Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Friday at noon ET!
John Hollinger (12:02 PM)
Greetings everyone. Just back from a wild game in Houston on Wednesday night and looking forward to the unbeaten Nuggets' visit to the once-beaten Hawks here in Atlanta tomorrow. Let's warm up with some hoops talk.
John, what is going on in Golden State?? Is there any chance management steps in and gets rid of Nelson so that the young bigs have a chance to develop?
John Hollinger (12:04 PM)
Unfortunately, "management" and "Nelson" are largely the same thing these days. Even though Nelly is blatantly mailing it in while he cashes in the remainder of his extension before returning to Maui for more mai tais, Golden State's invisible ownership seems utterly oblivious. Best case scenario is that they sell the team and clean house.
Are you impressed with the improvement in Chris Paul's jump shot? He shot 14-23 from the field and 3-4 from three against Dallas and actually DROPPED his FG%. He's been money with any space from the perimeter. Obviously he can't keep this torrid pace up, but what would you think an improved outside shot would do for his overall game?
John Hollinger (12:05 PM)
One of the reasons I picked him to win MVP this year was that I figured he still had room to go up in that department, so it's an auspicious beginning. The usual caveats about sample size apply, but after ten days CP is leading the league in PER.
Hi is Thabo the new Bruce Bowen?
John Hollinger (12:06 PM)
I don't want to get too carried away, but I thought he did excellent work against Kobe the other night and the Thunder are very excited about his ability to be their long-term solution as a wing defensive stopper -- one big reason they inked the extension.
What is wrong with the blazers?
John Hollinger (12:08 PM)
What if I said "nothing?" They played five good teams, lost by 6, 4, and 3, and are now 2-3 -- just like they were after five games last year. I think there's an uneasiness in PDX because the expectations are so much higher this season, but I can't shake the nagging feeling that if Oden makes those foul shots against Denver nobody would be saying a peep.
The Bulls have yet to shoot over 42% in any game as a team, and their 3-point shooting has been nothing short of atrocious, yet they are 3-2. Is this a sign they are going to miss Ben Gordon terribly, or that their D is that much improved? How good can they be assuming Salmons, Rose, Hinrich, and Deng start making shots consistently?
John Hollinger (12:09 PM)
it's both. The Bulls are going to be better defensively and worse offensively than they were a year ago, and I suspect at the end of it all they're going to end up right back where they were a year ago -- around .500 and clawing at one of the final playoff spots. Bulls just don't have the 3-point shooting to stretch defenses and lack a low-post scorer.
Right or wrong: the decision to make Mo Williams an All-Star in 2008 over Vince Carter, Rajon Rondo et al. has been proven wrong. Being a good shooter and getting many shots alone should never be the sole reason for being an All-Star.
John Hollinger (12:13 PM)
I've never believed in using after-the-fact evidence to frame a discussion ... and in this case you don't even have to. It was plainly evident at the time that Carter especially was better, but the coaches have placed entirely too much emphasis on merely landing on a winning team and not enough on the individual player's contribution toward winning, regardless of environment.
Stephan Jackson and Brandon Wright to Charlotte for Boris Diaw. Think both sides can suck it up and accomplish this?
John Hollinger (12:15 PM)
I still see a couple holes in this one -- most notably that it would require Gerald Wallace to return to the 4, which the Bobcats swore they wouldn't do after those scary concussions. Also, as our Marc Stein pointed out, the money issue with Jackson's extension is a huge concern. The other question I've yet to hear anyone ask is this: If Jacko spoke out of turn because he was stuck with a Mickey Mouse operation in Golden State, why wouldn't he do the same thing in Charlotte?
Matt (St. Paul)
John, we all know Minnesota botched the Rubio situation, but will their biggest regret of the 09 draft be giving up Ty Lawson? He is looking HOT in Denver thanks in part to being in a great situation for a rookie.
