Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
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John Hollinger (2:03 PM)
Greetings from somewhere over Arkansas, where I'm headed back to the ATL after the first two games of the Thunder-Grizzlies series. Plenty to discuss after the surprises of the last 72 hours; before we start, big ups to Delta for putting wifi on these birds and making sky-chats possible.
With money tied up to Z-Bo, Gay, and Conley long term, What does the future hold for Marc Gasol in the off season?
John Hollinger (2:04 PM)
Grizzlies are committed to keeping him. The more interesting question is what it means for Darrell Arthur, Sam Young and O.J. Mayo. Those guys aren't going to be on rookie contracts forever, and that's where the overpays to Gay, Conley and Randolph are going to hurt the Griz -- unless they want to be a tax team they're going to lose 1 or 2 of those guys, and I seriously doubt they're going to pay tax in that market.
Mamba (Phoenix, AZ)
You think the Lakers will still win this series? I feel like they enjoy playing from behind... and Pau's playing like Tim Duncan.
John Hollinger (2:06 PM)
I suspect they still will, but the odds are dramatically greater that it will take them the full seven. As I wrote today, I was really disappointed in their defense -- Dallas just played their regular game, L.A.'s size had no impact on them at all.
Kyle B (CT)
so have the owners and players basically just agreed now to have no season next year? thats a real shame. the game has never been more popular.
John Hollinger (2:06 PM)
Posturing. As our Chris Sheridan has been saying for nearly a year, the real negotiating doesn't start until July 1. Any progress between now and then is gravy.
So you picked the Bulls to sweep. Bulls in 5 now? Or are you going to give the Hawks a little bit of respect now?
John Hollinger (2:08 PM)
I was pretty shocked by what happeend in Game 1; I've seen this Hawks team all season and they gave me no indication they were capable of that kind of offensive performance. Chicago has given up more than 102 points at home once since Christmas. Atlanta was 21st in Offensive Efficiency. Monday was pretty amazing, in other words. I'm still not counting on it repeating three more times, but it seems more likely we go six or seven.
What can be made of CP3 at the Heat game last night with Maverick Carter and NY hat?
John Hollinger (2:09 PM)
Maybe nothing, but it still would freak me out if I were a Hornets fan. Clock is now ticking on CP, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, and it will be interesting to see if any of the three extend or if they try to strong-arm their way into a better situation like Melo did.
Will let the refs let the Thunder and Grizz get after each other in Memphis, or will the whistles take over at some point.
John Hollinger (2:11 PM)
This will probably be a high free-throw series just because of how both teams play, but that doesn't mean the refs are going to take it over. Last night had free throws but it was still an extremely physical game; I'm not sure how it translated on TV, but there was a lot of smashmouth stuff off the ball especially.
Speaking of Rudy Gay...given that he has one of the worst PER/$$ ratios out there and the team has found its identity without him, what could they possibly replace him with?
John Hollinger (2:12 PM)
Actually I think he's a keeper and they'll trade Mayo instead. Gay had played much more spirited defense this season and was passing the ball more, and Memphis really needs his perimeter threat to balance out the offense.
Which 1st round loser can you see becoming a contender next year?
John Hollinger (2:13 PM)
I think you have to look at the Nuggets, but so much depends on what they do this offseason. Let's put this way -- the Nuggets have put themselves in position to do some really interesting things. We have no idea whether they can cash in, obviously, but I wouldn't be shocked if they were still playing next May.
Can you think of a strong argument to defend Spoelstra's decision to stick with Bibby and Ilgauskas in Miami's starting lineup?
John Hollinger (2:14 PM)
The one decent argument Tom Haberstroh posited a couple days ago was that they're shooting ridiculously bad on 3-pointers (14% I think) with that lineup, and that's pretty clearly a fluke. That said, the plus-minus #s from the regular season said the same thing - Bibby-Anthony and Chalmers-Z are better tandems than Bibby-Z and Chalmers-Anthony.
Seamus (South Boston, MA)
KG took 20 shots last night and got to the free throw line 0 times. Is this a record of any sort?
John Hollinger (2:16 PM)
It's not even a record for the last 48 hours. Check out Derrick Rose's stats from the Hawks game. But it is how KG plays these days -- mostly mid-range Js and not a lot of contact around the rim.
daniel (san antonio)
Jefferson was the albatross around the Spurs' neck in the first round. Do the Spurs regret renegotiating for a longer deal with RJ? What can they do to upgrade in the offseason?
John Hollinger (2:17 PM)
amazing part was he had played so well the first month of the season and made it look like a really great deal, but he regressed so badly that he was DNP in the final half of their season. Ironically, I think they may do the same thing with Duncan this year -- get his opt out and sign him to a longer deal for less $$, and then make a run at a free agent.
i want to commend you on your Miami vs Boston pick. I agree with you that the series doesnt go more than 5 games.
John Hollinger (2:18 PM)
Thanks. Although it may be the only pick I get right this round, so I'm not sure I should be crowing much.
