distracts from their rebuilding/tanking project this season and it's not like they're moving any future salary in the process.

Bill (WI)

The Bucks always seem to have a lot of nice pieces on their team but they never really amount to much as a whole. Do you think this year can be any different?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:51 PM)

I would be really, really surprised. (I think I answered an "any chance"-type question with no.)

Brian (NJ)

Any chance rule! Any chance the Sixers are playing at a super fast pace this year because it inflates numbers and makes some of their trade bait pieces seem better than they really are (at least to less sophisticated GM's)?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:51 PM)

Interesting theory. That's pretty ingenious, actually.

Daniel (CA) [via mobile]

Could the third team in the Crawford situation be the Pacers? Granger would it and not cost Philly as much since they are under the floor

Kevin Pelton
  (1:52 PM)

Hmm. Would require the Pacers to part with another future first-round pick, in all likelihood, but I'm listening to that phone call.

Kenney (DC)

How much sense does George Karl make for the Wizards, if Whitman doesn't pan out?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:54 PM)

As much as I would have to lose him as an ESPN colleague (sort of), I would love to see George Karl coach John Wall. It's the rare scenario where I do think hiring an outsider midseason makes sense, and Karl has done this before, turning around the Nuggets in 2004-05 and the Sonics in 1991-92.

Vinnie (ATL)

Horford and Milsap look like they can't play together. Both are undersized at their positions. Will this work?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:56 PM)

The Hawks are an elite offensive team with those two guys on the floor together, and outscoring opponents by 4.3 points per 100 possessions per NBA.com/Stats, so I can't say I get that pessimism.

brian (de)

Will Vucevic be on the all star team this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:57 PM)

No.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:57 PM)

More specifically, still a long pecking order at center in the East with Hibbert, Noah, Lopez, Horford, even if you throw out Chandler due to his injury.

Mark (Halifax)

Is it an overreaction to think that the Raptors should fire Casey after the ineptitude shown during the Bobcats game?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:58 PM)

I didn't watch the end of the game so I can't really comment, but let's be clear that responding like that to any one game is an overreaction. Surprising amount of nitpicking late-game situations in the chat today.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:59 PM)

I find it really interesting that the Spurs succeeded with Pop doing the same thing as last year's Finals and going small with Duncan on the bench. When it works, you're a genius, and when it fails you're an idiot. That's not a very good way to evaluate decisions.

Sean (Newcastle UK)

Other rookies have been worse though (Olynyk, Zeller). My worry was more that as a jack of all trades nice guy on a fringe playoff team with an under pressure coach. His situation mirrors WJs. Throw in the lack of reps with the team and some unflattering comments from Randy, i'm worried

Kevin Pelton
  (2:00 PM)

Gotcha. He's definitely way behind for this season, and with two veteran guys at his position it may be tough to get minutes. But ultimately I think talent shines through and Johnson's issues have been lack of talent as much or more than situation.

Jason (Toronto)

How many wins does an elite coach add to a team with a replacement level coach?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:01 PM)

There's not really a good answer to this statistically, but my considered opinion is maybe five games at most, which is fairly consistent with coaches' salaries as compared to players.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:02 PM)

Alright, everybody, we're going to take another break for TrueHoop TV Live. Watch here: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/63929/truehoop-tv-live-2-et

Kevin Pelton
  (2:41 PM)

And we're back! Let me know if you want me to answer any of the questions the group addressed on TrueHoop TV.

mike b (Houston)

Jeff Green or Channing Frye(w/ another small piece) good fits for Houston for Asik? Not over reacting to the 2 terrible losses against the LA teams, just didn't think those 2 would be able to play together from the beginning.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:42 PM)

I don't think that's overreacting, but I also don't expect to see the Rockets make a small move. Is Frye, for example, that much better than Terrence Jones? So I think it's go big (Anderson/Ilyasova/Young) or go home.

C (OK)

Any chances Perk gets traded off for an expiring contract? who would you like to see the Thunder pick up?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:43 PM)

How many draft picks are you throwing in?

Charles (San Jose)

Does TrueHoop TV Live using Spreecast help feed Spree's kids?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:43 PM)

I can honestly say it helps as much as the NBA has since that quote.

Jeff (NOLA)

Kevin Pelton Trivia- Wikipedia says you go by "Al" - true?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:44 PM)

It is true that you can call me Al.

Jeff (NY)

What FA center should be taking Chris Smith's roster spot? Surely there's somebody out there with more to offer than Bargs or Cole Aldrich.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:45 PM)

Surely there's someone that can offer more than *Chris Smith*, but we're looking at Chris Johnson, the return of Kurt Thomas if he's somehow healthy. Aldrich was actually near the top of my list this summer, so it's going to be hard to do much better than him if any.

Cody (St. Louis)

Any thoughts on Anthony Bennett's struggles so far? It's...uh.. no big deal, right?......right?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:46 PM)

I'm not that worried about it. It's not like Bennett's ability to shoot and score is much in question. Looks like it's going to be a slow adjustment to the NBA 3-point line, but otherwise this mostly seems to be about his long layoff.

marques (California)

Jalen Rose had an interesting piece on the business of reclassification, do scouts evaluate prospects who reclassify any different than a normal prospect?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:47 PM)

I can't speak for scouts, but it does seem to potentially make their job more difficult because guys who seem physically developed may just be taking advantage of their age. Shabazz Muhammad may have been a case of that, in a slightly different situation. Definitely an interesting story to watch.

vk (md)

Is Wittman a bad coach? I don't feel comfortable judging him since he's saddled with a legendarily terrible GM.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:49 PM)

Before landing in Washington, his track record was as poor as any coach who has gotten multiple chances. But I was impressed with his work at the defensive end last season. So I agree that it's a little tough to separate his issues with the fact that the team's depth takes an enormous hit any time there's an injury to a starter.

Michael W. (Houston, TX)

Thoughts on the Thud and Thunk lineup of Howard-Asik? Let's say you're Daryl Morey. When the right deal presents itself for Asik, does he aim for a (a) pg who can get the ball in the post or (b) an upgrade at PF?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:49 PM)

Definitely PF. In Patrick Beverley I trust. I think you can maybe make more of an argument for a better defensive wing on the off chance Chandler Parsons can hold up at the four for extended stretches.

