Chat with Chad Ford
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford will drop by to talk some hoops.
Ford covers the NBA and NBA Draft for ESPN Insider and also makes appearances on ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS.
Send your questions now and join Ford Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chad Ford (12:59 PM)
Aloha everyone, thanks for coming to the chat today. We will do NBA in the first half and NBA Draft in the second. Let's roll ...
Opening day next season - what jersey is Melo wearing?
Chad Ford (1:02 PM)
Knicks. I know the Bulls will make a run. Maybe the Lakers. It would take a big market team to lure him away. Of the three, Bulls might be the best situation, but he'd have to play for Thibs and I don't know how well he would handle that. He bristled at D'Antoni at times. At the end of the day, most elite free agents stay. He's in the right market. His owner will spend money. The team will have major flexibility in the summer of 2015. I'm sticking with the Knicks.
Tim (Los Angeles)
How hot are the collective seats of Chris Grant and Mike Brown? And who do you think the Cavs are most likely to target at the deadline?
Chad Ford (1:05 PM)
Virtually every GM in the league believes that Grant will be gone this summer if things don't get turned around this season. He doesn't have much time. The thinking is that there's no way Dan Gilbert is going to let him make another lottery pick if that's the direction the Cavs end up heading. Grant's goal (via his owner) is to get this team competitive and into the playoffs. The Deng move was supposed to help. But so far ... nothing. Chemistry is a major issue there and some of that is on Mike Brown. But more of it is on the collection of players in Cleveland at the moment. Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can't afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.
The Suns are likely to have 4 first round picks this year, 3 mid first rounders + the Pacers pick. Do you see them using a couple picks at the trade deadline or keeping them for draft day picks/trades?
Chad Ford (1:08 PM)
Those mid first rounders aren't particularly valuable at the moment. The draft is very strong 1-10, maybe 1-12. Then starts to drop off pretty dramatically. So, I doubt the Suns can get a lot for them. But that Emeka Okafor expiring contract they have -- that's the valuable chip. Pair that together with a couple of mid first rounders and maybe they add another piece that helps them secure a better seed in the playoffs.
Opening night next year - Is the big 3 intact for Miami?
Chad Ford (1:11 PM)
Doubt it. But I'm not sure it will be LeBron that leaves. From what I can gather talking to teams and agents around the league, it's Chris Bosh who is the most likely to leave. LeBron and Wade are so good, I think we all forget what a force Bosh can be. Lots of teams would give him the max and feature him in ways Miami can't. LeBron might leave, but I think the odds are in Miami's favor.
Shivu (OC, CA)
If Durant wins the MVP and Finals MVP by beating the Heat, are we going to talk about him being the best player in the league going into 2014-15'?
Chad Ford (1:13 PM)
Way he's playing right now? He is the best player in the league. I'm a huge LeBron fan and have felt he's been the MVP in the league last five years. But this year, my vote, if it were taken today, is for Durant. Not just for season MVP. But as the best player in the league today.
How do you see the trade deadline playing out for the Orlando Magic? They have a great asset in Afflalo (and possibly Nelson's non-guaranteed contract), but are there any teams willing/able to give anything of value in return?
Chad Ford (1:15 PM)
Yes. Especially for Afflalo. He's been a borderline All-Star this year. Is in his prime and has a reasonable contract. Might be one of the best trade chips on the market right now.
Hey Chad, love your chats! With the Raptors playing as well as they've played in a long time, why hasn't espn talked about them as much as the top teams. They are sitting in 3rd place in the East and their defense has been stellar...
Chad Ford (1:17 PM)
They are just 3 games over .500. The next closest team is the Heat who are 9 1/2 games ahead of them in the East midway through the season. They are actively shopping perhaps their best player this season -- Kyle Lowry. And would really love it if they could get in a position to win the No. 1 pick -- not home court advantage in the first round. That's why.