Should Portland go after Felton? Solid defender, would increase their backcourt speed, he can hit from distance and thus spread the floor for LA, and he is young
John Hollinger (2:19 PM)
Not sure what they're going to give Denver unless the Nuggets have a hankering for Rudy. I wouldn't give up Batum, let's put it that way, and Miller doesn't make sense for them. But big picture, the Blazers need another big and more shooting; Rudy, Miller and Batum are the bait, in that order, with Camby also a possibility.
JM (Iowa City)
OKC-Memphis looked like an NFL game last night. The Thunder adopted the "foul all the time, hope the refs only call half of them" strategy, correct?
John Hollinger (2:19 PM)
Let's not get crazy. Thought they stepped up to the challenge after a pretty meek performance in Game 1.
Damon (Santa Cruz)
John, was OKC's win an aberration or are the Thunder going to put up a good fight?
John Hollinger (2:20 PM)
I think this one is going at least six and probably seven. Pretty excited to see what happens this weekend at the Grindhouse.
Sam (La Jolla)
HORFORD!! RANDOLPH!! IT'S THE NBA FINALS!!!!!
John Hollinger (2:21 PM)
We're not quite there yet, but I'd say the guys at the networks are getting a little nervous about the high-wattage Lakers vs. Bulls/Celtics/Heat Finals possibilities getting eliminated.
Daniel (San Antonio)
Any thoughts on Pop's inexplicable decision to give Blair consecutive DNPs to finish the series? Spurs were 51-12 with him starting and 12-13 after he was replaced with Old Man McDyess.
John Hollinger (2:23 PM)
That was Pop's most questionable decision of the whole year, without a doubt. I can rationalize it if I really work at it (needed more size to beat L.A., etc.), but the fact is Blair went in the tank when he was benched and McDyess just wasn't good enough to be starting for a contender. Honorable mention goes to the decision to make Splitter a rotation player in the middle of the first playoff series. Actually between that and Phil's bizarre botching of the substitution the other night, it hasn't been a great week for all-time great coaches.
Is OKC-MEM the next NBA rivalry brewing in front of us?
John Hollinger (2:24 PM)
100% agreed. With the Lakers-Spurs-Mavs axis showing it's age, I have a feeling this won't be the last Thunder-Grizzlies series I end up covering. Have found pretty much universal agreement on this from the other folks covering it.
Rudy, Camby and Batum for Nene and Felton?
John Hollinger (2:25 PM)
I don't know where this "Nene to Portland" stuff is coming from, but it strikes me as fairly ridiculous. The Blazers aren't under the cap and the Nuggets aren't going to sign-and-trade him to a division rival, if they sign-and-trade him at all. Move along, there's nothing to see here.
If Shaq returns for Game 3, how much can he really offer?
John Hollinger (2:26 PM)
Potentially quite a bit. The Celtics don't need him to be all-world, they just need him to better than O'Neal/Davis/Krstic. I think he can probably pull that off. Biggest thing is he has to get them some easy baskets on offense, that's where they've really struggled.
Mike (Redondo Beach, CA )
can Shannon Brown not play anymore please? I cringe every time he starts dribbling, he needs to either just spot up or crash the rim, also for how athletic he is, how is he such a mediocre defender?
John Hollinger (2:28 PM)
I don't get why he's so bad on defense either. Sometimes explosive guys aren't good at the short choppy steps and quick slides that are required at the defensive end, but even allowing for that he still seems unusually flammable. But the Lakers need his offense off the bench; their other reserves can't score like that except Lamar, and they need more than just Lamar when Kobe is off the floor.
Thoughts on the heat so far?
John Hollinger (2:29 PM)
Best team over the closing stretch of the season and have looked the best in the postseason too. I picked Miami to win it all before season and again before playoffs; it may be the only playoff pick I get right.
If you're the Nuggets do you make a run at a D12 next year?
John Hollinger (2:31 PM)
Of course you do. But it takes three to tango, in this case -- the Magic have to be willing to trade and Dwight has to be willing to go to Denver. Ditto for CP or Deron Williams, by the way. Since all those guys seem to have eyes for New York or LA, it's an uphill climb for the flyover cities to get in the game.
Is it safe to say if the mavs had caron butler, theyd be the favorites to win it all?
John Hollinger (2:32 PM)
Negatory, but their bandwagon would have had fewer empty seats entering Game 1 against the Lakers.
What happens to the rotation in Memphis next year with Rudy back?
John Hollinger (2:33 PM)
I think they're going to do a Mayo trade similar to the one they nearly pulled off at the deadline -- with the goal being another frontcourt body. Then they'll try to re-sign Battier and go with Gay-Allen-Young-Battier-Henry as the wings.
Everyone in Atlanta thinks Drew should have played Teague a LOT more this year. Do you agree? Do you think this opportunity is a turning point for him?
