Chat with John Hollinger
Send your questions now and join John in The Show Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
John Hollinger (4:06 PM)
Greetings from an unusually sunny Portland, where we've got Blazers-Pacers tonight and a long flight tomorrow ahead of a big weekend in Beantown -- Celtics-Cavs on Friday, Celtics-Magic on Sunday, and MIT's big stat geek conference all day Saturday.
John Hollinger (4:06 PM)
Just gonna refill the coffee mug and then we can get started.
John Hollinger (4:08 PM)
mmmm, coffee. OK, let's go....
Tyrel (Marlboro, NJ)
If Pacers have Dunleavy for full season, they would be #5 or 6 in East right now, no?
John Hollinger (4:10 PM)
5 or 6 might be a stretch; certainly 8 isn't. However, Jack has seemed much more comfortable at the 2 and Daniels has revived his career, so the dropoff from Dunleavy to those guys hasn't been as steep as we might have thought at the start of the season.
What are you most looking forward to at the stat geek conference?
John Hollinger (4:11 PM)
Being on a panel with Mark Cuban, mostly because I'm not totally sure what to expect. No matter what he's doing, he keeps it interesting.
The playoff odds really swung in the Piston's favor. It seems that two teams are now better without Iverson (3 if you count Philly). Is he really that bad?
John Hollinger (4:13 PM)
I'm a little conflicted on this one -- I've always thought AI was mildly overrated so I'm glad to see the narrative shift, but I also think people are overcorrecting. Here's the thing with Iverson -- Detroit kept trying to play like they still had Billups. That was never going to work. As far as Denver improving post-Iverson, that's more straightforward -- Billups is just a better player. And remember, the Nuggies did play better after they got Iverson than they did before.
Can Salmons be a poor man's Manu for the Bulls?
John Hollinger (4:14 PM)
Very, very poor. But he could become vitally important now that the latest on Luol Deng's confusing injury is that maybe he does have a broken leg after all.
John, does the Joe Smith signing make the Cavs your unautomated favorite to come out of the East?
John Hollinger (4:15 PM)
I had Cleveland even before they got Smith, this just helps cement it. But the key guy for them is West -- they're much better when he's playing.
Raymond Felton (Charlotte, NC)
What type of contract will I get this offseason and will it be from the Bobcats?
John Hollinger (4:16 PM)
I think the possibility of his returning isn't as remote as people think. He'll be restricted and nobody has much money this summer anyway, and I think as the year has gone on the Bobs have made some peace with the idea that while Felton ain't perfect, there's a ton of guys who are worse.
RP (Charlotte, NC)
Is a midrange jumpshot keeping Okafor from being a 20 point scorer?
John Hollinger (4:17 PM)
How can I put this gently .... a great many things keep him from being a 20-point scorer.
Jake St. George UT
When looking at COY Jerry Sloan has got to be on top of the list with so many injuries and the Jazz owner LHM dying. What are your thoughts
John Hollinger (4:18 PM)
Sloan, Rick Adelman and Gregg Popovich all deserve strong consideration for the navigating-through-injuries storyline, as does Scott Skiles in Milwaukee. But every time I look at COY, I get back to one thing -- how could anybody not vote for Stan Van Gundy?
Does Kyle Weaver have a place in OKC's long term plans?
John Hollinger (4:19 PM)
He does, but it's not as a 37-minutes-a-game guy. Presti really likes guys who can defend, and Weaver defends. But I'm not sure he'll ever be much to look at offensively.
shawn (toledo, ohio)
is the recent play of the pistons a mirage like their last winning streak of 7 games or is there more of a sign that they are righting the ship?
John Hollinger (4:21 PM)
The past three games are of vastly higher quality than that 7-game win streak earlier this year -- that streak was total fool's gold, a bunch of close escapes against bad teams. This one is wins over tough teams, and fairly convincing ones. Pistons suddenly have the inside track on the East's No. 5 seed and a winnable first-round series against the Hawks.
Where do you see Utah ending up? On the one hand everyone is now healthy and they are about the deepest team in the league. On the other hand their schedule to close out the year is brutal, especially for a bad road team like the Jazz: 13 of 20 on the road with 7 back-to-backs. Thanks, Professor.
