Chat with Amin Elhassan
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, NBA Insider Amin Elhassan stops by to chat about the latest news from around the hardcourt.
Elhassan joined the ESPN NBA Insider team following a stint with the Phoenix Suns. He earned his way up the ranks with the Suns, serving as a video coordinator, college scout, before finally working as the assistant director of basketball operations. While with the Sunds, he also earned his MBA from Arizona State.
Send your questions now and join Elhassan Thursday at 3 p.m. ET!
Amin (3:01 PM)
Hi guys! Excited for another edition of SportsNation chat....without further ado, let's get started
Hey, I've been loving the insight you have provided in your first few chats. It's truly great for fans and readers to be able to get the opportunity to chat with people like yourself.My question is: If you were replacing David Stern in February, what would be your first major change/addition to the league?
Amin (3:02 PM)
Thanks, Daniel. If I were commissioner, the first major change I'd make is to fix the draft. Conservatively, I'd make the draft lottery equal weights and tie revenue sharing portions to wins for non-playoff teams, eliminating some of the incentive for teams to tank. If I were allowed to go nuts, I'd do away with the draft altogether!
Which would be better for the Wizards, making the playoffs or getting rid of Ernie Grunfeld?
Amin (3:02 PM)
Ernie was once one of the elite GMs in the league, but his tenure in Washington has left a lot to be desired. That said, he made the changes necessary and the team he put together is starting to gel. Do you believe he's learned his lesson or is he due for a "relapse"? Whether or not the Wizards make the playoffs is sort of only tangential to that.
Deven (New York, NY)
Do you think the Atlantic Division is wide open now that the Knicks and Nets are struggling?
Amin (3:03 PM)
Not really. I think Philly and Boston will continue to spiral downward as the season wears on. Toronto will be in the mix but they have their own set of issues. I think the Knicks will pick up again when Tyson Chandler returns from injury.
Keith (Harper Woods, MI)
The 3 bigs lineup in Detroit is just not working at all. It would be one thing if they were just having spacing issues, or getting confused in rotations, but everything they do with all 3 on the court is a disaster. The team is obviously better playing only two of them at a time, and in theory could do so all game by staggering rotations.But, with the incredible unlikelihood of Cheeks benching any of Detroit's big men to start the game, it seems like someone has to be moved. Have you heard any trade rumors swirling in Detroit? If you were Joe Dumars (or a version of Joe Dumars that didn't ruin the last half decade for Piston fans), which player between Smith and Monroe would you try to move, and how much would you expect either could fetch?
Amin (3:03 PM)
Excellent observation, Keith. I wrote during the offseason about these very issues potentially affecting Detroit. The problem with trying to trade Smith is he's locked into that deal, which will scare away most suitors. Monroe might generate more interest, but any team trying to acquire him will risk losing him in the offseason to restricted free agency (unless they are convinced he's a max level player). If I'm Detroit, my best option is to make them look as attractive as possible, and that means benching one (probably Monroe) and playing a 3-man rotation through those 2 big spots.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who is the Worst NBA Team So Far in the 2013-2014 Season?
Amin (3:04 PM)
Record don't lie. If you've only won one game in your first thirteen, chances are you're the worst team. (I'm looking at you, Utah)
Amin, do players like Brandon Jennings realize that their poor shot selection and taking too many shots actually hurts their team? It also seems to reflect on poor coaching to allow that to happen, especially in Detroit with their big frontline.
Amin (3:04 PM)
Sometimes players are coached to be "aggressive" offensively, as it opens up other parts of their game. And sometimes players actually believe they are taking good shots, and that shots just aren't dropping. Jennings' coaches/teammates need to speak up to him about his shot selection, or else he'll think everything is going just as planned.
p diddy (arkansas)
Grizz looked impressive in California. 6 TO in an overtime game @GSW. They appear to be settling in under their new coach. Should the West start worrying?
Amin (3:05 PM)
I told y'all not to panic! http://m.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyId=9943328 ...as far as the rest of the West, I doubt they ever stopped worrying. The top of the conference is a six horse race between (in no order) the Spurs, Grizzlies, Clippers, Thunder, Rockets, and Warriors. It will be a dog fight all year long.
