Chat with Michael Wallace
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, NBA reporter Michael Wallace stops by to chat about the latest news from around the league.
In addition to writing about the NBA, Wallace is also a frequent contributor to the "Heat Index" and the TrueHoop Network. Prior to working for ESPN, Wallace spent more than a decade covering the ACC, SEC, NFL and the NBA for other publications.
Send your questions now and join Wallace Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Michael Wallace (2:59 PM)
Thanks for joining me for this week's NBA chat. It's always a pleasure to get with you guys each week to discuss the league and some of the pressing topics out there. Let's get right to your takes and questions.
Grant Stern (Miami, Fl.)
Do you think the Knicks will make the Playoffs and/or will Mike Woodson still be the coach by season's end?
Michael Wallace (3:04 PM)
I do think the Knicks will make the playoffs. Even with their play of late, it's hard to see them falling way out of the mix in the East. As many as eight teams will be in position for the last four seeds in the conference after Indiana, Miami, Chicago and Brooklyn. The Knicks should be right there in that second tier with the Hawks, Pistons, Wizards, Cavaliers, Raptors and Celtics for those final spots.
What's wrong with Kyrie Irving? He seems to lack the intensity that he was talking about bringing from the off-season.
Michael Wallace (3:06 PM)
He's adjusting to a new structure with Mike Brown. There are also some key rotation players that weren't always healthy and available last season when Kyrie came back from his injury absences. It's a continuity thing with Cleveland right now. They have the talent, but they need to gel into a consistent team. Brown is a defensive-minded coach, and that's also a change of pace and culture that takes some time to get adjusted to early in the season.
Worst case scenario/outcome for the T-Wolves: key guys get hurt and we relive last season. Best case/outcome: key guys stay healthy and.......?
Michael Wallace (3:09 PM)
And they live up to their potential and finally break through as a playoff team that could be a huge problem for someone in the first round. I don't think Martin will keep up this scoring pace, but I do like the relative improvement Ricky Rubio is showing on both sides of the ball. Kevin Love is Kevin Love, and the rest of the supporting cast just never seems to get rattled in any situation. I like the direction Minnesota is headed. But we've seen them go down this route before only to hit some frustrating hurdles midway through the season.
Ben (West Va.)
W.Chandler to return soon for Nuggets so your opinion of him for season as long as he can stay healthy? Thanks Michael!
Michael Wallace (3:11 PM)
The Nuggets remind me a lot of the Celtics this season. A number of individually productive parts, but not necessarily a cohesive unit by any stretch. As was the case with the question I answered about the Cavaliers a few minutes ago, there are going to be some growing pains in Denver as they adjust to Brian Shaw's system and a couple of new pieces. But Chandler is one of those ultimate glue guys. He does a little bit of everything well. He hasn't been the same player since he left the Knicks. But injuries have played a part in that. He has to get back on track physically - and stay there for a while.
Mike your thought on Steven Adams of OKC? Think he overtakes Perkins as the season moves forward?
Michael Wallace (3:15 PM)
It's looking that way. I've seen a couple of games already when he was the preferred big man next to Ibaka at the close of games for the Thunder. I can't see Scott Brooks simply abandoning Perkins as a starter, but I do think there must be an acceptance from Perkins that he's a situational player - at best - at this stage of OKC's evolution. He's a superior defender and rebounder. But he also drags the offense way down when he's on the floor and demands post touches. Let's just say that Adams is raw, but is a bit more pace-neutral.
Hey Michael! With Ersan/Sanders down do you believe Henson/ZaZa can perform decently until the other 2 return?
Michael Wallace (3:21 PM)
The problem with that duo is that you essentially lose any threat of inside scoring. Henson is long and crafty around the basket at times, but he seems far more comfortable facing up. And Zaza is what he is. Six weeks without Larry Sanders, who was supposed to become the face of the franchise, might seem more like six months.
kobi (freehold, nj)
Everyone has to admit that Brad Stevens is a heck of a coach. I would like the Celtics to tank but with Brad Stevens inspiring these guys to play hard and together---then Rondo coming back, can you see the Celtics making the playoffs. I think Doc leaving was the best thing to happen to the Celtics
Michael Wallace (3:23 PM)
The Celtics are still trying to figure out what they are and what they want to do moving forward. But I do like Stevens. I was very impressed with the way he managed the game, motivated his players and kept them in the game against the Heat last week to set up Jeff Green's dagger of a buzzer beater. We always knew that Stevens was going to be as prepared as any coach in the league. But what he's done so far to inspire a group of veterans, some of whom frankly are still a bit disgruntled with their roles, is very impressive so far.
Wolves need bench help badly. Any idea where it comes from other than turiaf and chase returning?
Michael Wallace (3:25 PM)
They could be one of those teams very active at the trade deadline - hopefully, importing talent as opposed to exporting Love. The depth certainly can use a boost. But they have enough to squeeze into the playoffs. They key is staying healthy, which is something this current group hasn't proved it can be for an entire season.
Eric Bledsoe will be an all star? And what do you think about Markieff Morris ceiling?
Michael Wallace (3:28 PM)
Bledsoe will certainly be in the mixed for league's Most Improved player. But it'll be tough getting into the All-Star mix among the guards out West. Just off the top, there's CP3, Westbrook, Harden, Parker, Curry, Conley, Monta, Lillard to name a few. And that's excluding Kobe, who will make it if he comes back in enough time from his injury.
Jacari (Athens, GA)
When will Beasley get playing time?
Michael Wallace (3:30 PM)
Right now, the trend has been only when there's a rotation player sitting out. Beasley will eventually force Spoelstra to reconsider his 11th-man status on the bench at the moment. But Spoelstra also wants to see consistent effort in practice and in the spot-duty action he's giving Beasley right now. Is Mike one of the top 10 players on the team? Absolutely. He's probably in the argument for top 5 when it comes to talent. But he's really going to have to earn it. He won't be given anything on this team. And he knows it.