John Hollinger (4:22 PM)
I think their only chance at a top four seed is beating Houston and Denver in these two home games coming up and getting a leg up on those clubs. Otherwise there's too much ground to make up while they're away from home. At the end of the day I'm guessing they're the No. 5 seed behind Denver and Houston but ahead of Portland and New Orleans.
Can even the T'Wolves screw up 4 first rounders, a ton of cap room, and valuable expirings? How do you see them entering 2009-2010?
John Hollinger (4:23 PM)
Well, had some really good news today, with Glen Taylor basically saying McHale can come back if he's the coach but not in any other job. So maybe the T'wolves won't screw it up this time.
How far do you see the Blazers going in the playoffs this year? A lot of people say they'll be one-and-done, but with their record at home, I like their chances to at least win one series. Your thoughts?
John Hollinger (4:25 PM)
It all depends on who they play and who's healthy on each side. Obviously it helps if they finish in the top 4, but they could win as the visiting team in some matchups too, especially if Oden is back.
Jack (New Orleans)
If you thought the Detroit 7 game win streak was fool's gold against bad teams, what do you think about the current New Orleans win streak? Same thing happening?
John Hollinger (4:26 PM)
A little bit, but the Pistons streak was a lot more extreme. Hornets have some genuinely positive things going with the strong play from West, Butler and Chandler of late; problem right now is that Byron's killing these guys just to get into the playoffs and they may not have anything left in the tank come April.
George Karl (Denver)
Just learned today that Nene is only 26. Man, we have a good future as a team! Even if we ship out the non-leader Melo.
John Hollinger (4:27 PM)
Nuggets have a younger nucleus than people realize with that Nene-Melo-Kleiza-Smith group, so yes, the future seems bright there for a while.
John Hollinger (4:27 PM)
BTW, Nuggets may the surprise recipient of a mid-first-round pick from Charlotte if the Bobcats can sneak into the postseason.
RP (Charlotte, NC)
Should the Celtics pray that the Bobcats don't get the 8th seed, if they have the first?
John Hollinger (4:28 PM)
That's really pushing it. I can't see any of those teams scaring Boston or Cleveland in round 1, not even Miami. Of course, we thought that last year too....
Albert Haynesworth!!! Super Bowl!
John Hollinger (4:29 PM)
Let's just hope Haynesworth sacks the quarterback before he can throw to the receiver streaking past DeAngelo Hall for a touchdown.
John, I have asked this to lots of people at ESPN and no one will answer it. Was Monday's Cavs @ Heat the best game of the year? LBJ and Wade were off their butts. I mean, one would have to think that LBJ sealed the MVP with that performance. Talk about clutch. Also, who you goton Friday between Cavs and Celts?
John Hollinger (4:31 PM)
I saw that game and it was great, but I think I've seen better. Also, it featured the extremely rare botched timeout play, when Mario Chalmers thought the ref gave him a timeout and then just flung the ball at the backboard. That was priceless.
John Hollinger (4:32 PM)
As for Friday, have trouble seeing Boston prevail unless Garnett makes an appearance. But I'm very interested to get two looks at Starbury this weekend.
mike - ca
Heard the Sport Guy is presenting at the Geek Conf??
John Hollinger (4:33 PM)
He'll be there, yes. I warned him he might lose some street cred because of this but he seems unfazed.
PJ Charlotte, NC
If you were LB and the Bobs in the offseason, what would you look to do?
John Hollinger (4:34 PM)
You mean besides change jobs? That's usually his main offseason focus. No, the Bobcats gotta find more scoring somehow, and it's not clear where they might find it given their cap limitations and limited trade assets.
Pat (Ames, Iowa)
Speaking of Lebron what's the deal with him hitting all these 3's first 8-11 and then 6-7 is this a sign of things to come?
John Hollinger (4:35 PM)
He's been steadily improving his jumper for some time. Obviously those two games were outliers, but he no loner can be left unattended beyond the arc ... making him more unguardable than ever.
Help me out John, why does Mike Brown get no love from you media types? You didn't even have him in your top five for COY this year even though the Cavs are playing better team defense than the defending champs! Help!