Zack (Philly)

College hoops kicks off tonight. Are you as excited as I am!?!?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:50 PM)

Probably not. But I am looking forward to watching this year's crop of freshman and getting some stats on them.

Tommy (Chicago)

There has been a lot of chatter in Chi-town about a trade of Deng/Teague for Aaron Afflalo (and filler). Orlando gets an expiring contract and young prospect. Bulls get an improved shooting 2 guard and can move Butler to the 3. Think it makes sense?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:51 PM)

I don't think Teague has much trade value at this point. Probably need a first-round pick in there to get it done.

Reed (SLC)

Why isn't Milsap considered as a possible swap for Asik? Seems like it fits both sides.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:52 PM)

He's not as much of a 3-point shooter as would be ideal next to Dwight Howard. Given the way the Rockets feel about midrange jumpers, they would probably only make that move if they thought he could move his range back a couple of feet on a full-time basis.

C (OK)

that's a good point i say a future 1st round

Kevin Pelton
  (2:53 PM)

I'm probably going to need 2 to take on Perk's contract.

Andrew (Portland, OR)

Any thoughts on the Blazers start so far?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:53 PM)

They are who we thought they were, pretty much. The one surprise to me is how indispensable Robin Lopez already seems. Meyers Leonard's non-development is a major concern.

Jon (Wilmington, NC)

Has Paul George become the 3rd best SF in the NBA?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:54 PM)

I don't think there's any question. He's your early WARP leader.

Nick (NYC)

Your comment on the Celtics' lack of appealing tradable pieces makes me nervous that they are destined for 30 wins and the 12th overall pick. Sound right?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:54 PM)

Even this year, I don't think 30 wins translates into the 12th pick. They're in the bottom five with these guys.

Tim (Gainesville)

Orlando is building a solid foundation for the future with Vucevic, Oladipo and whoever they draft next year. But with Vucevic's defensive shortcomings are they going to need a defensive stopper at PF to ever truly contend?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:55 PM)

I don't know if you need a stopper. You probably need someone better defensively than Tobias Harris.

Bill (Europe)

About Millsap -> Rockets. Isn't he one of the players analytics say should shoot more corner 3's?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:56 PM)

I think they say that about almost every player! But one caution is it's hard to extrapolate the 3P% of players who take very few attempts. The marginal 3P% -- the accuracy of the next extra 3-pointer they'd take -- may be very different than the average 3P%.

Wooz (Columbus)

Outside of Josh Smith's insane amountof 3 pt attempts, I feel like the 3 Big lineup in Detroit is doing well. But the guard play is sketchy, and no one can make an outside shot. Small sample and all, but why not get KCP out there more? he's been doing the 3 and D thing well in his limited minutes.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:58 PM)

Not seeing much reason not to. He's the future at the position, and Chauncey Billups is definitely the past.

Todd (MN)

Is the rise of the corner 3 just because it's a shorter shot?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:59 PM)

Doesn't appear so. For example, players don't shoot much better from a step inside the line at the top of the arc. So it seems to mostly be about defensive rotations and the fact that corner 3s are never shot off the dribble -- they're exclusively catch-and-shoot situations. Here's some interesting research on the topic: http://blog.cacvantage.com/2013/02/How-Easy-Is-the-Corner-Three-Pointer-NBA-Defense.html

Jake (Indiana)

If Danny Granger comes back to the Small Forward position when he comes back from injury, does that make Paul George the best Shooting Guard in the league? Or would you put an injured Kobe and/or James Harden over him?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:00 PM)

At this point he's probably better than any shooting guard, given Harden's defensive woes.

Tim (Gainesville)

Going off of Harris, is he going to end up as one of those guys who are too slow to play the 3 but too small to play the 4 for extended stretches? He can obviously score but I worry about his position going forward.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:01 PM)

Good rule of thumb from Kevin Arnovitz: If you have to ask whether he's a 3 or a 4, he's a 4. But Harris probably fits better next to a defensive anchor. For example, Dwight Howard covered a lot of Rashard Lewis' limitations as a similar tweener.

Eddy (Irvine)

Am I the only one who thinks the Clipper's championship hopes are a pipe dream unless they're able to acquire a big who can defend the post/shoot FT's decently enought to close out a game? Neither Blake of DJ fit that mold in my honest opinion.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:03 PM)

I think pipe dream is a bit strong, but those hopes are certainly contingent on those two guys showing improvement defensively that hasn't been evident the last couple of games.

Hank (SF)

Three players I'd love to trade for Griffin if I'm the Clippers - Love, Aldridge, and The Brow. Good floor spacers, solid rebounders. Aside from Davis, who has a great contract, wouldn't the Blazers and Wolves jump at the chance to add a seat filler with a longer contract?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:04 PM)

I think Portland in particular would. Minnesota's a little more on the fence if only because the Wolves might be good enough this year to keep Love happy. But I think if you're the Clippers, you want to give Griffin every opportunity to improve before moving on because his ceiling is so high.

Zack (Philly)

What is the difference between rebuilding and tanking? Do you think the Suns, Sixers, Magic, etc are rebuilding or "tanking?"

Kevin Pelton
  (3:05 PM)

The Magic are definitely rebuilding. The Sixers are the closest to tanking, since they gave up any opportunity to upgrade their roster (short- or long-term) after the draft this year. Phoenix is much closer to rebuilding than tanking, I'd say. It becomes tanking when guys start sitting out with questionable injuries.

Jim (Akron)

So wait, you have Wall ranked better than Kyrie in three years? Based on what?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:06 PM)

It was the order I thought of them. Everyone remain calm.

Brian (Charlotte)

Any chance of the Bobcats/Hornets getting a free agent like Melo to come to Charlotte in free agency with our young and emerging core for the 1st year of the Hornets?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:07 PM)

No.

Rah Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)

What do you think Minny could do to keep Pekovic happy? It seems with Love and Martin he's not getting touches.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:08 PM)

Ordinarily I'd say you don't need to worry that much about keeping your third-best player you just paid $12 million a year happy, but of course Pek is arguably the most terrifying player in the league, so maybe Rick Adelman should be careful.

Jeff (NYC)

Optimal Knicks lineup - Melo-Felton-Prigioni-Shump-Kenyon?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:09 PM)

Might be Felton-Prigioni-Smith-Melo-Martin post-suspension. But that fifth spot really isn't as important as the other four. Could sub in MWP too.

