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 (3:01 PM)
Thanks for joining me for the first NBA chat of the New Year. Hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season. A lot is going on, so let's get right to your questions.
Charles (Columbush, OH)
Is the trading of Deng a sign that Chicago is looking to the future rather than immediate contention?
Michael Wallace (3:03 PM)
It's actually more of a sign that the Bulls have set a value on Luol Deng, and Deng believes he's worth more than that specific number. The Bulls, as long as Rose and Noah are on the team, won't view themselves as a rebuilding unit.
Andy (Beckley,West Va.)
Hey Mike! Happy New Year. With the Deng trade complete who do you see as the biggest beneficiary for Bulls: Dunleavy,Taj or snell? Your opinion on this for rest of 2014 also? Thanks
Michael Wallace (3:06 PM)
Snell and Butler will ultimately benefit the most. Deng's defensive assignments and shot opportunities will fall on those two young perimeter players. This trade doesn't help the Bulls on the court, but it should speed up the development of Butler into a star-level two-way player. He has that kind of potential.
Where does Lebron currently rank on the list of all time greatest players?
Michael Wallace (3:08 PM)
Obviously depends on whom you ask. I've got him in my personal top 5, but he still has another five years of elite-level play left in him, barring injuries. So I try to withhold his final landing spot until his career plays all the way out.
Should team chemistry outweigh functionality/talent? The Pacers have the best record in the league right now, but, as a fan, I am not totally convinced they can get past the Heat in the postseason without an upgrade to their backcourt. Even though the Pacers do not run a point guard specific offense, Hill struggles to make plays against Miami's defense - which limits the effectiveness of West and Hibbert in the paint. Bottom line, is it worth risking their great chemistry to make a change?
Michael Wallace (3:12 PM)
I've always felt the Pacers needed another outside shooter in order to reach their full potential against the Heat. True, Hill doesn't seem to have his better games against Miami, but Indiana can get away with that as long as both Hill and Lance Stephenson don't both struggle. Danny Granger could turn out to be the ultimate X-factor in that potential series. If he can get and stay healthy, Indiana might not need a trade to shake up the roster during the season.
The Cavs have played so many teams so close this season but have come up short in most of those close games. With the addition of Deng the Cavs should be able to close out those close games. How much better do you see the Cavs being with Deng at SF and what playoff seed if any do you see the Cavs getting?
Michael Wallace (3:20 PM)
I believed the Cavaliers had playoff talent before they made the trade. Finish out games has been a problem, and that speaks to experience and structure. Luol Deng has a chance to address both of those issues at a position of need for the team. Defensively, he will make the Cavs better immediately, once he gets past the shock of the trade. This should push Cleveland into a sixth or seventh seed in the East if things shake out the way I expect.
What should the Knicks do in general?
Michael Wallace (3:23 PM)
Wow. Such an open-ended question. They need a lot of work. I'm no longer convinced that this team will win at a high level in the East as currently constructed. The Knicks are in a market that craves a star, and Carmelo fits that bill. But they would be better off trying to do what Denver did, and try to make the most of life after Carmelo. Ownership doesn't appear to be in a rush to consider such a drastic change. But that's what might be best for the Knicks.
The Association (Indiana)
Did the Spurs make a mistake not pursuing any additional bigs over the summer. With Splitter out for extended time, that mean they are going to have to rely on Jeff Ayres, or play Duncan too many minutes. Is this an area they look to improve before the deadline?
Michael Wallace (3:25 PM)
I'm done counting the Spurs out when they appear to hit a snag. Gregg Popovich always finds a way to hit the reset button and get the most out of his team. They will figure out a way to plug holes without skipping much of a beat. He's done it before. He'll do it again.
Some say Charles Barkley actually measured 6'4, his numbers were insane. How do you think he'd fare in today's NBA?
Michael Wallace (3:28 PM)
He'd be an even more effective player today, because there are fewer players with the skillset and mentality needed to defend him. Barkley made up for his lack of height with an unlimited motor you don't find on many teams these days. Name two or three bigs in today's game who would even slightly intimidate Barkley at the rim?