John Hollinger (4:37 PM)
That was an oversight, he needs to be on the short list and if the Cavs get the No. 1 overall seed he may win. He's really got them overachieving on D.
Let's say Miami gets to the ECF this year...would Lebron v. Wade be the hottest playoff matchup this decade?
John Hollinger (4:38 PM)
No, LeBron vs. Kobe in the Finals would be the hottest. LeBron vs. Wade is second; but if it happens it's much, much more likely to be as the 2-vs.-7 matchup in the first round or the 1-vs.-5 matchup in the second.
Michael (Los Angeles)
Hey John, I know you don't like answering Laker questions that much but humor me... why aren't the Lakers ever in the mix to sign a veteran guy off the waiver wire? Is it a team philosophy thing?
John Hollinger (4:39 PM)
Two things -- 1) Lakers have been shedding money lately, not adding it, as the Radmanovic and Mihm deals indicate, and 2) Gooden and Smith had far greater opportunity for meaningful playing time in those other places; a frontcourt player signing with the Lakers would go to the end of the bench as soon as Bynum came back.
dana (berkeley, ca)
are there any data that support the rockets being a better team without tracy mcgrady?
John Hollinger (4:40 PM)
This year, the Rockets have been much better without him. Every year prior to this one, the data showed the exact opposite. Which makes total sense -- prior to this year McGrady was a heck of a player, and it's possible he'll be one again.
Robert ( Miami, Florida )
Howcome no one talks about Dwyane Wade when it comes to MVP?
John Hollinger (4:41 PM)
Considering I've been inundated with people asking about Wade for MVP, and that I've seen it alluded to countless times, I'd say he's getting proper recognition. But he's got a little problem called LeBron James ....
Jeremy (Los Angeles)
Are the Lakers worried about the Spurs' acquisition of Gooden?
John Hollinger (4:43 PM)
I think they're much more worried that Manu comes back from his injury absence fresh and rejuvenated and is able to play much better than he did in last year's conference finals. Gooden is a nice pickup, sure, but Manu is the guy that can really shift the balance in that pairing.
A winnable first round matchup against the hawks??? Its every chat, "the Heat will beat the Hawks in the 1st round", "the Pistons will beat the Hawks in the 1st round". Why all the hate? Last time I checked, the Hawks have been great at home all season and were great in the playoffs last year.
John Hollinger (4:44 PM)
Relative to a matchup with the top three teams in the East, a pairing with Atlanta is vastly more winnable. Them's just the facts.The Hawks are likely to be favored, but slim favorites given how they've played since new year's.
who's got your vote for ROY so far? any chance for B Lopez if he continues his ascent?
John Hollinger (4:45 PM)
I think Rose has all but sewn it up, but Westbrook and Lopez might warrant being ahead of Mayo in the No. 2 slot.
Catherine (Salt Lake)
Do you think most commentators have correctly concluded that Chris Paul is a better pg than D-Will and is the debate really over?
John Hollinger (4:45 PM)
Over. Done. Finito. Take nothing away from D-Will, who has been lights out the past two months, but Paul is having a historic season. More coming on that, by the way.
John, I bought tickets to the Lakers/Nuggest game on April 9th (been dreaming of seeing a game at Staples for years now). Any chance Kobe, Melo and Billups will be in action or will they be resting for the playoffs?
John Hollinger (4:47 PM)
Should be early enough that you'll be OK. They'll be positioning themselves to have home court in the postseason, L.A. for the Finals, Denver for the first two rounds.
Rashard Lewis (Orlando, FL)
Our window is closing fast -- 2-3 more years max, before I start sliding. My contract just killed Magic's future for the next decade...
John Hollinger (4:48 PM)
I don't think it's quite that dire, but I do think Lewis's contract may end up costing them Hedo Turkoglu this summer. And certainly it would appear that Pietrus will be their last midlevel guy for a while because they're going to be flirting with the tax pretty much every year.
John, What do the Spurs young players tell you? Any chance Hill/Hairston/Mensah-Bonsu develop nicely into good rotation players next year?