Dave [via mobile]
Is this a workable deal? Rockets receive Carmelo, kings recieve: asik, Ryan Anderson, rockets 1st. Knicks receive Lin and cousins. Pelicans receive chandler. Probably to creative to work
Amin (3:05 PM)
If you follow me on Twitter (@AminESPN), you'll know I abhor entertaining hypothetical "who says no?" deals.
Are the Spurs currently the clear favorites in the West? Who else do you think can seriously contend?
Amin (3:06 PM)
Like I said in a previous answer, the top of the West is a six horse race.
Do you see any teams currently on track for the late lottery/fringe playoff contention moving their 2014 first round pick for another piece to help their playoff chase? And on the other side, is there a team in fringe playoff contention that will unload a player for next-to-nothing to increase their lottery odds?
Amin (3:06 PM)
Good question, but still too early to say! Get back to me after New Year's!
Mike Watson (San Diego CA)
What do you think will occur when Kobe comes back into action for the Lakers? Do you believe that he will take over the regins and run the offense or allow D'Antoni's system to run?
Amin (3:06 PM)
To be honest, I think he is going to struggle, then go back on the inactive list for another month or so. Trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles tendon is a difficult endeavor. For a really good explanation, check out this Insider piece from Dr Mark Adickes, who is an orthopedic surgeon: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/10006042/assessing-kobe-bryant-injury-return-frame-projected-production-nba
Onur (Nuremberg, Germany)
What's the Lakers' perspective for the next few years? Do you think they can be succesful on the free agent market?
Amin (3:07 PM)
Well, the good news is they have their first round pick in a deep draft and a ton of cap space this summer. The important thing is to avoid spending for spending's sake, meaning if they don't swing any home run deals, to build patiently and invest wisely in flexible deals.
Who's your favorite League Pass team so far?
Amin (3:08 PM)
Christopher (New York)
Do you think Chris Paul can ever overtake Magic Johnson as the greatest point guard ever?
Amin (3:10 PM)
I grew up with Magic Johnson as the standard bearer for point guards, and feel like he embodied the truest form, as someone who made people better on the court and made them feel better about themselves (on and off it) through positivity and energy. I suppose some day someone will come along and knock Magic off that pedestal, but I don't see it happening soon.
Hi Amin, do you think Terence Jones can be the answer at PF for the Rockets?
Amin (3:12 PM)
At the bare minimum, the power forward for the Rockets has to be able to (a) move his feet defensively along the perimeter (b) be a decent rebounder and (c) space the floor. Jones is performing well enough in those categories to be a temporary fix, but I think they are looking for a little more to win the job permanently
Mel (Colorado Springs)
Amin, how big of a loss will Jimmy Butler be to the Bulls?
Amin (3:14 PM)
Pretty big loss, considering this is a team that's known to suffer from injuries and Coach Thibodeaux's penchant for playing his guys high minutes. You have to wonder if the rest of the rotation guys can handle a higher minute load. It also means the Bulls will have to turn to rookie Tony Snell, who has the tools to be pretty good in the Butler role, but is still very much a raw talent.
Patrick (New Jersey)
How good do you think Jabari Parker can end up being in the NBA?
Amin (3:15 PM)
Pretty good. He's such a skilled guy for someone his age and has really advanced feel for the game. I'd like to see him tone up his body more (much like Deron Williams, Kevin Love and James Harden all did prior to going pro), and he has to get better defensively. Let's keep watching him this season to see how he develops
Deven (New York, NY)
Do the Knicks need to make a big splash to play alongside Melo?
Amin (3:18 PM)
I think the Knicks need to stop trying to make "splashes" and just build their team using solid scouting and analysis. Stop trying to win the back page of the Post and the News!
Kobe (New York)
Where does Kobe rank among the all time player rankings in your opinion?