John Hollinger (12:16 PM)
You can only play one point guard at a time so I don't think they'll be sweating this as long as Jonny Flynn works out. But one does wonder if they knew Lawson would drop to 18, because if so they might have traded No. 5 rather than No. 18 and received much more in return.
It makes me laugh that you referred to Portland as PDX. Do you think we redeem ourselves in MCO tonight against the Pistons?
John Hollinger (12:18 PM)
Sorry, old habits die hard -- lots of folks in Portland use that term. I think DTW will have a much harder time in MCO tonight, yes, especially since Howard is likely to play a lot more than 17 minutes and the Magic are unlikely to shoot 2-for-a-zillion on 3s again. However, for some reason the Pistons have always bothered the Magic, even last year. Not their favorite match-up.
whats the bigger surprise that you were spot on with Ty Lawson or how good Brandon Jennings is playing?
John Hollinger (12:19 PM)
I'm sure a lot of my hecklers would say the first one in a landslide. Personally, I'm amazed at what Jennings is doing. I thought he'd be a three-year project. The Euroleague translations are normally very reliable, but he's blowing his expected #s out of the water.
The Kid (Chicago, IL)
Is it a sign of just how disillusioned the Minnesota fans are, that they are regretting passing up on Ty Lawson rather than Brandon Jennings that went at # 10? Just imagine Jennings speed coupled with Love's outlet passing.... Wow!??
John Hollinger (12:21 PM)
Might be more regret about Lawson in this case because Minnesota actually had the 18th pick before swapping it to Denver on draft day. By the way, they picked up a protected pick from Charlotte in that deal that could become a very juicy asset in a few years if the Bobcats' mismanagement continues.
As a statistician shouldn't you be stressing that 5 games will not tell the story of how players will do for an 82 game season?
John Hollinger (12:21 PM)
Killjoy. It's much more fun to begin drawing conclusions immediately.
Why is NO not playing Darrne Collison?
John Hollinger (12:23 PM)
Been wondering the same thing. Byron Scott's track record of playing young guys is shaky at best, though he's maintained an inexplicable zest for Hilton Armstrong. Bobby Brown has been better than I expected, however, since he was quite bad a year ago with Sacto and Minny. Somewhere, Marc Stein is overjoyed by this.
Matt (State College)
Jamal Crawford the early pick for 6th man of the year?
John Hollinger (12:25 PM)
Crawford has been much better than I expected so far. Specifically, he's taking much better shots than he did with the Knicks and Golden State and sharing the ball more, plus it seems he's actually trying a little on D. One can only hope that being on a good team for the first time since high school has motivated him to shed a decade's worth of bad habits.
Has Shelden Williams become the new Leon Powe for the Celtics?
John Hollinger (12:27 PM)
Only if Leon Powe played while wearing two catcher's mitts. Shelden continues to lose the rock around the basket at a prodigious rate, but he's a useful 5th big man (his role once Baby returns) because he bangs and rebounds.
A.I. (Memphis, TN)
Jamal Crawford is no sixth man! Just check his resume. He isn't injured either, except his butt being sore from sitting on the bench.
How do you assess my transition? I seem to be slowly finding my role, no?
John Hollinger (12:28 PM)
I think that's wonderful news actually. Let him patiently find where he can get his shots in the triangle rather than forcing the action. One thing we saw in the Houston game -- he's a good spot-up shooter with his feet set. That's how he'll help the most offensively.
hey john, how hard was the hit bynum took at the end of the houston game? did it seem as bad as it now has become?
John Hollinger (12:30 PM)
Chuck Hayes gave him a good strong foul but it didn't look to me like it did any real damage. I was very surprised to learn it could cost him some games.
Is Bosh to OKC a possibility? Puts a versatile big man in the center and Oklahoma is awfully close to his native Texas.
John Hollinger (12:31 PM)
Biggest problem with that scenario is that OKC has to create a bit more cap room to offer him the max deal he seeks. They'd need to trade Collison and/or Krstic for an expiring to pull it off.
L. James (The Mistake on the Lake)
Can we end this Shaq experiment? I'll take Wally and Joe Smith back, no problem.