Jeff (NYC)

Deserving more playing time: Udrih or Hardaway Jr?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:11 PM)

Hardaway's had his moments but he's now shooting 3-of-18 from 3 and the Knicks are -9.2 per 100 with him on the floor. I think he can spend some time watching and learning after Smith returns.

David (NOLA)

Harden's poor D is getting a lot of attention. Is it worse than last year? Or is it just that last year people cared less since they weren't trying to contend?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:12 PM)

I think mostly the latter, since they weren't on national TV that much last year. It's also less excusable now that he has more help around him on offense.

Yunior Delgado (Miami, FL)

Pacers have the 2nd best team in the east. They are a very good team! But, why make conclusions about them being better than Miami? They have way too much to prove yet. Miami won back-to-back and they didnt get any worse this year.. shouldn't even be talking about this

Kevin Pelton
  (3:12 PM)

Given the age of their core players and the loss of Mike Miller, it's entirely possible the Heat got worse this year. It might even be surprising if they don't.

Bunny (Colorado)

Why can't Denver make a deal with so many above average players with reasonable contracts? I feel they would be better served with an Affalo type at the 2 to replace Iggy's defense.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:13 PM)

Oh, the irony ...

Kevin Pelton
  (3:13 PM)

I think there surely is a deal coming for the Nuggets, but what it is I have no idea.

Patrick (Virginia)

Three team trade: Asik -> Hawks, Milsap -> Bucks, Ilyasova -> Rockets, who hangs up first?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:14 PM)

Don't see a lot of incentive for the Bucks to make that trade. Millsap's on a great contract, obviously, but Ilyasova's is perfectly fine and eminently tradeable.

Matt (Indianapolis)

In&Out Burger today?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:14 PM)

For me? Is someone delivering?

Eric C (Atlanta, GA)

Where/when do you think Jameer Nelson gets traded? Oladipo looks like he could take his job in a heartbeat

Kevin Pelton
  (3:16 PM)

I don't think there's much in the way of offers for him right now. Maybe if a starting PG go down.

Chris (Columbus)

Is there user error occurring or can you not set the SportVU Stat filters to just show players from one team? If you can't set the stats to show just players from one team, Pelton can you use your massive pull to make it happen?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:17 PM)

I'm not seeing it either. We'll see if anyone influential is reading the chat.

Eric C (Atlanta, GA)

Everyone is citing history in saying that Miami will have a rough go to reach the Finals for a 4th consecutive year. But lets say they win it all this year. Next year would be even worse right?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:18 PM)

Sure. There's nothing magical about three years vs. four ... it's just the increasing mileage over time.

pj (midlo)

hi Kevin, how different is your data on performance comparing regular season data and playoff data - are there a few players that show remarkable better data in playoffs than regular season - thanks

Kevin Pelton
  (3:19 PM)

There are! A lot of the overachievers are predictable role players on championship teams, notably Robert Horry. The underachievers are a bit more interesting. I'm going to save that list because I might write about it next spring.

Bob (Seattle)

What's going on with the Knicks offense? I haven't seen them play yet this season, but their roster suggests a team that should be better than 21st in offensive efficiency

Kevin Pelton
  (3:19 PM)

http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/2987/

Kevin Pelton
  (3:20 PM)

(OK, it's a little more than just him.)

JB Southpaw (Orlando)

So, how many games until it's no longer a "too small of a sample size"? Orlando is playing well against decent competition, say if they start 20-10 do they look to add instead of subtract??

Kevin Pelton
  (3:22 PM)

Much as everyone would like it, there's not really one point where statistics become reliable. I wrote this last year: http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2442

Kevin Pelton
  (3:23 PM)

With regards to the Magic specifically, that would be so far above expectations, for such a long period of time that we would at that point have to consider them a playoff time. But I still couldn't imagine them changing their long-term focus. Sam Presti once had a great quote about his vision for the Thunder along the lines of wanting their first playoff appearance to be a step and not the destination. And I'm sure Rob Hennigan is thinking the same way.

Jeremy Jarrett (Scottsdale)

Can we all hold off on the Masai Ujiri praise just a bit? His whole rep is built on fleecing Jimmy Dolan twice (once for Melo....there were no other bidders, and once for Bargnani)....not sayin he's a bad gm, lets just wait and see a bit right?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:24 PM)

No credit for taking Kenneth Faried with the 23rd pick?

Seth (SF)

I'm starting to think Hawes is the 6ers' most readily tradeable asset. 2/3 of contenders should want him as their 3rd big. What do you see happening with him?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:25 PM)

I think there's the most interest in him, but tough to find the right combination of expiring contracts and picks coming back the other direction.

Michael (B-Town)

Hey KP. With how well Lance Stephenson has started the season, is it likely that Vogel will bring Granger off the bench when he gets healthy? Looks like the starting 5 chemistry is even better than it was a season ago.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:26 PM)

Yeah, I can't see Vogel messing with the starting lineup at this point. And it's an easier sell to Granger witht he team playing this well.

Brian (Vancouver)

A lot has been said about the Rockets perimeter defence. It looked serviceable against the Blazers though.. You were at this game right? Did they just play good D for one game or are my eyes deceiving me?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:27 PM)

It did! And the Blazers are not exactly an easy team to defend. Obviously a lot of the Rockets issues are simply about effort and focus defensively that was present then but was not last night. That, along with the communication breakdowns, are fixable. A concern, but fixable.

Rick (Toronto)

Jonas is looking good so far, if a bit inconsistent. What's the closest comp you have for centers his age and how much improvement do you expect over the course of the season?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:29 PM)

My brother asked me this last week, and I honestly don't have an answer. There's some Tyson Chandler to his game, but he's a better post scorer and not the defensive anchor that Chandler is. I think we may be best off just letting him be Jonas.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:29 PM)

As far as the rest of the season, I don't know that his improvement will come so much in terms of skills as learning how to manage foul trouble and fatigue to play longer stretches.

TImmy (Raps nation)

How can Jonas V get his 2pt fg% up a little bit? It seems like the could get him rolling to the hoop more as he's quite nimble catching on the move (though has trouble passing out when the D collapses)

Kevin Pelton
  (3:30 PM)

I would agree with that. I think serving as a roll man is his single best skill.