John Hollinger (2:34 PM)
Yes. Former point guards are often the worst coaches for young point guards to play for, because they can be unreasonably demanding. Drew certainly had a quick hook with Teague this year and it set his development back; the odd part is that this also probably set Jamal Crawford back, because of how often he had to pretend to be a point guard instead of just focusing on scoring.
You're right, you shouldn't crow too much on your picks considering you had every series this round only going 5 games at the most. You did watch the first round right?
John Hollinger (2:36 PM)
Uh, yah ... I picked five because when the home-court team wins, it's most often in either five games or seven. Even a fairly even-seeming series can easily end in five games. But at this point it seems at least three of the series will probably go six or more.
Wilmer (Puerto Rico)
Is Barea the best little guy in the league?
John Hollinger (2:36 PM)
You saw the Hornets in the first round, right?
How great has Eric Maynor been in the playoffs? Do you see him going to another team and becoming a starter after his contract is up?
John Hollinger (2:37 PM)
I think there's a decent chance Maynor will fly the coop once his rookie contract expires, because somebody will give him a contract to be the starter that the Thunder can't possibly match. Fortunately for OKC that's still a couple years away.
Do the Suns have an chance this summer? Talk me off of the ledge please?
John Hollinger (2:38 PM)
I think they have to trade Nash and use the pieces from such a deal to rebuild. They can still get a ton for him and probably dump a toxic contract too, but the window for such maneuvers won't be open forever.
Do you see the westbrook-durant situation developing in a kobe-shaq relationship?
John Hollinger (2:40 PM)
It's possible. You hear mutterings of alpha-dog tension, and they're both so young that it's going to be difficult to handle this spotlight. That said, one key difference is that Durant is a much different cat than Shaq was, so he may be able to deal with it better. By the way, Shaq and Kobe won three titles before it fell apart, so I'm not sure this is a terrible scenario.
Whose your mvp vote, and do you still believe rose and westbrook are interchangeable?
John Hollinger (2:42 PM)
On the first one, as you probably know, I nominated Howard. On the second item, Westbrook wouldn't have any of these issues if he was on the Bulls because nobody would be screaming at him to get the ball to Keith Bogans. Rose has the freedom to be a scoring point guard because it's Chicago's best chance; Westbrook does by and large the same things but takes heat for it, justifiably, because it takes the ball out of Durant's hands.
Fair to say that Larry Drew is under-rated? He's made some mistakes and certainly had a hard time getting his team's attention at times during the season, but he out-coached Van Gundy in Round 1, and his scheme with Rose worked well in Game 1.
John Hollinger (2:45 PM)
I'd go more for "perplexing." He's done some baffling, goofy stuff this year -- barely playing Zaza, starting Teague one game and then DNPing him two games later, the self-inflicted punishment from his two-foul rule, etc. But he's also mixed in some really clever decisions (resuscitating Collins' career, for instance). The optimist in me hopes it's a rookie coach working through his mistakes, but he has to get them to play hard consistently before I have much faith that it's the case.
If Dwight forces his way out of Orlando and Sam Presti calls Othis Smith and offers Perkins and Westbrook for Dwight Howard, who says no???
John Hollinger (2:46 PM)
Dwight isn't forcing his way out of Orlando to go to Oklahoma City, sorry. The only players in this game are the places where Howard is willing to sign an extension, which is why New York and L.A. are in the best position. Dark horse? Howard's home town of Atlanta.
Brandt (Fort Wayne)
Do the 76ers need to keep or trade away Iguodala?
John Hollinger (2:48 PM)
As good as he was this year, I think they have to look hard at trading him while his value his high. That contract is really going to hold Philly back over the next three years, especially given their other financial constraints.
What about Chicago and both Howard and Rose are Addidas guys... Noah/Taj/Brewer and picks... can they get a better offer?
John Hollinger (2:49 PM)
Yes, sorry, left out Chicago .. they would be in the game too.
Hyped Hawks Fan (ATL)
I splurged for a tix for Fridays game on the club level side how do u think the crowd will b
John Hollinger (2:50 PM)
I expect a good crowd on Friday (I'll be there too). Hawks have tended to have much stronger postseason crowds than regular season, especially in series where they've shown a pulse.
Bobbert (Atlanta (GA))
Is golden state going to get rid of curry or ellis?
John Hollinger (2:50 PM)
See who they hire as coach and you'll have your answer. If it's a defense guy, Monta can start packing.
What potential SGs could Phoenix pick up in the offseason to take up the space that was supposedly occupied by Vince Carter.
John Hollinger (2:51 PM)
I think you'll have to look not at free agency but two other areas: 1) the potential haul from a Nash trade, and 2) the draft. But Suns are nearly certain to waive Carter after his comatose performance post-trade.
John Hollinger (2:52 PM)
Folks, looks like we're going to be landing and the FAA frowns on my continuing the chat while that happens, so I'm going to have to wrap things up. But check out my dispatches from Atlanta and Memphis this weekend, and we'll do this again next week.