Amin (3:19 PM)
Ranking all-time players is always a tough proposition. How do you compare between eras? That said, in no order Magic, MJ, Bird, Kareem, Russell, Shaq, Hakeem, Duncan, LeBron and Kobe are my top 10. Aw shucks, I left out Oscar!
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Mr. Elhassan, is this Dirk/Ellis combo going to end up being one of the top 5 scoring duo's in the league at the end of the year?
Amin (3:20 PM)
That all depends on whether this new improved Monta can keep playing the type of disciplined game he's shown so far....the talent is definitely there, and Coach Carlisle will put them in a position to be successful
Ed (Queens Village)
Atlantic Division so far looks like NFC East mediocre. If you had to O/U 45.5 wins for Atlantic Division Champion?
Amin (3:21 PM)
Great question. I'm going SLIGHTLY over: 46 wins captures the Atlantic
kris (huntington beach, CA)
If Kobe returns, plays at the same level he did last year 27/6/6, and the Lakers get to 50 wins, what do you think his chances of winning the MVP will be?
Amin (3:22 PM)
Let me save you the aggravation Kris: Kobe's not posting those numbers, the Lakers aren't winning 50, and the MVP will not be wearing purple and gold this year.
David Vertsberger (New York)
Amin, why do you hate Kobe Bryant?
Amin (3:22 PM)
I don't! He's one of my favorite players. But I have a realistic view of the world that often clashes with the idol worship many of his devout "fans" practice....truth hurts sometimes.
If you plug in Jabari Parker on the Jazz instead of Richard Jefferson, do they make the playoffs next year?
Amin (3:23 PM)
Haha! Thinking ahead...I like it! I think the Jazz need to shore up the point guard position and the bench, and Favors needs to continue developing as an offensive threat before we can start talking "PLAYOFFS?!?" *Jim Mora voice*
In your honest opinion, do you think Brooklyn ever changes their name from "Nets"?
Amin (3:24 PM)
I don't think so....I think they've made it clear their main branding is the Brooklyn name, and the team name is kind of secondary. What name would you choose if they did switch?
Mike (Bay Area)
Were you trolling twitter when you said Future was good?
Why don't more people appreciate good word play on Twitter?
Amin (3:26 PM)
I think the problem lies when quantity > quality!
Dale P (Atlanta, GA)
With the limited flexibility the Knicks have, what two moves would you make if you were GM to turn that franchise around this season?
Amin (3:27 PM)
To be honest, if I'm the Knicks GM, I accept that this season (and probably next) are lost causes, and focus on planning my turnaround in 2015.
Adam (New Orleans)
Amin, in your mind, are we at the point where any conversation about the top 5 players in the league has to include Anthony Davis?
Amin (3:28 PM)
Slow down! Davis is off to an awesome start, and it's exciting to watch (and be a part of, for the 'Cans fan base), but let's not put unrealistic expectations too soon on the kid. Let's relish these moments!
Louie (Vancouver, BC)
Who is the best player ever to take part in the Beach Ball Classic? Asking for a friend.
Amin (3:29 PM)
It's a tie between Ray Felton and Ramon Sessions
Do you see think the Cavs will make the playoffs? Should they send Bennett down to the D league?
Amin (3:30 PM)
I had the Cavs as a playoff team before the season kicked off, but they've been dismal, particularly offensively. Still holding out hope they figure it out. As for Bennett, I think keeping him with the "senior" team is best for his confidence right now. Even though it shouldn't be perceived as a negative, sending rhe #1 overall pick to the D-League could be damaging to his confidence.
Would you rather be you, with your face and your legs, and the brain of a chimpanzee...or would you rather be a chimpanzee, but with your brain?
Amin (3:31 PM)
Never give up my brain. Chimp Amin it is!
DeRozen is looking pretty good so far. Do you think his trade value is higher than Gaye's? And which of the two, or both, do you think Ujiri should be looking to move? Since its pretty clear they can't work together on the wing.
Amin (3:32 PM)
I think both of them are overpaid with regard to what they bring to the table, so I'd try to move both. But if I had to choose one, DeRozan is younger and has a more reasonable average annual salary.