Indiana Fan (Fort Wayne)
There were a few unsubstantiated rumors floating around last week that the Pacers might be interested in acquiring Rajon Rondo. Long story short, the mock trade had the Pacers dealing Granger, Hill, and a future pick in exchange for Rondo (already know the salary does not work). However, is that a trade, in another form, that the Pacers should consider? George Hill is talented, but I worry about him against Miami's halfcourt pressure. I think Rondo would be the perfect fit with Stephenson, PG, West, an Hibbert. Thoughts?
Michael Wallace (3:32 PM)
First off, Boston could probably get more for Rondo than the names you suggest from Indiana. Secondly, Rondo's tendancy to over-dribble and dominate the ball would seem to be counterproductive for Paul George and Roy Hibbert. I don't get the sense that Larry Bird will panic in any way and make a move that would drastically change the look and style of his team. The Pacers believe they have enough.
Charlie (Los Angeles)
Does the Luol Deng trade make it more likely the Lakers get him in free agency this summer? What kind of contract will he command?
Michael Wallace (3:35 PM)
Well, he reportedly turned down $30 million over three years, so that pretty much tells you where he believes his value is. Deng's value to the Bulls may be different from what he'd be willing to take for another team, depending on his role. He clearly wants to test free agency, and has every right to do so.
Would the Cavs consider trading Anthony Bennett yet?
Michael Wallace (3:37 PM)
I wouldn't put anything past that front office. But you'd have to think there's not much of a market for Bennett at this stage. The best thing Cleveland can do is hold onto and hope he can develop into at least a decent player and increase his trade value.
Is a six or seven seed really worth missing the lottery this year for the Cavs? I go back and forth on this. Assuming Deng can drag them into the playoffs (a big "if" still even in the East), the Cavs best case scenario is maybe a competitive first round series. If Deng leaves in the offseason, and they miss out on a lotto pick, did this trade provide anything of value to the Cavs?
Michael Wallace (3:40 PM)
What happened the last couple of times the Cavs were in the lottery? Do you really trust they will make the most out of the pick? You don't play to get to the lottery. You play to get into the playoffs. If you're able to get to the sixth seed in the East, you have a legit shot to win a first-round series this year against the No. 3 seed, which is any team other than Indiana or Miami.
Hey Michael - love the articles and the chats. had a question about the timberwolves. they have the 6th best point differential in the NBA at 4.8, but are sitting at .500. which do you think is the real value of this team - one with the ability to be just a notch below the true elite of the NBA, or one that is struggling to even crack the playoffs in the west? thanks!
Michael Wallace (3:44 PM)
Both distinctions are accurate. Seriously. Minnesota is two players away from being a real, consistent threat in the West. They need another perimeter scorer they can go to when Martin is off and Rubio is reluctant to score. They also need another fontcourt player off the bench to relieve some of the pressure on Love. If they can upgrade at least one of those two areas, you'll see the T-wolves take a big step toward consistency.
Who is your dark-horse MVP so far this year?
Michael Wallace (3:50 PM)
Do you think the Heat will go for Bynum. I think it is low risk/ high rewards
Michael Wallace (3:53 PM)
I said this earlier today. If Pat Riley once bit on Mark Blount, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire, Erick Dampier, Eddy Curry, Ronny Turiaf, Chris Andersen and Greg Oden, he's sure the crave at least a sample of Andrew Bynum - even if it appears to be a bit of overindulgence. I don't think the Heat need Bynum, and I don't think they go after him. Unless they've given up hope on getting anything out of Greg Oden this year.
The Cavs were on track for a top 5 pick in the best draft in years before the Deng trade. Are they now set up to live in mediocrity for eternity?
Michael Wallace (3:55 PM)
How do we know this is the best draft in years?
Does Paul George have a realistic chance at winning the MVP?
Michael Wallace (3:59 PM)
Depends on your definition of realistic. I think Indiana would have to run away from LeBron and Miami in the East and George would have to outperform Kevin Durant in a few major stat categories to overtake both of those candidates for MVP. It's an uphill climb, but just to be mentioned with those two is a worthy accomplishment at this stage of a career that's only growing brighter by the month.
Michael Wallace (4:00 PM)
Well, that's my time for this week. One quick update, it looks like Andrew Bynum has been waived by the Bulls, as expected, and is likely headed for free agency later this week unless a team picks up his current contract in the next couple of days. Thanks again for joining me, and I look forward to being back with you this time next week. Until then, peace - MW