Posting Up: NBA chat with Tim Bontemps

Dec 08, 2015

The Post's national NBA writer Tim Bontemps answered questions about the NBA.

Hello all. Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to getting into this on a weekly basis. Fire away with any questions you've got. And, with that, let's get started!

How many features do you plan to write on Andrew Nicholson in 2016? Five? Six? Thanks, Chuck (SBU '02)

Chuck,

There will be a few, for sure.

For those of you who don't know, I went to St. Bonaventure from 2003 through 2007, graduating with a journalism degree. I also grew up near the campus, so have been a life-long fan of the basketball team.

Nicholson, who has spent his entire career with the Magic, has started to emerge this season, getting a chance to play under new coach Scott Skiles. As a fellow Bonaventure alum, it's been fun to see him getting a chance to play. Hopefully it continues.

Tim, now that we see the Nets, Lakers, 76ers and others in full rebuild mode, what can we expect with trades etc, as the salary cap resets this summer? What failed teams are about to sell out and rebuild ?

This is a question that, frankly, no one has an answer to right now.

The NBA standings this season are as bunched up as they've ever been. First place through 10th place in the Eastern Conference is separated by just two games -- and first through 13th is separated by only five.

Things aren't much different out West, where third through 11th are separated by only four games. With so many teams being bunched together, I think it's more likely that at least for another month we're not going to see a lot of moves, because a lot of people around the league are pretty confused about where the league is at right now.

Head to head vs Boswell. Is your conditioning good enough to out last him?

Given Boswell has the conditioning of Lance Armstrong during his peak PED-using days on the Tour de France, I've got my work cut out for me doing that.

A lot of the bottom dwellers in the east last year are off to hot starts, which teams are the most legitimate?

If you're just talking teams that missed the playoffs, then it's both Indiana and Miami. But while Miami was expected to make it back into the postseason assuming they had their stars be even remotely healthy, Indiana has been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA.

Paul George is the MVP of everyone else, since Stephen Curry is miles ahead of the pack, and the switch to smallball has looked like a stroke of genius so far from Larry Bird. As far as legitimacy, though, I do have some long-term concerns about how sustainable this Pacers experiment is. They're so far second in the NBA in 3-point shooting. Can they keep that up all season?

What can Nets possibly do to get out of this hole that is anything else ever seen?

They can be patient, and they have to be.

The Nets took a big swing in going for a title shot in the 2013-14 season, and they're paying the price now. They aren't going to dig themselves out of this hole by doing anything rash and quick to make a temporary fix now.

Lebron James one v one against Andrew Nicholson. How badly does Nicholson win?

Nicholson wins every time. LeBron doesn't even score.

How many wins will the Knicks get and will they be in the playoffs?

The Knicks will probably win in the mid to high 30s. I don't see any way they make the playoffs, barring significant injuries or an unexpected trade.

However, that doesn't matter. This whole season was about one thing: the development of Kristaps Porzingis. We're only one month in, and Porzingis already is showing signs of being a star in the NBA. That makes this season a success for the folks at Madison Square Garden regardless of their record.

Since the Spurs and Warriors won't meet until January, who is the better team overall?

This answer has to be the Warriors, given that they still haven't lost and we are now into December.

However, the Spurs are the second best team in the NBA, at worst. They have by far the second best record in the league at 18-4, and are probably the one team that the Warriors would have a little awe/fear factor of in the playoffs at this point (though even that might be giving San Antonio a little too much credit, or Golden State not enough).

All I want is to see Golden State and San Antonio square off in the Western Conference Finals. Sign me up for seven games of that, please.

He's likely the best shooter in NBA history, and his ball-handling skills don't stink either. His parents seem very nice and smart, and are only exceeded in their like-ability by his wife, and especially by his daughter, who consistently wins the internet whenever her parents let her be on camera, post-game. Is Steph Curry of the human race?

It's pretty good being Stephen Curry right now, isn't it?

Tim, do you think the Nets make a trade for Jennings or Bledsoe perhaps? Or someone who can make a 3 consistently?

I don't see how the Nets could get their hands on someone like Eric Bledsoe, given they don't have a whole lot to actually give the Suns in return for him.

I think a Brandon Jennings trade might have made sense if the Pistons were struggling and they wanted to get something back for Jennings -- who will almost certainly leave this summer as a free agent to try and be a starter elsewhere, given Reggie Jackson is now entrenched as the starting point guard in Detroit now. But with the Pistons playing well and in desperate need for scoring off their bench, Jennings looks like a perfect fit for their second unit -- as opposed to being sent to the Nets in exchange for someone like Jarrett Jack.

What does the future hold for Jimmer? Will he find a spot in the league of keep bouncing around like he has been of recently? Where do you see his career in 2 years? 4 years? Etc.

Jimmer is a fun player, but he's also one that doesn't seem like he's ever going to be good enough to have a career in the NBA. To me, his path should take him overseas, as he could go be a superstar in the European leagues and really make a ton of money.