Mark (Portland)

How do you think the suspensions will affect Oregon? Is 9 games early in the season going to hurt them?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:31 PM)

I think it hurts to the extent that some of these early games (obviously the matchup with Georgetown) could loom large in terms of seeding in March. I don't think they will hurt the Ducks in conference play because Dana Altman is used to integrating guys midseason, most notably Devoe Joseph a couple of years ago.

Lyle (Baton Rouge )

So how much longer until Morey deals Asik? How much of a sample size does he need? Who should he look at besides Ryan Anderson?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:32 PM)

I think the thing that's important to remember is it's really hard to make a trade. It takes time to get two teams on the same page. The ratio of discussions between GMs to completed trades approaches infinity. So the timing ... who knows?

Otto (CA)

Do you agree with me that the Knicks would be locking themselves into 5+ years of no better than a 5 seed if they lock up Carmelo long term? They need to rebuild when all these contracts expire next season.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:33 PM)

To me, the ideal is still to have Melo locked up plus the room to add another elite player. Stars like playing together, and Melo is still perceived that way. So I don't know that I would want to let him go.

Adrian (Canada)

Couldn't the Rockets respond to Hack-a-Howard by adjusting their rotation somewhat? They could try two opposite approaches: 1) have Howard take his rest from 5 min to 2 min left mark in the quarter, or 2) put their best defensive/rebounding unit out there. For 2), premise is that your offense is limited by how he hits his free-throws, so the best bet is to maximize your defense. Having Harden/Lin out there then is pointless. Might as well have them rest and have those be your Asik+Howard minutes.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:34 PM)

I like No. 2 in particular. To me, the Hack-a-Howard isn't such a terrible thing on offense. So if you can combine that with really good defense, then you're on to something.

Brian (NJ)

Is there really any point to having a SG ranking? Is there really any difference any more between an SG and a SF. Aren't all of those guys pretty much just "wings?"

Kevin Pelton
  (3:34 PM)

Agreed.

Gary (Sacramento)

Hard to tell if they're tanking, but the Kings have to be on the short list to get one of the potential saviors in the next draft. That being said, why wouldn't they give Jimmer some burn behind McLemore, to see if he really can contribute in their system, rather than playing Marcus Thornton who is a black hole with an attitude to match?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:35 PM)

Well, first they're able to see that in practice, and second I don't know if the system is different enough that they really need to answer that question. He's a useful player with obvious limitations but I don't think his ceiling is as good as Thornton already is.

John (Toronto)

The Raptors are playing at the league's slowest pace... given their personnel, wouldn't it make sense to pick it up a little and try to get some easier shots and ft attempts for their athletic but inefficient wings?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:36 PM)

Might be worth trying a couple different paces. You probably want to slow things down and play in the half-court when Valanciunas is on the floor, and speed things up and go small with a Johnson/Gay frontcourt when he's not.

kib (poco)

I tried to maximize the NBALP free trial by watching as much basketball as I could, but it was frankly exhausting. how do you decide which games to watch, since you presumably can't watch just the "fun" ones?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:37 PM)

I have a spreadsheet to track how often I've seen teams play, and use that to direct me to some under-the-radar games that get sprinkled in among the more entertaining matchups.

Brian (NJ)

I feel like any of the following teams have a legitimate shot at the title this yera: OKC, Spurs, GS, Hou, LAC, Mia, Indy, Chi, and the Nets. Isn't that more than normal?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:38 PM)

Certainly. I think it's the largest pool of legit title contenders since the late '70s.

Anthony (NYC)

How big of an improvement would Kyle Lowry be over Ray Felton - not realistic, more curious.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:38 PM)

A couple of wins, probably.

Morris (Pgh, PA)

I was having this discussion with a co-worker recently. Do players generally shoot FTs better the more shots they get? That is, would additional minutes allow an average player to shoot better from the line? Came up when we were looking at Udrih's season-by-season FT%.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:41 PM)

Can't say I've looked at that but in general players play better when they get enough minutes to get into a rhythm (http://web.archive.org/web/20071122115204/http://ballhype.com/story/the_paul_millsap_doctrine/), so I doubt free throws would be any different.

Mike (Orlando)

Rumor is that Hayward was asking for something close to the max. The Jazz did well to not give it to him, right?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:41 PM)

Yeah, if he was truly looking for something close to the max there's very little upside to that deal for the Jazz and some significant downside.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:42 PM)

If Eric Bledsoe was really looking for around $10M a year, however, the Suns may have cost themselves quite a bit of money by not locking him up. I can easily see a PG-needy team maxing him out.

jim c (Miami)

are we starting to see the beginnings of the dreaded JAMES HARDEN backlash? seems like a ton of the news coming down the pipeline focuses around his terrible defense and lack of leadership...

Kevin Pelton
  (3:42 PM)

Dreaded or inevitable? Or both?

mike b (Houston)

With Philly in "future" mode, is there any way the Rockets could get Young and/or Hawes from them? Would Asik, Motiejunas, T. Jones and a 1st rounder be enough for both? They seem like they would fit the Rockets and I don't envision this Asik/Howard combo working in the long run.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:43 PM)

Hmm. That's intriguing, if nothing else. So many assets Philly might have to do it and figure out what to do with Asik later.

Bill (WI)

Why did the Sixers trade away Vucevic? Even back then, I could see his potential and I'm no expert.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:44 PM)

Well, in theory if you have a healthy Andrew Bynum in the middle Vucevic isn't that valuable. Obviously that gamble did not work out.

Chris (Seattle)

Will talks about Seattle getting the Supersonics back happen again this season?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:46 PM)

I'm sure Adam Silver will address the expansion possibility when he takes over as commissioner, but I don't expect any serious discussion about it until after the Bucks' future is resolved.

Pumpernikiel (Poland)

Apparently Bledsoe wanted a near max too!

Kevin Pelton
  (3:46 PM)

In that case, same situation as Hayward.

Tom (Seattle)

How about the play of Ray Allen so far this year.....he is playing like he is in his late 20's....what gives?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:47 PM)

If anybody was going to age like this, it's Ray given how well he takes care of himself. Of course, you could say the same thing about Steve Nash and that has not gone quite as well. (Understatement.)