I understand that Owner Herb Kohl doesn't want the Bucks to tank, but will the Bucks "benefit" from the injuries and actually unintentionally end up being one of the worse teams and possibly lock down a top pick this year? (Only way they'll get a potential superstar there is through the draft)
Amin (3:32 PM)
If you're a Bucks fan, that's what you should be hoping for. Plus it would be nice to see a team that didn't intentionally suck end up with a star in the draft.
Deven (New York, NY)
How are you answering our questions in a minute or less? Impressive!
Amin (3:34 PM)
Twitter has trained me how to type quickly when responding to people! Thanks Twitter!
Might of been crazy to even ask a year ago, but who do you like more going forward, Irving or Bledsoe?
Amin (3:35 PM)
Bledsoe is having a heck of a year, but I still think Kyrie is something special.
Do you think the Cavs have messed up too badly in the draft? Thompson has been solid, but they could've had Jonas. Dion Waiters could've been Harrison Barnes. And Bennet could've been many Noel/McLemore/etc. Seems like they're missing in the draft BADLY.
Amin (3:36 PM)
I don't know that they messed up "badly" but they definitely took some incongruent pieces. I, like you, would have taken Jonas and Harrison, and then would have taken Oladipo this year. But you can't play the game that way, because every pick you make might change the course of the following season, meaning who knows if they would have had all these great lottery picks!
Jeff (Boston, MA)
What type of contract can Gordon Hayward expect next season? Thought he seemed like a more complete scorer than what I was expecting when I saw him play this year.
Amin (3:38 PM)
In my 2014 Free Agent Big Board, I have Hayward valued at about $10M per year, with incentives that can kick it up to $11.5M. But rival teams will look to overpay to discourage a match on an offer sheet, so who knows? My article (and free video) can be found here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9941385/nba-top-30-free-agents-2014-ranked-average-annual-value-20
Do you see the Clippers a contender or pretender?
Amin (3:39 PM)
Contender! I think Paul finally has the pieces surrounding him to take the next step. They still need to shore up the bench, especially defensively, but as I've said many a time, the West is a 6 horse race and the Clips are one of those horses
Have you been able to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo? Any thoughts about his game or potential?
Amin (3:40 PM)
http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9977737/nba-ranking-just-how-ready-nba-year-rookiesI not only talk about him in the article, but there's free video accompanying it!
Is the Sullinger/Olynyk combo a good start of a front line for the rebuilding celtics? Or are they better off looking for better players?
Amin (3:43 PM)
I like Sullinger....and I like Olynyk....but I don't know if you can get away with pairing two unathletic, defensive liability bigs. Either one of those two has to come off the bench behind an athletic, defensive big, or needs to be TRADED for an athletic defensive big.
Paul (Minnesota )
In you're mind how legitimate of a shot does Lebron James have to be the greatest of all time?
Amin (3:44 PM)
So tough to call someone the greatest. Is MJ greater than Kareem? Or Russell? How do you compare across eras, across positions? LeBron will be in the conversation (and should be in there already), but I don't know how you can ever unequivocally say "this guy is the best that ever did it"
Thomas (Indiana )
Do you think Paul George has surpassed Carmelo Anthony? And what are his chances of catching Kevin Durant?
Amin (3:45 PM)
Yes, i think George is a better player than Anthony because of his ability to impact both ends of the floor. But even that attribute doesn't come close to overtaking the brilliance of Durant.
If Spurs stay healthy and they meet Miami in Finals, do Spurs bring home #5?
Amin (3:45 PM)
I don't know, but I know it will be a heck of a series to watch!
And now a serious question. With early success against an admittedly weak schedule, can you see Portland moving any younger guys(CJ, Robinson, Leonard) to bring in someone that helps with a playoff push? Or is the more likely result riding these guys and seeing what happens? Thanks.
Amin (3:46 PM)
I can't see the market being that hot for Leonard or Robinson, and Portland will want to see what CJ is about before shopping him. If you're the Blazers, patience is a virtue right now. Let the cake bake!
