The Washington Post

Posting Up: NBA chat with Tim Bontemps

Jan 26, 2016

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

Plenty to dive into today, between the Warriors-Spurs game Monday night, what's happened in Cleveland, the craziness with Blake Griffin in Los Angeles and everything else going on. So, with that, let's get right into it.

Wall made a couple of comments last week about being booed at the free throw line at home games by fans of the opposing team. At this point, he should probably just get used to it because of the makeup of DC (i.e., lots of transplants who have loyalty to their home teams). There's not much point talking about it, it's not going to change. My question is does this effect free agents from wanting to sign in DC? How could someone used to playing in Boston, OKC, or Oracle want to come here and be booed on your home court? Does this kind of thing register with other players?

Here's the thing about guys and where they want to play: guys want to win. If the Wizards have the talent to attract a top player, the guy is going to want to come here. And if the Wizards have a top team, they aren't going to have opposing fans booing their stars like John when they go to the free throw line.

Now, do the Wizards have the talent to attract a top-level player right now? That remains to be seen. My personal opinion is that they do not. But that's a different question entirely.

Who are the best few free agent head coaches available right now in your opinion?

There are a few clear names here. The most obvious is Tom Thibodeau, who may have his detractors but has an unquestioned track record of success with the Bulls, and is one of the preeminent defensive coaches of the past 20 years. He's at the top of any list of guys on the market right now.

Setting Thibodeau aside, some other names to think about:

-- Jeff Van Gundy. Had good runs with both the Knicks and Rockets, and has flirted with leaving ESPN to get back into coaching a couple different times. It seems like this could finally be the year that he takes the plunge.

-- Mike D'Antoni. Revolutionized the game with his thoughts offensively, and hasn't gotten enough credit for his ability to craft a respectable defense. Is now an assistant with the 76ers, but would be a good candidate for several jobs -- including the Wizards if they move on from Randy Wittman at some point.

Is Thibodeau capable of someday coaching an NBA team to a championship or is his way of coaching too demanding on players and has a ceiling (like Scott Skiles)? I debate this all the time with my buddies. Love your work by the way!

No, he's definitely capable of it, in my opinion. He was coaching in the Eastern Conference at the same time LeBron James was playing in it. Not sure any coach is good enough to get around that. Plus, he also got some bad luck along the way injury-wise that kept the Bulls from ever truly getting back to where they were in his first season in charge.

Do the Knicks think he is a long term solution to perpetual six seeds? At what point do they start over with Porzingis?

I think trading Carmelo would have made a lot more sense if they had struggled like I expected them to this season. But with the way the team is playing -- especially since the Knicks don't have their pick this season -- keeping him makes far more sense for now.

The Knicks are going to be building around Porzingis in the future, anyway. If Carmelo helps him make the transition to becoming a franchise player that much easier, all the better.

Will he compete in the All-Star Game three-point contest? Should they just cancel the event and give him the trophy now?

I think he'll be back to defend his crown. And it took him multiple times to win it, so no, I don't think he'll be a lock -- though he is the clear favorite.

Seems like they have many moveable pieces with decent contracts and/or expiring deals.

I think we'll know what the Wizards are going to do after we see how the next three weeks play out. If we get to the All-Star Game and are still outside the playoff picture, then maybe they shake things up. But at this point, it's hard to see how much movement there will be.

Do you believe the Cavs GM in saying they aren't looking to trade Love? If not Love, then who? Perhaps a voodoo doll shaped like Steph?

Are the Cavaliers looking to trade Kevin Love right now? No.

But will the Cavaliers look into trading Love this summer if they don't win the title this season, the outcome most (including myself) expect to happen? I think so. Love is an awkward fit in Cleveland for all of the reasons I spelled out in this piece.

In the end, getting other pieces that fit better for him seems like it would make the most sense for everyone involved. But there is a chance that Ty Lue will find a way to make better use of Love. We'll see what happens.

I believe he was unfairly fired, but do you think of him as a great head coach? Will he be in high demand this summer? Just seems odd the way he wasn't able to get his players to buy in as much as Tyrone Lue.

I don't know if I view him as a great coach, but I think he's a good one, and I think he'll get another crack at the NBA if he wants it.

Here's the thing: Blatt was hired before LeBron got there. If the Cavaliers had waited until after LeBron had gotten there, Blatt wouldn't have been the coach. I spelled that out in this piece.

That's why the buy-in never happened. We'll see if it happens elsewhere.

Do you think Golden State is that much better than the Spurs, or was Popovich just holding back for the playoffs? I can't imagine Golden State is going to get much from reviewing the tape from last night's game come June. I also can't imagine Pop is fine with a 30-point beat down either way.

Golden State had a great night, and San Antonio had an off one. That's it. To me, this game was far more about the Warriors looking like a team determined to protect home court than the Spurs not being anywhere near their level.

That said, Golden State just might be an unstoppable juggernaut, too. We'll see how things go from here, but it's clear the Pistons loss has woken them up. I'm sure everyone in Cleveland, Chicago, Indiana and San Antonio is calling their colleagues in Detroit to thank them for that.

Who are some of the most notable players we could see move before the approaching trade deadline?

At this point, it's hard to know what will happen. Things are so jumbled up in the standings that no one has really separated themselves enough to be sellers.

That said, my best guess: New Orleans' Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon and Phoenix's Markieff Morris.

Are there any names you like thus far? Overrated or underrated players? Is Ben Simmons the best No. 1 pick since LeBron?

You should ask Jonathan Givony and the incredible guys over at DraftExpress this question, but I love Providence guard Kris Dunn. I saw him in Dayton last year in the NCAA Tournament, and he reminded me of Dwyane Wade. I'm not saying he'll be a Hall of Famer, but think he's terrific.

As far as Simmons goes, is he the best No. 1 pick since LeBron? I'm not putting him over guys like Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin yet, or even guys like Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Let's see him get to the league first.

Tim, you and pretty much everyone else agree that the Cavs are the overwhelming favorite in the East. Is that still true given their recent upheaval and general poor play of late? The Raptors have been playing well, and the Bulls still (sometimes) look like a very good team.

Yes, it's still true. No one is remotely in Cleveland's league, barring catastrophic injury issues. As for who is No. 2, I still lean toward the Bulls, but I don't feel good about any of the potential second options.

Yikes! This Blake stuff is nuts. In a situation like this where I would assume the team would want to keep the details of how Blake broke his hand quiet, how would the details eventually get out? That is, who would be person on the inside most likely to leak it (e.g., another player, staff, someone who doesn't like Blake). Second, what do the Clips do from here? I don't think they can keep up with the Spurs and Warriors so what do they do to take the next step? Would they consider trading Blake now, given this incident? He might get in big trouble if this equipment manager decides to sue!

As for who wanted this story to get out, who knows. That could be any number of factors.

This isn't going to dramatically change the arc of the season for the Clippers. They were almost a lock to finish with the fourth seed, and now they'll remain that way.

Do I think the Clippers would trade Blake today? No, I don't. I also don't think they should. If they're going to trade someone, it should be Chris Paul -- he's older and smaller. That said, I don't think they make any big changes until the summer. At that point, though, who knows.

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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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