Rich (Birmingham, AL)

I don't know Pelton - the Heat still look pretty good to me? Why all the negativity from you?? Do you just use "history" as a crutch to support your hopes?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:51 PM)

Did I say the Heat were doomed somewhere in this chat and forget about it?

gary (boston)

asik and howard dont work together on the floor. and with how bad their perimeter D is, isn't it worth trading asik for anyone who can defend and shoot. and then just play small ball and when you have to just rely on casspi and jones, obviously trading for a stretch 4 would be ideal but anything would be better than asik and howard together.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:53 PM)

I mean obviously a trade is the ideal scenario, as it has been since Dwight Howard signed in Houston, but I don't think I'm ready to say definitively that Asik and Howard *don't* work together. We're still talking about six games here, and that's both a tiny sample and not very much time for that group to build chemistry. One question I regret not getting the chance to ask when the Rockets were in Portland was how much practice time that unit has gotten as compared to the smaller units. That to me would be very telling.

Jeffrey (Madison, WI)

Aren't you one of the "Wade bashers"? Watching him play so far this year, it sure doesn't seem like he is at the end of the road. Thoughts??

Kevin Pelton
  (3:53 PM)

Is there a club or something? Do I need a membership card?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:54 PM)

I mean, look, he's in his 30s and players tend to decline when they reach their 30s. This is a fact of life. It is not a personal vendetta against Dwyane Wade. He looks terrific so far, and that's great, but I want to know how he looks in April with the accumulated mileage of an entire season. That's the relevant question here.

Raymond (Baltimore)

Re: Paul George. Durant would have the tenure and track record obviously. But if PG relatively keeps up this level of play, would there be a realistic conversation for #2 player in the world, considering his defensive advantage?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:57 PM)

George right now has a better per-minute winning percentage than KD did last season, so in the event he totally keeps this up, then maybe. But KD is no James Harden defensively, so I'd be very surprised if George could get on his level.

Tim (Gainesville)

Which team predicted to make the playoffs throws in the towel first and looks towards the upcoming draft?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:58 PM)

Denver seems like the obvious answer.

The Rick (NYC)

Did you say that the Mike Miller loss made the Heat worse? Your kind of grasping at "hate" straws aren't you? I hate the Heat as much as you do but c'mon....give me more hope than that.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:59 PM)

Yes, I am taking the controversial position that losing a player who averaged 21.8 minutes per game in the NBA Finals might hurt the Heat.

Hank (SF)

You think Blake's ceiling is higher than Love's? Love's doing 26/14/4 this season. Bird in the hand, wouldn't you agree? Die hard Clips fan here, but even I would take Love today and tomorrow.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:59 PM)

Me too, personally, but I think that might be a little more difficult for the Clippers to do.

Ryan (Portland)

Is there such a thing as too many assets? Look at a team like Orlando. Vuc, Oladipo, Nicholson, Harkless, Harris, and 2 likely lottery picks in the stacked 2014 draft. How do you make sense of that?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:00 PM)

Never, because some of them aren't going to pan out and the rest are candidates for a consolidation trade.

Gene (Cambridge)

Did the Knicks model the Anthony-Chandler pairing last year on the very successful Dirk-Chandler pairing in Dallas? And what other inside-out frontcourt combinations have there been of recent vintage?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:01 PM)

Anderson-Howard, Lewis-Howard, even West-Hibbert or West-Chandler. It's a highly successful model.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:02 PM)

Oh, I should mention Horry-O'Neal.

Charles (San Jose)

Odom-Gasol was pretty good too.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:02 PM)

Considered that one, though Gasol isn't the same kind of defensive anchor.

The Rick (NYC)

Aren't you making the numbers fit your argument with Miller - those MPG was over the past (3) Finals. I believe last year his MPG was closer to 12 right?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:03 PM)

That's what I'm seeing for him from last season.

Will (Queens)

Speaking of Tobias Harris, would he be a bad fit for the rockets in a 3 team deal

Kevin Pelton
  (4:03 PM)

Not a bad fit. Rockets probably want more of a sure thing.

Bruce (Jersey City, NJ)

Nets fan here who isn't going to bash you or your predictions, as much as you seem to indulge the haters. I was wondering though, why does Golden State get a free pass on trading away two first rounders to sign Iguodala? When the Nets trade three first rounders they're mortgaging their future - when the Warriors do it, well, I haven't heard a single person complain at all about that being a short-sighted move. Not one.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:04 PM)

I think it's mostly because their core is still relatively young. That mitigates a lot of the potential downside the Nets could feel with those future picks.

Eric (Indianapolis)

Obviously, Hibbert's block numbers are unsustainable, but that aside, do you see him being a viable DPOY candidate this year? Also, is his apparent lack of shooting touch around the rim pretty much a given with him at this point, or is there potential for that to improve going forward?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:05 PM)

For sure on DPOY. I think the way he defended in the playoffs made him the favorite entering the season, and he's somehow improved on that. As far shooting around the rim ... I think it's pretty much who he is, at least when not playing Miami.

Clipper BandWagon (Hollywood Blvd.)

Wow!!! Are you going to break the chat record? You are going for 2 hours...

Kevin Pelton
  (4:05 PM)

First-time reader!

Jeremy (FL)

with how well Miles Plumlee was playing in summer league and because he was just buried on the bench last season, how did the pacers not know the ability he had and sold him so low? i like scola but to give up Plumlee and a first round pick seems like bad value.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:06 PM)

I can't speak for them, but I for one am surprised how much of what Plumlee did in summer league has translated to the regular season. It looked unsustainable against NBA defenses to me from what I saw.

Adam (VT)

Are teams looking to clear cap space this summer in anticipation of Lebron opting out? If so who and does that add any value to Humphries expiring deal?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:07 PM)

Most of the teams who are looking to clear space have already done so, so I don't think there will be much value in any expiring contract in that regard. What we're more likely to see is expiring contract for expiring contract swaps, like Okafor for Gortat.

Tom (Oregon)

I know it is early, but have you changed your position in regards to the Dubs???

Kevin Pelton
  (4:08 PM)

I agreed with the question that made them a legitimate championship contender, so yes. At this point I think they have to be regarded ahead of Memphis in the West's top five.