McKay (Orem, UT)
What is with the Jazz winning so much? They are playing themselves right out of a top 3 pick. They have to trade away R. Jefferson and M. Williams before the deadline right? Right?
Chad Ford (1:21 PM)
Don't think it's Richard Jefferson or Marvin Williams who are putting them over the top. Jefferson has a -7.6 +/- rating. He's helping them lose. Williams essential breaks even. The rest of the players they have are all young building blocks that need the minutes. The truth is the Jazz have a very promising young core with Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Trey Burke and Alec Burks. Those guys aren't going anywhere and are essentially a .500 team when healthy. Going to have to live with it Jazz fans. Will likely keep you out of the hunt for the No. 1 pick -- but the Jazz have a great foundation for the future. By the way. According to 82 games.com their best five man unit (the one that delivers the highest winning percentage is: Burke-Burks-Hayward-Favors-Kanter
What front court player are the Pistons most likely to move? The three of them all playing together has certainly backfired!
Chad Ford (1:25 PM)
Well, Andre Drummond is untouchable. Josh Smith is virtually untradeable. That leaves Greg Monroe. He's going to be a restricted free agent next year which makes his value go down a little, but if the Pistons can grab a shooter and move Smith to the four, the should be better.
Dan (Olathe, KS)
As a fan, how do I handle the cognitive dissonance recognizing that tanking is a smart strategy but hating it on principle?
Chad Ford (1:28 PM)
Think you need to separate what the front office is doing from what the coach and players are doing. Coaches are coaching to win games. Players are playing hard. Most of them are very competitive and have a lot of pride. Front office is trying to create the best possible future for the team. As a fan, I think you can appreciate both at the same time.
Steve (San Antonio)
Has Wiggins' last 4 games or so corrected (or uncorrected) opinions about his offensive potential?
Chad Ford (1:33 PM)
There's a reason I didn't follow the media line in November (he doesn't practice hard!) or December (he's not scoring 30 points a night) and drop Wiggins in the rankings. The raw tools are all there. The work ethic, character and intelligence are there. He was taking more time than Parker, Randle or Smart out of the gate, but had such a higher upside. Now, when schedules get tougher in conference play (and the Big 12 is arguably the best conference in the NCAA this year) suddenly it's Wiggins, not Parker or Randle or Smart, looking like the franchise player. You have to be patient with 18 year olds and you can't judge guys by November and December. Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis didn't look like No. 1 pick in those months either. Why you have to project out. Wiggins has always been worthy of the No. 1 pick. I think Joel Embiid has passed him on most NBA draft boards (including ours) but that's more about what Embiid has done and his unlimited potential than it is about Wiggins failing. He's going to be great.
Jansen (New York)
Jabari Parker's efficiency has plummeted in ACC play. Should this scare teams away particularly in light of concerns with his lack of elite athleticism?
Chad Ford (1:36 PM)
It has. His shooting stroke has left him. Teams have gotten better at taking away what he likes to do. But Parker is still considered a very good NBA prospect and a few teams would still consider him with the No. 1 pick. Interestingly, most teams still don't feel like Parker is in optimal shape. They feel like a NBA training regiment will make him even more explosive. Remember it's January. Not June. Still so much time for these players to make an impression. What you do in February and March will matter more than what you do in Nov, Dec or Jan. I think Wiggins and Embiid will be the top 2 picks (not sure what order yet, but most likely Embiid) and then Parker and Exum will battle for 3
Matt (Upstate New York)
I watch Tyler Ennis play in every game, but seeing his lack of athleticism, finishing ability, and just being a solid shooter, I have a hard time envisioning him being a starting point guard in the NBA. Can you convince me otherwise?
Chad Ford (1:38 PM)
I think we can. Kevin Pelton and I working on our next Eyes, Ears and Numbers column on him. Some very interesting things to look at with Ennis. His NBA statistical comps are very impressive. You are right that he doesn't have elite size or explosiveness -- but he's a solid athlete, as steady as any point guard in the NCAA and has a nice blend of scoring the ball and seeing the floor. I think he's going to be a Mike Conley type in the NBA.