John Hollinger (12:32 PM)
Um, have you seen Ilgauskas this year? It's taking a little while for them to figure out how to play with Shaq, but I think the alternative might be significantly worse than it was a year or two ago.
Rip Wiley (UK)
Hi John. Which team (if any) do you feel will feel more pressure to get the W tonight - Portland or San Antonio?
John Hollinger (12:33 PM)
Easy -- Blazers. First, they're at home and second, their fans are already freaking out. Spurs fans don't even look at the standings until Feb. 15.
Ltnt Simmons (Afghanistan)
Has Don Nelson learned NOTHING from the 94' CWebb situation? WHy is he benching Anthoyn Randolph and forcing him to play center?
John Hollinger (12:35 PM)
This is different from the CWebb deal because Randolph doesn't have anywhere near the same leverage. So it won't destroy the season. Instead, the Warriors figured out other ways to accomplish that.
John Hollinger (12:37 PM)
Thanksgiving would surprise me. Valentine's Day would not. He's definitely going to be under some pressure there, especially since a lot of the personnel decisions he influenced or appeared to influence on (letting Smith and Bass go, getting ex-Kings Stojakovic and Jackson) have worked out poorly.
John, have you noticed Luol Deng's return to glory? He's beasting on the boards, playing excellent defense and he's started shooting the corner three with a little bit more regularity. He's also added a fadeaway from the low block that he used the other night against the Cavs. Do you think he stays at 06-07 form or do you think he keeps improving?
John Hollinger (12:39 PM)
Fantastic start to the season for Deng and it's a great sign for the Bulls, especially with all the money they're paying him. His length and mid-range shooting make him a handful for most 3s, he just needs a greater variety of moves and he could be a major scoring threat.
Mike (Tempe, Ariz.)
At what point can we say the Suns have moved from the projections of "entertaining but mediocre" to a new reality of "entertaining and decent?"
John Hollinger (12:41 PM)
Obviously if they win in Boston tonight you can make that proclamation with much greater confidence. More realistically, if they make it to Thanksgiving a couple games over .500 against a fairly difficult early schedule, I'd be very happy with that if I were a Suns fan.
James (Santa Barbra)
Are the Lakers just saying Bynum is hurt so he doesn't have to play Memphis tonight and actually get hurt?
John Hollinger (12:42 PM)
I hadn't considered this but the man raises a good point.
Robert (Cleveland, Ohio)
Do you think a foul should have been called against Joakim Noah in the Cavs final possession against the Bulls last night?
John Hollinger (12:43 PM)
Looked clean to me. Contact does not equate with automatic foul. Noah went straight up and I don't think there was enough contact from Deng to warrant a call. If Cavs fans want to get upset, check out the possession before and the wild heave off the backboard by Mo Williams.
Confused (my PC)
was your thanksgiving comment regarding the firing of byron scott? or the GM of the hornets? there was no question before it
John Hollinger (12:43 PM)
It was asking whether Byron Scott would make it to Thanksgiving.
Eric (Jacksonville FL)
What are your thoughts on the heat so far? can they overtake the hawks for the 4th seed this year?
John Hollinger (12:44 PM)
I've been very impressed with Miami so far, but I want to hold my fire a little since I'll see them in person twice in the next two weeks. Should have a much better idea by then.
Paul Pierce (Boston)
What makes Kobe better than me? I beat him in the Finals!
John Hollinger (12:46 PM)
Right. And Rondo thinks he's better than CP. Now we just need Perk to start talking smack about Dwight Howard and we'll have the trifecta.
JH -- Why do you have to see the Heat in person? I thought as a stats/PER guru you were beyond all that eyeball stuff!
John Hollinger (12:48 PM)
Ha! In all seriousness, they also haven't played any elite teams yet, and I'm still figuring out what to make of Jermaine O'Neal since he went up against a couple really weak front lines.