Mike (U District)

Brighter future: UW basketball or UW football? Any what's BRoy been up to these days?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:09 PM)

I think I'm going to say basketball since there aren't the same kind of roadblocks that Oregon and Stanford are going to present in the football north division for the foreseeable future.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:10 PM)

Haven't heard anything on Roy since he effectively announced his retirement over the summer: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/60185/brandon-roy-calls-career

Nathan (LA)

It definitely seems like Allen and Battier were aware that other teams' strategy against them is to run them off the arc, and they consciously worked on their game off the dribble.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:11 PM)

Good question for Tom Haberstroh to ask them.

Steve (ATL)

In your opinion, who poses the biggest threat to the Heat this season? The Bulls? The Pacers? The West? Or History??

Kevin Pelton
  (4:11 PM)

The collective strength of the field in the East.

Ted (OKC)

everyone bashes the Thunder for the Harden trade but no one praises Orlando for the Howard trade. The Magic got Vucevic, Afflalo, Harkless, and three future first round draft picks one of which could be a lottery pick this year. They got so much criticism for the trade at the time but looking back on it now it was an amazing trade why no love?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:12 PM)

Why just today on Grantland it got love: http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/81791/we-went-there-dwightmare-on-polk-street

Deric (Tacoma)

Been to Salumi in Seattle? I'm gonna make my first trip in the next few weeks. Also, am I wrong to think CP3 may actually take his 1st MVP over Durant this year? Guy has been CRAZY thus far.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:13 PM)

I think if someone's going to beat out LeBron, they have to finish first in the West. So that pretty much will determine things between KD and CP3.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:13 PM)

No on Salumi, though I'm going to have to make it happen soon.

D (Dallas)

Is the more efficient Monta Ellis here to stay?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:14 PM)

I don't think he's going to keep shooting the ball quite this well, as his midrange accuracy is probably unsustainable, but I think it was inevitable he would prove more efficient playing in the Dallas offense.

Craig (CT)

Nate Wolters has been pretty good so far this season for Milwaukee. Any chance he stays in the starting five once Knight and Ridnour comes back?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:15 PM)

I'd be surprised if he starts, but he's got a chance to keep a spot in the rotation. No surprise to true Naters out there.

Matt (Indianapolis)

Did your Double-Double "Animal Style" arrive yet?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:15 PM)

Not yet. What's taking that plane so long?

Charles (San Jose)

Do you get the Pac-12 Networks? If so, are you the only one?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:15 PM)

I think there's like a dozen of us.

Adam (VT)

The Magic got crushed in the wake of the Howard deal and now many are pointing to them as the biggest winners. Can you think of a nother trade where the sentiment shifted so much over such a short period of time?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:16 PM)

Look at how fast the sentiment shifted on the Rockets getting Thomas Robinson. That barely took two months!

Kevin Pelton
  (4:16 PM)

One thing we should note is a lot of the criticism of the Magic on the Howard trade is that they had to take back long-term salary in the form of Al Harrington in particular. That's kind of invisible compared to how well Vucevic and Harkless have played, but it does still matter to some extent.

Rejean (Montreal)

Monta Ellis numbers are very good this year. A lot have been said on how advanced stats didn't like him in the past and he's making the number lie this year. Do all the credit goes to Dallas (Carlisle) system and do you think he's going to sustain them?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:18 PM)

I've said this in the past, but systems that place a high emphasis on shot creation (via usage rate) were not nearly as down on Monta as those that place a high emphasis on efficiency. His improvement over this small sample has gone beyond what could be projected simply from usage rate, but it's not a new story.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:18 PM)

Also worth noting he has done this before, when playing alongside Baron Davis in Golden State. So it's not strictly a Dallas thing.

Dan (Rochester)

If Adams turns into the White Hakeem, then do you finally like the Harden trade??

Kevin Pelton
  (4:18 PM)

Heh. In that scenario, I don't hate it.

Michael (Philly)

Bonner, De Colo and Spurs #1 to Sixers for Hawes. Is that enough or too much?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:19 PM)

I think Philly would hold out for a better No. 1 at this point.

Jake (Indy)

Re Granger and Stephenson: Vogal takes Lance out first so he can come back sooner to run the second team. I know the team has been playing well with him as a stater, but isn't this kind of a hint that Vogal would prefer him coming off the bench?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:19 PM)

Not necessarily. It's also possible that with a healthy Granger the second unit doesn't need Lance's scoring ability the same way.

Adam (VT)

Bigger winner this summer the team that lands Wiggins in the draft or the team that signs LeBron?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:20 PM)

LeBron. Taking the sure thing.

Cody (St. Louis)

Olajuwon - Horry?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:20 PM)

There's another.

Charles (San Jose)

Who but someone picking in the mid-to-late 20s anyway would look to bring in Hawes?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:21 PM)

Well, since the Wizards don't have their pick anymore, probably true. Just no hurry for them to make that deal.

Adrian (Greenville)

Do you trust a team that must rely on Monta's efficiency over the entire season?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:22 PM)

To make the playoffs? Sure. To win a series? Not really.

Frank (LA)

You guys at ESPN/Grantland are great for NBA reading, but can you share any other national NBA writers that we should check out?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:23 PM)

Whenever people ask this question I'm terrified I'm going to leave someone out, so I guess I'd just direct you to the people I follow (or RT or link) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kpelton/following/

B (PDX)

Will McCollum's return in the near-future make the Blazers any better?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:25 PM)

Not really. The only major issue now would be if Mo Williams went down, forcing Earl Watson to play backup point guard.

James (Colorado)

Along the same lines as the Howard/Harden trades - how about Dwill? That trade has led to Favors, Kanter, and Burke. Feels like 3 quarters for a dollar right now, but under the circumstances, Jazz fans can't be too unhappy.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:26 PM)

I was going to say I loved that trade from day one, but I reviewed my transaction analysis and I guess not. But Utah got two top-5 picks; Orlando (almost certainly) didn't get any.

John (Oklahoma)

Do you think if the Tyson Chandler trade to OKC would have went thru that they could have had a dynasty..They would have had a starting lineup of Westbrook, Harden, Durant, Jeff Green, and Chandler.. not to mention ibaka

Kevin Pelton
  (4:27 PM)

Would have had the same luxury-tax issues, and possibly even worse if Chandler had stayed healthy and gotten the big deal he did. But replace Perk with Chandler and the current OKC team is easily the favorites to win the West.