Welp, Cleveland is gonna melt down now.
Chad Ford (1:41 PM)
Yeah, I see Twitter is blowing up about what I wrote about Kyrie. Thought that was fairly common knowledge that he's been unhappy there. Maybe not ... Don't overreact. Much, much harder for players in their rookie contracts to leave. They have to take a much riskier path and essential sign a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. Very few do it. And the Cavs are working to try to create a winning situation and culture to make him happy. Didn't report it to say he's gone. Just trying to show why the Cavs are trying hard to right the ship right now. Back away from the ledge Cavs fans.
Nik Stauskas' AST/TO ratio has been remarkable this season. Do you think he can become a pg at the next level?
Chad Ford (1:43 PM)
Lots of debate among NBA teams about this right now. Some think yes, others no. He's primarily ranked as high as he is (No. 14 on our Big Board) because of his shooting stroke and quick release. He has the size to play the two in the NBA. But his ability to play some point certainly helps his stock.
What has to happen for Exum to pass Smart on the Magic's draft board?
Chad Ford (1:46 PM)
Workouts will be key. The Magic know Smart well and like him. Exum is a bit of mystery. But his upside is so great, the Magic will have to consider him. If the Magic get a Top 4 pick, the workout will be everything. That's a bit scary for teams ... but Exum might be worth the gamble.
What is the highest you could see Gary Harris going in the draft? It seems like he would be a perfect fit in Philly with a big PG in MCW and his shooting would make up for MCW's deficiencies in that area. Your thoughts?
Chad Ford (1:47 PM)
He's going 9-14. Something like that. And would be a great fit in Philly, you are right. Unless that is Philly gets a Wiggins. The biggest knock on him is his lack of elite size for his position. But pair him with a big point guard like Carter-Williams and he would be fine.
Is Embiid already a top 5 center in the NBA when he steps on the court for the first time?
Chad Ford (1:49 PM)
That might be pushing it a little. But he has the potential to be the best center in the league down the road. That's why he's getting the buzz he's getting. I know the NBA is weak at that position right now .. but I doubt he's Top 5 out of the gate. Usually takes big men a little longer to adjust -- especially to the physicality of the NBA.
No one seems to be talking about it, but Marcus Smart's pouting and flopping don't really say "high-character" to me?any backlash at this point?
Chad Ford (1:51 PM)
The outburst Smart has was highly unusual for him. He's a very competitive player -- it's what scouts love about him. Don't think it knocks his stock at all. What is hurting it, is his struggles shooting the basketball. He came back for his sophomore year to prove to scouts he could improve that are of his game. So far he's convincing scouts the opposite.
Will Aaron Gordon still be a lottery pick by seasons end?
Chad Ford (1:53 PM)
For sure. Not a very polished offensive player, but does everything else well, has elite athletic ability and motor. Reminds me a lot of a young Andrei Kirilenko.
Has Jordan Mickey played himself on the radar as a possible lottery pick?
Chad Ford (1:55 PM)
Not a lottery pick. Not yet. But teams are watching him closely. Has a lot of NBA potential.
Of the top 7 players on the big board who are the most likely to stay in school?
Chad Ford (1:55 PM)
Embiid and Parker
Any thoughts on Clint Capela? He seems to have exploded over the past 3 months in France.
Chad Ford (1:57 PM)
Lots of NBA teams looking at him very closely. Has terrific NBA potential because of his elite athletic ability. And he's starting to produce terrific numbers in France. He's right on the first round bubble right now (we had him in the first round of Mock Draft 2.0) but if he plays like this all year and has great workouts, he'll move up another 10-15 spots in the draft.
Chad Ford (1:57 PM)
Got to run everyone. Have a great week. We will do it again next week.