Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Thursday at noon ET!
John Hollinger (12:03 PM)
Greetings from Atlanta everyone, where the Great Blizzard of 2010 could bring as much as half an inch of snow today. Got the next hour to talk hoops ... I just wish there was some interesting news to discuss.
ATL didn't come out of that back-to-back with CLE too well. How will they survive BOS/@ORL/@BOS in the span of 72 hours?
John Hollinger (12:05 PM)
They better win at least two if they want to maintain contact with the East's upper crust. Hawks were playing as well as anyone in basketball up until two weeks ago but have lost their mojo a bit of late; last night's scrimmage against New Jersey should help boost morale and they've done well historically against both Boston and Orlando (not so much against Cleveland), so they have a chance to emerge in decent shape.
George (St. Pete FL)
What on earth is happening to my Magic? Three losses in a row now...
John Hollinger (12:06 PM)
Let me put something out there -- was it me or did Dwight Howard look a half-step slow out there? The turnovers, the inability to dominate Bargnani, a couple slow rotations -- most notably when Belinelli drove in from the 3-pt line for a layup and a relative nearby Howard couldn't react in time to get the block. He's still better than 90% of the league, but I don't think he's playing at least year's level.
any likely trade targets to help the grizz chances at a playoff run?
John Hollinger (12:08 PM)
I'd be very leery of this if I'm a Griz fan ... I've heard talk of Mem dealing one or two first rounders (L.A.'s or Denver's, not their own) to get a player to help ... but they don't want anyone with a contract past this year. That's pure silliness if they go down the road of dealing a first for an expiring, especially since they're still going to need some good fortune to crack the top eight -- remember, they're basically counting on four guys (Gasol, Zach, Gay, Mayo) to stay healthy for 80-plus games to have much of a shot.
How about those Raps! Any chance they go long term with Jack starting and Jose off the bench? When TJ was here, it worked well for Calderon - in the past he's said he doesn't care who starts.
John Hollinger (12:10 PM)
I suspect Jack will remain the starter for as long as they keep playing well. If they hit a snag or forget how to play defense again then he might go for the switcheroo. By the way, I believe last night was the first time I've seen Toronto play Hedo at 4 for extended periods ... worked pretty good against Orlando, even though it necessitated playing Antoine Wright at times, and we might see it more now that Triano can go Jack-Jose in the backcourt.
Travis F. (DC)
What am I supposed to make of the Pacers win over the Magic? Roy Hibbert looked extremely impressive and it seems that without TJ Ford this team could make a run for the 8 spot when Granger returns.
John Hollinger (12:12 PM)
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. That's about all I'd make of it. Getting Granger back will help and Hansbrough has been a pleasant surprise so far but they still have to many non-productive rotation players to make any noise. By the way, has everyone noticed that Dahntay Jones's PER is back in single digits? Four years, $11 million people.
Kyle (ATL) (ATL)
Is Shaq gonna take Al Horfords All-Star spot? And do you still see Josh Smith making his fist All-Star team?
John Hollinger (12:14 PM)
I think it's much more likely that David Lee takes Horford's spot -- I expect him to be the East's backup center. Horford will be hurt by being third in line among Hawks -- I think Josh Smith will make it easily and so will Joe Johnson -- but I don't think three Hawks make it unless they catch up to Cleveland and Boston.
Gary Payton (Seattle)
I want Sonics back, any chance Memphis sells or Stern approves a 31st team?
John Hollinger (12:15 PM)
Putting the cart before the horse my friend. Gotta get an arena built first. If that happens, they'll definitely get a team; without a new building, they have no chance.
Rob (Cambridge, MA)
thoughts on eliminating fan votes for the asg? it's somewhat of a mockery that both tmac and ai are likely/possibly taking spots away from far more deserving players. who do you think gets snubbed the hardest if they do indeed take one of the 12 spots? (I think deron in the west and rondo in the east)
John Hollinger (12:17 PM)
I think those are two very likely possibilities (Deron and Rondo), but let's remember that the coaches have screwed up a ballot or two in their time as well. At least with T-Mac or Iverson we know there's some interest in watching them play. I think the more interesting question is what to do about online fan voting from China, which has shown the ability to propel an undeserving McGrady. One hopes they'll get more sophisticated with increased exposure to the NBA, but for now it's a problem.