He's too good for the D-League and not good enough for the NBA, which makes his current choice -- to stay in the D-League as opposed to going to Europe -- a curious one.

What do the nets have to do either this year or in the offseason to at least become an above .500 team? Who would possibly come to Brooklyn?

Plenty of players will come to Brooklyn. The Nets play in New York, a place everyone is interested in, and they play in an arena that guys like and are building a brand new practice facility in the city that will be done in February that should help, too.

Assuming Brook Lopez is healthy, a core of he, Thaddeus Young and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a solid foundation for the Nets to being building on to return to respectability. They're going to have a ton of money to spend this summer, and will be first in line to speak to Mike Conley -- especially if Lionel Hollins, who still has a strong relationship with his former Grizzlies floor general -- is the coach. But I could definitely see the Nets as a destination for DeMar DeRozan, and could also see them chasing after Nicolas Batum. But I'll be very surprised if they can't get some guys to come play for them and be back over .500 next season.

Do you think the way the Devils have "rebuilt" so quickly affected Harris decision on Sixers too?

No, I don't think so. I think the Sixers have faced an avalanche of criticism from all sides -- most particularly in the wake of the incidents surrounding Jahlil Okafor -- and Harris decided that he needed to change directions.

As I wrote in my story on the website today -- http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2015/12/08/the-76ers-appear-to-be-changing-their-tune-on-trust-the-process-mantra/ -- the league office was involved here. Sam Hinkie hasn't told a lie since taking over, and has done exactly what he told everyone involved he was going to. But you have to have a strong stomach to follow the plan he's laid out, and I think it's clear at this point his bosses have had a change of heart.

Who gets fired first, BK or Hollins? Or better yet, will they get shipped out together? Thoughts!?!? Thank you BrooklynASAP

For anyone who didn't know that I came to The Washington Post after covering the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA for the New York Post for the past four years, you'll have figured it out after this chat.

I'm not sure what anyone expects Lionel Hollins to do with this roster. The Nets knew they weren't going to be very good, and they're not. He's doing what he can with what he's got, and he should deserve some credit for giving Rondae Hollis-Jefferson a big role (though RHJ is now unfortunately out for a couple months).

As for King, he and ownership swung big, and they missed. Now they're paying the price.

Who are the bottom 5 coaches in the NBA? The subject comes to mind because I just saw Fred Hoiberg make Tim Floyd look like the Einstein of the hardwood.

The Bulls have a top six record in the league at the moment, so I would say he's doing something right. And I would give Hoiberg more than one month on the job, if I were you, before you decide he doesn't know what he's doing.

Did his talent get sucked for the Monstars or something?

Danny Green has undoubtedly had a slow start, shooting under 30 percent from 3-point range so far. But you know what? The Spurs are still 18-4. Imagine how scary they'll be when Green gets it going?

Remember when I said we need to see a Warriors-Spurs Western Conference Final?

Why does Billy King still have a job? As a diehard Net fan it is almost impossible to justify anything he has done. I'd rather be in Philly's position, at least they stand a chance in the future.

It's impossible to compare Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Yes, the Sixers are undoubtedly in a better long-term situation, but both teams had entirely different objectives at the time they made the decisions they made. Context matters.

Is Charlotte's start to the season a flash in the pan or do you see them making a run for a playoff spot in the East?

The Hornets have a terrific coach in Steve Clifford, who they wisely gave a contract extension to recently, and Nicolas Batum has bounced back very nicely after a down season last year in Portland. I'm guessing he was more injured than anyone ever let on.

I don't really see the long-term path to being a contender at the top of the East here, but I do see a team that can be a consistent playoff threat. And given where Charlotte has been since returning to the league a decade ago, that might not be the worst path to take at the moment.

Does the thunder need to make a trade to get more of a two way wing? And who could they target

They've needed a two-way wing for years. The problem? So does every team in the NBA.

We'll have a better idea of who is available as we get closer to February's trade deadline.

Just as long as you don't take 20 minutes in between 500 word essays that answer the question, we'll all be very happy.

Might be closer to five minutes than 20, but I'm doing my best. My dog has interrupted things a couple times.

The Spurs have a great record, but haven't really played well (to my eyes, anyway). Are they really the second best team in the West? And are they a legitimate threat to the Warriors?

Yes, they are. And yes, they are -- at least as legitimate as any threat is to the defending champs at this point.

When does the season begin? Why do they have such a long 82 game preseason before they start a 2 month 16-team elimination tournament?

Why do they play 16 preseason NFL games before a five week, 12-team elimination tournament?

Where do you rank Kobe among the all-time greats? Is he above or below Larry Bird?

I had a great discussion about this with someone recently.

He's well below Bird, for sure. In some order, Jordan, Bird, Magic, Russell, Wilt, Duncan, LeBron and Kareem are in front of him. After that? He's in a big group of guys that includes people like Shaq, Hakeem and Jerry West, among others. He's one of the 15-20 best players of all-time, for sure.