John Hollinger (4:51 PM)
I really like Hill; I'm not sure he's really a point guard but he can defend and score a little and at worst he'll be a rotation player for several years. Hairston is a marginal pro, though I'm sure he enjoyed Pop giving him so much run in his return to Oregon on Sunday. Mensah-Bonsu isn't likely to be factor unless you're a big fan of the British basketball team's quest to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
What do you make of Cuban's blasting on his player's after their loss to OKC? Do you think is in denial, last time I checked he surrendered a stud called Harris for an aging former all allstar PG.
John Hollinger (4:52 PM)
I think those are two separate subjects. Dallas's loss to an OKC team without Durant or Green was inexcusable and he was within his rights to read them the riot act over it. As far as the trade, I think it's increasingly clear to them that it was a mistake.
MC Welk (SLC)
What about CP3 being overcredited for assists and undercalled for traveling?
John Hollinger (4:54 PM)
I do believe they give Paul dodgy assists in New Orleans ... but he's far from the only one. Williams actually has an even greater home-road assist differential (11.3 to 9.6), so what does that tell you?
Mo (Houston, TX)
Why are Jazz fans still so bitter about CP3?
John Hollinger (4:56 PM)
Every fan base has certain hot-button issues that drive them irrationally insane. For Oklahoma City fans, it's their status as a major league city. For L.A. fans, it's any perceived slight against Kobe. For Suns fans, it's any mention of the Spurs. And for Jazz fans, its CP3.
Leon Rose (CAA)
Isn't Iverson only going to get the MLE next season? Aren't the Bobcats a little thin at the 2 spot and in need of some scoring? Doesn't he and Larry have a wonderful past?!?! Isn't it a perfect match?
John Hollinger (4:57 PM)
It would be really, really interesting, yes... and I do believe you're correct that MLE is about the most AI can expect this summer.
Brittle Fingers (Cleveland, OH)
For Cavs fans, it's anyone saying that Kobe is better than LeBron.
John Hollinger (4:58 PM)
No, it's saying that LeBron is going to the Knicks.
Do you see the Suns as a threat to either the Spurs or Lakers if the make the play-offs?
John Hollinger (4:59 PM)
I think they're more of a threat against San Antonio, just because Shaq has always fared pretty well defending Duncan. And it would be ironic if they finally beat San Antonio right after they stopped trying to imitate them.
Hopi(Yuba City, CA)
I have D.Howard, LBJ, Wade, Kobe and CP3 in my all NBA 1st team. Is it possible to have 3 guards on the all NBA first team?
John Hollinger (5:00 PM)
Yep, that's going to be a problem -- they need to put four perimeter players and Howard on the first team, but if they vote in Duncan to balance out the frontcourt, then either Kobe, CP or Wade will end up banished to second-team.
How do fans know about this "geek conf?" can anyone attend? what is it?
John Hollinger (5:01 PM)
It's called the Sloan Sports Management conference, it's at MIT on Saturday, and yes, anyone can attend provided it hasn't sold out yet.
Is a Spurs/Lakers Western Conference Finals a lock? If so, which of those two teams will go to the Finals?
John Hollinger (5:03 PM)
Far from it. I think you can pretty much write Cavs-Celtics in ink in the East, but out West there's a lot more mystery because there are so many good teams in spots 3-8 that have started making a run.
Will basketball survive in Canada? I've already seen one of my teams leave.
John Hollinger (5:04 PM)
Raptors are one of the league's healthiest franchises so there is very little flight risk. Just might be the nation's only team for quite some time, as I don't sense there's much stomach for Vancouver or Montreal to get involved.
Tony (San Antonio)
I would love it if the Rockets beat the Jazz in the first round without Tracy, would you?
John Hollinger (5:05 PM)
That would be another great irony, yes, and it's not unreasonable to think it might happen.
Bring the Raptors to me?
John Hollinger (5:08 PM)
No chance of that. Now, if you're talking about the Kings or the Grizzlies, then there's a chance down the road -- but you've gotta build an arena first, and we still haven't seen much momentum on that front. For those who missed our prolonged discussion on relocation possibilities last week, here's a brief primer -- you need an arena, and you need the city to show some interest in getting a team. So it's San Jose, Kansas City and Anaheim right now. That's the list.
John Hollinger (5:09 PM)
Folks that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll be back to my regular Thursday chat next week; in the meantime check out my dispatches from Beantown this weekned.