Jad Alameddine (Los Angeles)
Do you think that Brook Lopez will get robbed of the coaches vote for backup C in the EAST just because of their record? I think that's absurd.
John Hollinger (12:18 PM)
I think he has no chance of making it because of his team's record, but I also think he was a fringe candidate in any case. David Lee is playing better and other centers (Horford, Bogut) are playing at least as well, so I wouldn't consider this a case of robbery.
in your opinion, what are the odds of arenas' contract getting voided? do you think he's at least suspended for the rest of the season?
John Hollinger (12:20 PM)
From what I understand he'd have to be convicted of a felony before it became a slam-dunk; otherwise the Wiz would be counting on the hazy "moral turpitude" clause, which would teach thousands of young schoolkids the meaning of the word "turpitude" but would have some difficultly being upheld through the appeals and arbitrators and what not.
Steve (New York)
I watched last nights Raptors and Magic and as an unbiased watcher that officiating was embarassing and makes me less of a NBA and shows me that officiating is gonna ruin this league
John Hollinger (12:21 PM)
Not sure who's feed you were watching but I saw it start to finish and didn't see anything terribly out of the ordinary.
Is Omri Casspi a budding star? He's far outperformed the expectations for him and seems to be getting better every game.
John Hollinger (12:22 PM)
Could be. The one thing to keep in mind is that there's no way he shoots in the high 40s on 3s all year. But Casspi offers a good chance for self-promotion here -- my column today on under-the-radar performances mentions him and one other King.
what does joey dumars do with the mess he created? too many smalls, not enough bigs, depending on Chris Wilcox and Kwame Brown isn't being a good GM. This whole thing is sad, us Detroit fans are used to be being in the top tier. Sadness.
John Hollinger (12:24 PM)
Keep in mind that the team has been ravaged by injuries. That said, I think they have to look at trading Hamilton and Prince while they still have value and trying to get a productive big man out of it.
This seems like last year, with the Cavs playing well heading into the all-star break and seeming content with the lineup they have. Will they be as hard pressed as they were earlier in the season to find a shooting big to matchup with Orlando and Boston, or are they going to stay put with what they have?
John Hollinger (12:25 PM)
They will try very hard to get Antawn Jamison if and when he becomes available. Cavs' ideal means of making a deal is to include Z's expiring contract and get other team to agree to waive him, however that was a sticking point in the Jackson deal and was why they couldn't get him. Cleveland could also throw in a signed-and-traded Wally if they need to come up with salary cap $$$.
How do you think the hobbled Nuggets will fare against the Cavs on Friday?
John Hollinger (12:26 PM)
Not well. Nuggets' story this year has been that they're lights out when their starting five is intact and lottery fodder when one or more of them is out.
George (Irvine (CA))
John, is there a big man the blazers can go after that will fill their hole in the middle? I don't think they can survive playing small ball the rest of the year.
John Hollinger (12:28 PM)
By "survive", I assume you mean "make the playoffs" and if that's the case I think they might get by if Aldridge stays upright -- he, Pendergraph and Howard can hold things together until Outlaw and Batum return and provide a smallball option at the 4. That said, I think Blazers wouldn't frown upon acquiring a legit 5 with an expiring contract should one come available, the tricky part is they don't want to give up one of their young pieces to do it.
Ellis (Los Angeles)
Will Carl Landry ever be an All Star?
John Hollinger (12:29 PM)
I think he's worthy of serious consideration this season, I just don't think he'll get in because nobody has thought to think of him that way yet. Also, of course, the crowd of forwards in the West works against him.
Is there anything to be gained by the Jazz by trading Boozer midseason? Better to wait on a sign and trade with someone in the offseason and just grind thru this year?