Other than drafting Bradley Beal, has Ernie Grunfeld made a single good move since 2006?
Amin (3:47 PM)
Pawned JaVale McGee off for Nene.....drafting John Wall....signing Martell Webster....and hopefully, drafting Porter.
Do you think Channing Frye is a good fit in Rocket land?
Amin (3:48 PM)
A "100%" Frye absolutely would be a good fit. He's one of the best shooters at the stretch 4 position and an underrated defender. But the current Frye is far from 100%.
Do the Nets figure it out? Are Garnett, Pierce, and Johnson as done as they look?
Amin (3:51 PM)
The Nets CAN figure it out....and it's not as hard as it seems. KG and Pierce were not brought in to be focal points; rather, they are in the Grant Hill era of their careers, using their IQ to be high level role players who also can lift the play of their teammates. As soon as everyone accepts that and understands the ball has to go through Brook Lopez, the Nets will improve. But even then, as I've said from the very start, this team is not in the same class as Miami, Indiana and Chicago
Who wins the East, the Heat or Pacers ?
Amin (3:51 PM)
I'm betting Miami as long as #6 is alive and well and playing for the Heat.
What do you think is the best comparison for Chris Paul? Isiah Thomas? Kevin Johnson? Tim Hardaway?
Amin (3:52 PM)
Honestly? A better defending Steve Nash, especially since Chris came back from the knee injury a few years back.
You said early in that chat that you'd do away with the draft. what would you replace it with? FA right away?
Amin (3:54 PM)
I'd have a special provisional free agency for rookies only. Instead of draft picks, each team would get a draft salary exception to use to sign players, and the value of those exceptions decreases for better teams. You can either use your whole exception to sign one guy, or split it up. That way you are giving struggling teams help in the form of a big exception to recruit the best players, but not necessarily guaranteeing them anything.
What is it about the Phoenix medical staff that makes it so great?
Amin (3:55 PM)
They do a great job of making sure the whole body is operating correctly. For example, I sprained my ankle, and they had me doing back and hamstring exercises. They also hold guys accountable; you can't go into the weight room and give half-hearted effort. They make sure you do it right every time.
It's looking like Beasley was a good pick up for the Heat, and maybe can reach his potential in the coming years. Would be huge for the Heat!
Amin (3:56 PM)
Forgive me for retaining a certain amount of healthy skepticism as it pertains to Mr. Beasley.
Who is the best player that will be available for trade? Aaron Affalo?
Amin (3:57 PM)
If you've been following the NBA with even a quarter of your attention span engaged, you know that Omer Asik is the biggest fish on the trade market
What is the highest in the East you can see the Bobcats ending the season at? I'm hoping they can be a 9-10 fringe playoff team.
Amin (3:59 PM)
Wait, you mean THIS season?!
Assuming Kobe returns from his injury: What do you see him doing over the next two years? I just can't see him playing two final years for a Laker team that doesn't have a chance at a championship especially if they won't pay him what he thinks he's worth. Something's got to give...
What are the chances Kobe leave LA? I just can't see him wasting his final two years on a .500 team.
Amin (4:00 PM)
I think Kobe retires a Laker. I can't see him going anywhere else
Amin, what happened to Tyreke Evans? Just the fourth rookie to average 20/5/5 along with the Big O, MJ, and LeBron. Now he's averaging a mere 9/3/5.
Amin (4:01 PM)
Well, right now he's not in the best situation as far as putting up stats. He's in a crowded rotation sharing the ball with two other high usage guards in a slow-tempo offense. As far as his rookie year numbers, that came with a bunch of freedom and very low team expectations. I think Evans is still a good player, although not the transcendent talent his rookie year statline would imply.
Andrew Wiggins (Toronto/Kansas)
Do you think I have a chance to be the greatest of all time?
Amin (4:02 PM)
Sorry, Andrew, I don't think you'll be in that conversation, although I think you'll be a great pro.
Ryan Z (Bay Area)
The Warriors are off to a strong start this season. What do you think they need to improve upon to have a serious shot at the title this year?