Marc (Charlotte, North Carolina)
You ignore Bobcats questions as much as NBA fans avoid Bobcats home games. Can the current roster make a serious playoff push in the next couple years? If not, how you go about fixing the deficiencies?
John Hollinger (12:50 PM)
Actually, I enthusiastically seek out Bobcats questions, since there's about 1,000 on the Lakers for every one about Charlotte. When you look at future potential, they have about as weak a roster as any team in the league and I think it's going to take a long time to nurse it back to health. Trading a future first for Ajinca and taking Augustin ahead of Lopez last year both were serious mistakes.
Anthony (San Antonio)
Hollinger, Do you see the Spurs trading for a True Center any time soon? seems as if they are having trouble finding mins for the right guys, is there such thing as having to much depth?
John Hollinger (12:52 PM)
They have a true center, his name is Tim Duncan. They just call him a power forward. What stuck out to me about San Antonio last night was that both Manu and McDyess really struggled on D, and that it's the second time in two national TV games that their opponent absolutely hammered them on the offensive boards.
Will (New Orleans)
John, thanks for the Rondo zing. Can't wait to see if you're right about your boy Diogu. Hilton Armstrong has been brutal. Speaking of brutal, what's up with Posey? Did last year break his spirit? He doesn't even look like he's trying.
John Hollinger (12:55 PM)
What happened to Posey is that he turns 33 in January. This is what happens to role players in their early-to-mid 30s, and that's why Boston wouldn't match New Orleans's offer. Unfortunately the Hornets gave him a four-year deal -- yes there's still two to go after this one -- because they believed his magic playoff beans warded off the effects of aging and eliminated the need for backup centers.
Jonathan (Puerto Rico)
Hi, David Thorpe said in his chat that he believed that Shaq has had a better career than Kobe,What's your take on that?
John Hollinger (12:56 PM)
Warriors Fan (Oakland, CA)
Thank goodness we have Anthony Randolph to give the immortal Mikki Moore a breather every now and then!
John Hollinger (12:57 PM)
The single most indefensible personnel decision of the 2009-10 season thus far. Mikki Moore shouldn't even be in the league anymore. He's a great guy and he plays his butt off, but as Sac and Boston found out last year, he doesn't score or rebound anymore and he can no longer defend without fouling.
How has Bargnani looked to you so far?
John Hollinger (1:01 PM)
Gotta be honest, I'm a little behind on my Raptor watching. Got the Detroit game sitting on my DVR and will be checking it out when I'm done here. Stats-wise his #s are through the roof obviously, but it's four games and three were at home. This Texas trip should provide a good test of where he's at.
I feel like everyone is underrating the Magic. They're loaded with talent, arguably the deepest team in the league, and coming off an incredible run to the NBA finals without one of their best players (Nelson). With the addition of Bass and Barnes, they should be even better this year. Your thoughts?
John Hollinger (1:02 PM)
Pretty much agree. Their path to the Finals isn't any easy one since Cleveland and Boston both are in the East, but I felt Magic were getting short shrift all summer.
Do you think that the cavs should trade Z for a player like Stephen Jackson, or do you think that will disrupt their depth on the center position. It obvious they need some offense and Jackson is also a very solid defender
John Hollinger (1:03 PM)
I think they need to look hard at it if the offensive struggles continue, and look at it from this perspective: They would basically be playing Jack at the 4, going smaller and faster, and then playing through Shaq in halfcourt situations.
John, Would the Hornets consider trading David West for an expiring contract such as big Z Ilgauskus. I know they are hurting financially
John Hollinger (1:05 PM)
They would have to look hard at dealing West or Okafor if they continue to struggle, in order to get under the luxury tax. Other trades can get them under this year, but they're also set to be way over NEXT year, and would need to dump a big contract to get under. Since nobody is taking Peja and they'll never trade CP, that leaves West and Okafor.
John Hollinger (1:06 PM)
Folks, I'm out of time, but thanks again for all the great questions. Next week I return to Thursday, with a new time at 12 noon.