John Hollinger (12:30 PM)
Yes, there's a huge reason, and it's called getting under the luxury tax. If they work a deal with Boozer or Boozer Korver and take back roughly $4 million less than they send out, they'll get under the tax line and the total savings will be in the neighborhood of $10 million. I fully expect Utah to make a deal for that reason.
John are the Suns a 50 win team this year?
John Hollinger (12:32 PM)
Yes, as long as Nash continues to defy the laws of aging. I believe today's Playoff Odds have them pegged for 53, and with the Blazers' injuries it seems the Suns have a good shot at a top 4 seed in the West.
Looks like the Hornets might claw their way to an 8 seed and a sweep at the hands of the Lakers. Is that possiby the worst-case scenario for them, as opposed to a cheap lottery pick that might help them out down the road?
John Hollinger (12:33 PM)
You're putting way too much emphasis on moving up thee or four spots in the draft. Teams that close to the playoffs have virtually no shot at winning the lottery or even getting top three, so it doesn't make a big difference.
What are the chances OKC gets another trade like the Maynor one at the trade deadline?
John Hollinger (12:34 PM)
Remote, they used nearly all their available cap space to soak up Harpring + Maynor. If they make a deal if will be to trade Harpring's insured contract for that of a healthy player who makes similar money.
Charles (Atlanta, Ga)
What's the market like for David West? Are teams going to try to lowball the Hornets because they "think" the Hornets are desparate?
John Hollinger (12:37 PM)
For the next couple weeks they probably will. As the trade deadline gets closer the offers are likely to get more serious. But I still see the Hornets dodging the tax by dealing Armstrong + Brown, which would make trading West unnecesary.
I hate to only concentrate on Arenas, but might the Wizards play better without him? They did two seasons ago, and last season not having Haywood might be to blame. Thoughts?
John Hollinger (12:38 PM)
Problem in Washington is that they only have two other point guards, and one of them (Crittenton) may be in even deeper doo-doo than Arenas. The other is 5-5 Earl Boykins. I expect Randy Foye to pose as a point guard for long stretches, and I have trouble seeing how it won't worsen things for Washington.
Ben (Deerfield, IL)
Uhhh... Johnny, I beg to differ. The Bulls were 4 games out of the 8th seed in 2007-2008 and I think missing the playoffs and entering the lottery with a 1.7% chance of winning the #1 overall pick worked out pretty good.
John Hollinger (12:40 PM)
Five teams had a worse record than the Bulls that year. If New Orleans misses the playoffs, at most two teams will -- there's no way an Eastern team will miss the playoffs with more wins if the Hornets stay in contention. Completely different odds, dramatically worse than even the ones Chicago had two years ago.
Can we all agree that I am NOT a "one-trick-pony?"
John Hollinger (12:44 PM)
What's the other trick? He scores at a decent rate off his jump shot and shot fakes from his jump shot and is below average (at best) at everything else. Two-thirds of his shot attempts are 3s and he shoots under 50% inside the arc.
What are the chances the nuggets make a trade to make them better up front? Maybe Brendan Hayward?
John Hollinger (12:45 PM)
They're trying, but they don't have a lot to offer because they don't want to mess with their rotation. I think Jeff Foster is more likely than Haywood, but they'd gladly accept either.
Josh (Knoxville, TN)
I see the Spurs are up to #2 in your Power Rankings. Are they actually that strong or is it just a product of their weak recent competition? Thanks.
John Hollinger (12:47 PM)
I find myself debating the same question; Spurs have faced an amazingly soft stretch of schedule since losing in Phoenix three weeks ago. On the other hand, they're finally mostly healthy and Duncan has been fantastic. San Antonio treks to Dallas on Friday and faces L.A. next week, which should start giving us some answers.
Pablo (Los Angeles, Cali)
Do you think the Lakers' record is a bit "exagerrated" currently because of all of the Home Games(+2 for LAC, cough)? I personally think that record is going to take a pretty big hit whenever they actually go on the road. I mean they have played 71% of their games at home including last night(away ya ok).