Devon (Columbus)

Kevin, I'm too young to remember the 93 or 94 season (yr they outlawed the handcheck). How bad was it? How bad is it going to be to watch college basketball this season?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:29 PM)

I can't say I really recall what happened with it in 94-95. I think the bigger sea change was 2004-05, when similarly to the NCAA this year the NBA decided to enforce the rule as written. Adoption was super-fast and the game quickly got a whole lot better. I'm not that optimistic with college hoops because the level of officiating is not nearly so uniform, but I think the short-term pain will be worth it down the road.

Josh (IA)

Am I wrong to think that the Pacers are looking like the bulls two years ago and that they will win the regular season but have trouble making it past the Heat come playoff time?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:30 PM)

I think it's dangerous to draw conclusions from analogies like that. No two teams are the same, and obviously the Pacers already gave the Heat a ton of difficulty in the playoffs.

Ramiro (Salinas, CA)

Doesn't Howard and Asik seems like a good problem to have...?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:31 PM)

There are a lot worse problems, because the worst-case solution is just making Asik a backup and Howard insurance. But that is a bit of a waste of resources.

Roy (Chicago)

Are you going with the theory that Rose's struggles are just rust? Or is there something else you analytical guys see?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:31 PM)

I wrote about that here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9935078/nba-signs-derrick-rose-rusty-yearlong-layoff

Kevin Pelton
  (4:32 PM)

tl; dr Almost entirely rust in my view.

Gabe (Spokane)

Curious who you think is the better coach: Few or Romar?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:32 PM)

Tough question to answer because their strengths and weaknesses and their situations are so different. But I wouldn't personally trade Romar for Few.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:32 PM)

(Or almost anyone.)

Nick (NYC)

In a universe where the draft is tomorrow, do you take Wiggins/Randle/someone else at #1?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:33 PM)

If the draft is tomorrow, I rely on my scouts since I haven't seen any of these guys enough! But based on the little I have seen, Wiggins.

James (Dallas)

Kevin, the Mavs need someone besides Marion who can be trusted to guard the wings (he can't guard everyone at the same time). I don't know how much help Devin Harris would be when he returns, is there anyone the Mavs should trade for that can help in this regard.I really dread going to the playoffs and asking Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis to defend the perimeter.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:34 PM)

What would the Mavericks trade in this scenario? Vince? Seems a little like a weakness they're probably going to have to live with.

Rich (OKC)

Jeremy Lamb or Steven Adams could hit the game winning shot in game 7 of the NBA Finals, and people would still rip the Harden trade. It has been rehashed to death, but Harden had to be traded, and it now should definitely be a moot point since he would most assuredly be playing elsewhere now that the new contract is in force. He wanted to be "the man" and he was never going to be more than the third fiddle in OKC

Kevin Pelton
  (4:35 PM)

To be clear, my criticism has to do with the specifics of the trade and not trading Harden. As with the Magic, the biggest criticism is not getting a single marquee talent in return. Given that Orlando now appears to have gotten such a player out of its prospects, your mileage may vary on that philosophy.

Bill (Georgia)

John from Oklahoma is ignoring the "butterfly effect" -- if OKC had acquired Chandler in February of '09, then their 2008-09 record might've been slightly better and they might not have been able to draft Harden in June of '09. Maybe Minnesota might've drafted Harden and David Kahn would still have a job now!

Kevin Pelton
  (4:36 PM)

True.

Bucks fan (Milwaukee)

I like Ilyasova, but I'd have no problem dealing him to the Rockets, particularly if it freed up playing time for John Henson. I'd like to get Terrance Jones (inexpensive backup 4) in return. But what else can Houston offer? Asik doesn't really fit, seeing that we have the greatest center ever -- Zaza.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:36 PM)

Not much. Really, what the Bucks need is a consolidation trade, and the Rockets can't help there.

Marques (San Francisco)

What would you say is the best trade rumor that you heard that never happened?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:37 PM)

Since a friend asked me about this the other day, I'll bring up the aborted Kemp-for-Pippen deal on Draft Day 1994. Consider how much that would have changed the futures of both 1996 NBA Finalists.

Albert (FL)

How bad is the Jeremy Lin contract?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:38 PM)

Not that bad?

Bob (Seattle)

Do you think the Pacers can keep Lance next season, or will they have to back off for luxury tax reasons?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:43 PM)

I think they should be OK. If they buy out the final year of Scola's contract, I have them at $65.8 million for 11 players. That gives them about $10 million under the tax line to re-sign Stephenson and fill out the roster.

Marcus A. (Seattle, WA)

Do you think UW has an NCAA team this year? Went to the exhibition against CWU and Nigel Williams-Goss and Perris Blackwell impressed me quite a bit.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:43 PM)

I think they've got that potential, which is more than I would have said this time last season. Still want to see them manage the new hand-checking restrictions against quality competition.

Rich (OKC)

The Tyson Chandler trade would not have worked for the Thunder. It is easy to look at what he became, but you have to remember he was making like $12 mill per with two years left. If you go back and check, Chandler missed most of the next two seasons with various ailments and who knows if he would have been resigned. Chandler signed with Charly on the cheap and Dallas got him basically off the scrap heap. Also, Chandler on the Thunder with his salary means that Ibaka does not come over when he does and, yeah more butterflies...

Kevin Pelton
  (4:45 PM)

Chandler's injury-plagued season in Charlotte would have been the one where the Thunder first made the playoffs and started to make the noise, so not sure it would have changed much for them.

Spud ((New Jersey))

Most attractive expiring contract ??

Kevin Pelton
  (4:46 PM)

Expiring contracts just don't hold that much value anymore, so basically you're looking at a player in the last year of his deal who can still play and help a team now without adding to their future salary obligations. In other words, Spencer Hawes.

cw (madison)

You're wrong about corbin playing Jefferson too much. He's got jefferson, burkes and Ian clark (who has done nothing with his minutes so far). He starts Jefferson so Burkes can come off the bench. If he started Burkes the bench would literally score no points. If he's still playing Jefferson the same minuets when Rush and Williams come back, they you might have something to complain about.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:48 PM)

Well, as we've discussed earlier, Lance Stephenson is an example of a player who starts and still anchors a second unit in the way Burks does in Utah. But I'm sure 28 mpg isn't the limit for Burks, and there's no reason to take any minutes from him and give them to Jefferson in my opinion.