Contenders or Pretenders. Also do Wittman and Grunfeld survive the season and what is Ted's long term plan?

These are better questions for my friend Jorge Castillo, our outstanding Wizards beat writer. If the Wizards survive this month, Wittman will survive the season, and I don't see any situation where Grunfeld would lose his job midseason. I know yesterday we saw the Sixers do something front office-related, but that normally doesn't happen.

I picked the Wizards to make the Eastern Conference Finals in the preseason in my old job, and I still think they can. But John Wall hasn't played up to the standard I thought he would so far, and they've had a ton of injuries. Like almost the rest of the league, it's too early to tell yet either way.

There has been some idle chatter about whether 'Melo now would be worth sacrificing the possibility of Durant later for. My question is: in general terms, how good a bird would the bird in hand have to be for you to sacrifice the Durant birds in the bush for?

This is basically what being a GM in the NBA is all about: weighing the odds. That being said, given how long the Wizards have gone down this path, I'd be floored if they didn't give themselves a chance at Durant this summer. There will be plenty of possible moves to make after he makes his decision, either later this offseason or during next season.

Sure the guy can play, but why the colossal ego?

I don't think we're talking about the same John Wall. Certainly not the one that plays for the home team.

I love MKG and I love the way the Hornets are playing this year but I'm not sure if the two are compatible.

What the future holds for players like MKG, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Tony Allen -- all wings who can't shoot very well -- as the league moves to more and more of an emphasis on spacing the floor and shooting will be fascinating to watch.

Several of the teams expected to be near the top in the West have gotten off to poor starts -- notably, the Rockets and Clippers. Do you expect them to come back and be real contenders in the end?

Given how topsy-turvy everything is, there's no reason to think they can't become contenders again. But there are also clear flaws there that can't be overlooked at this point.

Both will likely make the playoffs and maybe even win a round, but they both seem a step behind Golden State, San Antonio and even Oklahoma City.

If they go 82-0 but lose in the playoffs, the season is a complete failure, no?

They're not going 82-0.

Will Hoiberg improve or stay awful? Why the influx of college coaches given how poor the record is?

Not sure where all the Hoiberg hate is coming from today.

Brad Stevens was a terrific hire as a college coach, so now other teams are seeing if they can find the next one. I'm giving Hoiberg and Billy Donovan more than a month before I make any decisions on what they can do on the sidelines. You'd be wise to do the same.

Arguably, Green might be the most important player in the league right now -- at least in the non-star category. Who are two other players who aren't all-stars that carry outsize importance for their teams?

I might steal this question for a column at some point later in the season. Draymond won't qualify after this season, though. He has to make the All-Star team after the way he's been playing.

I don't know exactly how to define "outsized" importance, but two guys I'll put in this category are Danny Green and George Hill.

If and when Lionel Hollins does get fired from the Nets who would be the best coach to replace him?

I answered this earlier, but I'm not sure what more people want from Hollins.

I wrote about the emergence of Shane Larkin this morning. He has really overachieved for Brooklyn this year and with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out indefinitely could you see him developing into an early Sixth Man of the Year candidate ?

Shane's had a nice start for the Nets -- he's shooting 50 percent from 3-point range and playing well -- but no one is winning Sixth Man of the Year on a team that doesn't make the playoffs, or even come that close.

What's behind his struggles? Does he just need better point guard support? I'm confused.

If Anthony Davis is struggling, I'll take his struggles. The guy is averaging 24/11/3 while shooting almost 36 percent from 3-point range.

The problem for the Pelicans has been they've had a ridiculous number of injuries, including to Davis himself, that have put them in a hole that's going to be very difficult for them to climb out of.

If colleges had all-star teams manned by NBA players, which school would win a tournament of those teams? (And would Georgetown still lose in the first round?)

Without taking too much time to think about this, I don't know how anyone would beat Kentucky, though schools like Duke, North Carolina and UCLA could probably make things interesting.

If anybody wonders why the NFL is so much more popular than any of the other sports (even with all the awful concussion issues), it is because their games actually mean something and make me want to watch. It is just very hard to care about the NBA or NHL in December when there are so many games left and 16 teams make the playoffs anyway.

Given how many people are paying attention to the NBA right now, I'd say the league is doing just fine. The 82-game schedule allows team to separate themselves over the course of the season. Look at the Warriors -- they now have a legit chance to do something that only the Jordan Bulls have done: win 70 games.

Sure, we could have the season be a single-elimination tournament. But if you like that, just go watch March Madness.

Thank you so much to everyone for getting involved here. Had a lot of fun with this. Looking forward to seeing you all back here at 1 p.m. next week to do it again.

Thanks!

In This Chat
Tim Bontemps
Tim Bontemps is The Post’s National NBA writer. He is former New York Post staffer and proud St. Bonaventure alum.
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