News just coming in that the Jazz waived Tinsley? Impending move coming from them? or just dumping him?
Michael Wallace (3:33 PM)
Ultimately, the Jazz will want to give Trey Burke all the room to grow he can handle. As far as roster moves right now with the struggling Jazz, everything is a possibility. One of the best fan bases in the league won't want to accept it, but this is truly a throw-away season for the Jazz. They already accomplished a significant feat by signing Favors to a long-term deal. Now they've got options and cap space to go with what will be an awful lot of ping-pong ball combinations come lottery time.
Does Miami care about chasing the Pacers for first place? I'm sure Lebron and co. are more than capable of winning on the road. #Heat3Peat
Michael Wallace (3:36 PM)
What people tend to forget about that Heat-Pacers series last season was that they alternated victories throughout, which means that both were capable of winning in the other team's building. If you asked me which team needs a Game 7 more on their home court to win the series, it's easily the Pacers. They still have to prove they can get past the Heat when it matters. They can go 82-0 and it wouldn't prove much in the Heat's eyes until they prove what they can do in the playoffs. But the Pacers are for real, folks. Miami should be concerned about how much better Indiana has gotten this season.
How long do you think it will take until Rose is back to his old self?
Michael Wallace (3:39 PM)
Rose is rusty. It's that simple. But it's not like he's been the most offensively efficient player in the league from a scoring standpoint. He scores a lot, but he takes a lot of shots. That's been the case most of his career. What will help in Rose's recovery is the development of a consistent second option on the perimeter for the Bulls. Carlos Boozer is off to a great start, but his numbers have almost been harmless in terms of impact on the game in the final stages. Rose needs a perimeter sidekick he can rely on night in and out. Always has.
Charles (San Jose)
If the Suns win 35, is Hornacek COY?
Michael Wallace (3:40 PM)
Let's start playing hypotheticals in January at the earliest. It's way too soon to project that kind of win total for those guys right now.
Will lebron win mvp this season
Michael Wallace (3:41 PM)
Check my answer to the previous question.
Adogg (Stillwater, OK)
Do you like what you have seen from the Thunders bench thus far this season, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones and Steven Adams, and do you think they have what it takes as a second unit to provide Durant and Westbrook with help to get to the finals?
Michael Wallace (3:44 PM)
Reggie Jackson is legit, and could play his way into Sixth Man of the Year consideration. I wouldn't be shocked if he's paired more with Westbrook to close out games. They need that bench to come through and prove that management wasn't absolutely insane for shipping James Harden and, before that, Jeff Green. You have to pay the price to win it all under this new collective bargaining agreement.
will derrick rose have nagging injuries the whole year and how far can the bulls go if he stays healthy?
Michael Wallace (3:47 PM)
Rose joked with reporters the other night that he's getting all these nagging injuries out of the way early in the season, so he can peak down the stretch. For his sake, let's hope so. We've already seen the difference in the Bulls chances with and without Rose. With him, they're a contender for a title, although I'm not completely convinced they're better than Miami or Indiana if Rose is healthy. Without him, they're a second-round playoff team - assuming everyone else is relatively healthy.
Do you see Big Al helping the Bobcats make playoffs this year now that he is back or is this still a longshot for Charlotte?
Michael Wallace (3:49 PM)
Still a longshot. The Bobcats are far better than they've been the past few seasons. They have established players. But the bench is weak, they're relying on a lot of young guys in key spots and the East will be a logjam for those final three or four playoffs spots. I think Charlotte is another free agent and lottery pick away from cracking into the playoff mix. But they're heading in the right direction, at least. Well, for now.
todd a (brownsville pa)
When do u think Rondo comes back?
Michael Wallace (3:52 PM)
Considering Rose came back well after the projections and Westbrook returned well before them, I'll pass on the Rondo prognostication. He reportedly was on the verge of being cleared for some on-court work in the coming days.
P.Beverly starting and Lin off bench! This a short term thing or does one become permanent starter as season rolls on? Thanks
Michael Wallace (3:54 PM)
That bench role seemed to motivate Lin in their double-overtime victory last night. I think Lin actually is better served coming off the bench, because he just can't seem to find a consistent groove starting alongside Harden. When Lin is with the second unit, he's clearly running the show. But McHale has all kinds of quirky lineup combinations going in Houston. Eventually, they've got to settle that rotation and put pieces together that fit. This could be a season-long work in progress.
Jake (Salt Lake)
Jazz fans were prepared to be bad, but not THIS bad. Corbin has to go, right? This team has good young players and should be able to stay in games and compete but they aren't
Michael Wallace (3:57 PM)
All I can suggest is to keep the faith and maintain patience. Keep your fingers crossed in the lottery because free agency and mega trades are tough to execute in Utah. But the best thing the Jazz have going for them right now is Hayward's development and a loyal fan base.
On super Tuesday, what are you looking for out of the star collegiate players? Do you have a favorite in the Wiggins, Randle, Parker mix? Any bold predictions for tonight?
Michael Wallace (4:02 PM)
All I can say is that I'm not buying as deeply into the hype as many out there are. I think those guys are tremendous prospects. But they're also all wing players, and will have to come into the NBA and actually defend superstars on a night in and night out basis. I would be a bit more confident if there was a can't miss point guard or true center/power prospect, who can make a quicker impact in the league from an overall team standpoint. But we'll see. That's what the scouts are paid big money for.
Michael Wallace (4:03 PM)
That's my time for this week. Thanks again for joining me. I hope to be with you again this same time next week for another dose of questions, takes and answers. Until then, be safe. Peace - MW