Marcus A. (Seattle, WA)

"Harden had to be traded." Why? They could have won the championship with him last year. Even if he was gone this year, were Lamb and Adams worth giving up the pole position in the West for?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:50 PM)

Yes, that is the other aspect of my criticism. A similar package would have been waiting via a sign-and-trade.

Albert (FL)

to be clear they didnt have to trade harden they could have paid the luxury tax, teams are going to have to pay the tax at some point to win titles.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:50 PM)

That wasn't an option for Sam Presti.

Matt (Everywhere)

Assuming your scenario on resigning Stephenson holds true and Scola is bought out, what are the odds Scola and/or Granger resign on a likely-to-be-below-market-value contract and stay with the team?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:51 PM)

Maybe an outside chance with Scola, but probably not. It would be possible if Stephenson signed for something near the mid-level, but he seems to have priced himself out of that market.

patrick (california)

memphis took a lot of heat trading gasol to the lakers, but Marc Gasol seems to have worked out really well for them even tho the lakers won a couple championships with Pau

Kevin Pelton
  (4:52 PM)

Yes, that's a good example of one where immediate public vitriol flipped years later. Frankly, the track record of trades everyone hated when they were made is really good.

Rich (OKC)

Re: the injury plagued season in CHarlotte for Chandler, would the Thunder have resigned CHandler after being a payroll bandit for two years?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:53 PM)

His good year in Dallas would have been the last one of his contract.

Eric (South Bay)

Just curious why OJ Mayo did not get more consideration from contenders. He's on a relatively cheap deal and it seems the Spurs/Thunder/Warriors/Pacers/Bulls all could have used a 6th man who could come in and get you buckets. Seems like people forgot how valuable he was the year Gay went down and the Grizz went 7 with OKC

Kevin Pelton
  (4:55 PM)

He was out of their price range, either because of uxury tax considerations (CHI/IND/OKC) or the need to split that money among multiple positions (SAS/GSW).

Jai (Seattle)

I feel guilty asking a question about the Zombie Sonics but it's bugging me... why wouldn't they go small with Durant at the 4 and Ibaka at the 5? Seemed to work for the Heat.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:56 PM)

I don't think they believe they can have a championship-caliber defense playing small as their primary lineup. And, unlike Miami, they don't exactly have a surplus of quality wings right now.

Bob (Delaware)

You said George might be better than Harden. Do that mean you have George as a top 5 overall player?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:57 PM)

If he keeps playing at this level, then he has to be in the conversation.

Rich (OKC)

Can we quit calling the Thunder cheap? They will definitely be tax payers next year and the year after that. It is sound management to avoid the repeater tax. IMO, I wouldn't want the Thunder to be in tax hell when KD actually is a free agent three years from now.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:58 PM)

I will believe the Thunder will pay the luxury tax when it happens.

Luke (IA)

Would Copeland be the natural PF fill-in in the Scola buy-out scenario? Or would they go outside the organization?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:59 PM)

Surely Copeland. That was the role they envisioned for him before the Scola trade came along, and they won't have a first-round pick or much money for another replacement. Alternative possibility, as brought up earlier in a question I didn't answer, is dealing Copeland to free up some more money.

Islander (Barcelona)

To people arguing that Memphis won the Gasol trade, how many rings have they won so far?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:00 PM)

Chill. The whole point of a long term view of the Gasols trade is that they don't necessarily have to have one "winner" and one "loser." If two teams with different goals trade, they can both win.

Andrew (MI)

How many questions do you get submitted to you per 36? What % do you get to post/answer?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:01 PM)

Today we're at about 150 per 36 minutes. Not sure how many I've answered. Maybe a quarter? Question is, do you want a volume shooter or high efficiency in your answers?

Andrew (MI)

Do you like turtles? What's your favorite color? What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you have a favorite number? (mine's 44) What's your favorite food? What kind of music do you like?... I was going to send these all in separate questions just to see how many questions it would take before you answered one. I decided against it. Thanks for reading!

Kevin Pelton
  (5:02 PM)

I guess. Blue. A basketball player. 8. Sandwiches. Rap/indie rock.

Andrew (MI)

When Greg Monroe gets a max contract next year, how much room will the pistons have left and who could they get for that amount?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:03 PM)

It's basically exactly the mid-level, per my estimates. So you're looking at trying to upgrade the rotation of wing shooters, I presume.

Gabe (Seattle)

Favorite non uw or sonics player of all time?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:04 PM)

Probably Penny Hardaway. Big fan of his as a kid.

Charles (San Jose)

Is it fair to judge the Gasols trade based on how Marc developed? I don't recall anyone at the time thinking he would be half as good as he turned out, even Grizzlie management.

Kevin Pelton
  (5:05 PM)

I think one of the lessons of this trip down Hindsight Lane is that there's a lot to be said for just accumulating young assets and hoping one or two pay off. But even if Gasol didn't become an All-Star, a solid starter + Z-Bo (acquired with money that was going to Pau) was pretty solid return.

Bracken (UT)

Does George Karl coach again? McMillen, Van Gundy? Who is the first former HC that lands a job?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:05 PM)

Yes. Yes. No. Karl.

Ryan (Denver)

I have to ask again since I'm not sure where else to find the answer -- can the public access Sports VU data?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:06 PM)

http://stats.nba.com/playerTracking.html

Jai (Seattle)

Re Zombie Sonics small lineup... they're defense with Perk isn't exactly stellar is it? How long before Adams or Collison is starting?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:07 PM)

Not this year, but they were fourth in the league last regular season. Given Scott Brooks has basically only changed his starting lineup once since 2009-10 -- and that was because of a trade -- I don't anticipate it changing soon.

Nick (NYC)

Every time I watch him, I'm always impressed with Reggie Jackson. What kind of contract does he get with another team after this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (5:08 PM)

He's got another year left on his deal. Will be interesting to see if he can emerge as a Bledsoe-style trade chip for the Thunder.

Henry ((Vauxhall))

If Seattle was granted a team which western conference team Memphis,New Orleans or Minnesota moves to the east ???

Kevin Pelton
  (5:11 PM)

Minnesota because it's farther removed from West rivals. We might have to get this one in the Chat FAQ.

Kevin Pelton
  (5:12 PM)

Alright, everybody, I think I'm going to call it good for today. Thanks for your questions and see you next Friday.