Amin (4:03 PM)
The bench play has to get stronger. I would advocate more minutes for Draymond Green in that capacity. But even so, I think they have as good a shot as anyone. Top 6 in the West
RE: Brooklyn name. They could go all in and brand themselves as the Dodgers. Wouldn't THAT be something?
Amin (4:04 PM)
I might be mistaken, but I think there is another professional sports organization that owns the right to that name!
If you add Carmelo anthony to the lakers with the roster as is and kobe bryant even 75% the player he was. How good is that team? Could it make it to the finals?
Amin (4:04 PM)
I think those two players are not a good fit, even if they are both 100%.
Thoughts on the Blazers? Where do you see them ending up in the west?
Amin (4:06 PM)
The next 6 teams in the West (New Orleans, Portland, Dallas, Lakers, Minnesota, Denver) are all fighting for two spots, with Portland, Minnesota and Dallas the front runners.
Can you imagine what would've happened if the thunder had drafted Steph curry instead of harden? They would've been absolutely unguardable!
Amin (4:07 PM)
Or would they have moved him also rather than pay him!(But seriously, I thought they would draft him in 2009)
Cwimnal (Fort Worth)
Dwight Howard's form looked really good on his free throws last night. Do you think he's figured that out, and if so, does that put the Rockets over the top?
Amin (4:10 PM)
As I understand it, Dwight is a guy who shoots well in practice, but then struggles during games. From my experience with Shaq in Phoenix, I've seen the guy shoot with completely different form on the practice court and make an incredibly high rate. Dwight getting past that mental block would be huge, but I still think the top of the West is tight.
Marshall (Silver Spring, MD)
Tell the truth - Jason Kidd is in over his head isn't he?
Amin (4:10 PM)
Any first time head coach would be over his head, especially with the cast of characters in that locker room. Phil Jackson wasn't the Zen Master over night
Steph Curry a better shooter than Larry Legend?
Amin (4:11 PM)
As blasphemous as this might seem......YES??
Yeah, if y'all at ESPN could just continue to ignore the Trail Blazers' 8-game win streak and best record in the west in favor of slapping the Heat beating the Magic all over the front page of espn/NBA.....that'd be grreeeaaatt
Amin (4:11 PM)
Ainge said adamantly that Rondo is the center of the C's future and will not be traded. 1) believe him? 2) do you think it is the right move?
Amin (4:12 PM)
If you do intend to deal Rondo, it makes no sense to do so when his value is at it's lowest. You want him to play and show he;s healthy to get better offers. Until then, heck yes he;s the center of your future!
Do you see Perkins playing for OKC next year? Or even finishing this year with them for that matter?
Amin (4:13 PM)
I can honestly say that almost everyone (Thunder fan or otherwise) is hoping he doesn't. No offense, but he's brutal!
vic (no cal)
What does your gut tell you about Kevin Love's future in Minnesota? How dumb is KAHN going to look for not signing him to a max deal?
Amin (4:14 PM)
KAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHN! I think Love likes playing with Ricky, and loves playing for Coach Adelman, but wants to win. If the Wolves continue to improve, win games, get to the playoffs, I think he re-signs.
Are the criticisms of D.Howard's post game fair in this day-and-age of the NBA?
Amin (4:16 PM)
Not really. I think his post game is fine in terms of footwork and moves and counters. Dwight's problem is he has awful touch on his shots (think about him as the guy with the million dollar move and 10 cent finish), and has lost a ton of explosion and lift, so shots that used to be dunks at the front of the rim are now touch shots that he struggles to make.
Amin (4:16 PM)
Baron (Large, PA)
Favorite players of All-Time are Maravich and Walton and Magic and Jerome Lane and John Bagley and JKidd. Who are yours? Thanks
Amin (4:17 PM)
In no order, Walt Frazier, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Steve Nash and Grant Hill
Amin (4:18 PM)
Thanks again for a great chat with great questions! I'll be off next week for Thanksgiving, but back the following week. Until next time, take care of yourselves...and each other.