John Hollinger (12:50 PM)
That's one reason. The other is that they've been unusually fortunate in close games and that trend is unlikely to hold up (same applies for Dallas, actually). Lakers have league's best record, but I think even their biggest fans would concede the team hasn't played championship-caliber basketball over the first third of the season.
if the MVP race was over who would win it of today
John Hollinger (12:50 PM)
LeBron. Race for second is a close one between several strong candidates; race for first is not.
jimmy mac (chicago)
Please explain to me why maggette is perpetually on the trading block and is so tough to trade? The man produces. What's the downside?
John Hollinger (12:51 PM)
I wrote about that today and I don't get it either. He's injury-prone and still has four years left after this one, which in this economic climate makes him a tough sale, but the idea that he's been an awful contract is just wrong.
Eddy (Winter Park)
You mentioned that Howard was slow, but what about Vince, Jameer and Rashard? They all look off on the Magic offence, specially Vince.
John Hollinger (12:52 PM)
I agree with every word of that, but I still feel like it starts with Dwight. While we're throwing Orlando players under the bus, could Brandon Bass have looked any more confused last night?
Is that who you think should win the MVP race, or who actually would win it? Don't underestimate the media making a big deal out of Kobe's injuries, despite that they mean nothing to his value.
John Hollinger (12:54 PM)
More salient reason media folks will bring up Kobe is that he has hit a number of game-winning shots and for that reason he'd be second on my ballot. Also, I think MSM folks tend to look at the standings, which show L.A. ahead of Cleveland, and not account for schedule and home-road difference and the likely end-of-year pecking order that will result.
Most likely to make playoffs: Thunder or Grizzlies
John Hollinger (12:55 PM)
Thunder. Bench is less horrific, making them less vulnerable to injury, and they have a couple more games to play with in the standings.
Hey John, tell the readers that not only have the Spurs been beating these bad teams, they've been CRUSHING them, every night, which your rankings weight heavily
John Hollinger (12:56 PM)
This is true. Somehow, inserting Blair for Bonner in the starting lineup has produced a really nice mesh.
John the Lakers have had injuries to their defensive specialist and their second best player for 17 games and counting so I don't agree with you that the Lakers are overrated.
John Hollinger (12:57 PM)
I didn't say they were overrated. I said they haven't played like champions yet, and they're not the only team to have an injury this year so I don't buy that line of thought -- even in the games Pau played they were well short of exceptional and got manhandled by Cleveland on Christmas.
Texas or Alabama tonight?
John Hollinger (12:59 PM)
I give a slight edge to the Red Elephants. Would love to see how Boise or TCU would have done against either of them.
Any love for the Bobcats? Larry has them playing pretty well right now, and Gerald Wallace has to be an All-Star this year, right?
John Hollinger (1:03 PM)
Charlotte paper has been pushing GWallace pretty hard but I think he's going to have a hard time getting in. Four forwards -- Pierce, Garnett, Josh Smith, Bosh -- are clearly ahead of him in the queue, so it partly depends on whether coaches evaluate David Lee as a forward or a center and how many guards they decide to take.
Jon (Raleigh, NC)
Hey John, I've always been curious whether you ever talk to NBA scouts about guys like Craig Smith and Ike Diogu that show up as diamonds in the rough in your stats to see if there's something significant the stats miss (e.g., headcase)?
John Hollinger (1:04 PM)
that's usually one of the first things I do when my numbers aren't in line with the general perception of player. Sometimes I learn about legitimate reasons why the guy isn't valued, and sometimes I walk away more convinced in my #s.
John start using Google chrome.
John Hollinger (1:05 PM)
Ha! I do on the laptop but my oldschool Mac desktop isn't an Intel processor so it can't handle Chrome.
John Hollinger (1:06 PM)
Folks, that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions. If the Great Blizzard lets me leave town I'll be chiming in from a busy Blazers weekend -- against Lakers on Friday and Cavs on Sunday -- in Portland. Either way we'll do this again at the same time next Thursday.