Since he so highly thought of here & I don't recall this being posted before...

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NBA: David DuPree

Wednesday, March 2, noon ET

USA TODAY's NBA guru is here to answer your questions regarding the 2004-05 season. How will the Pacers cope with the loss of Ron Artest? What will become of the Lakers with Shaq and Phil Jackson gone? Can Kobe Bryant carry them into the playoffs? Does Shaq make the Heat a bona fide title contender? Who will fill the likely power vacuum in the West now that the Lakers have been overhauled? Can the Pistons defend their title? DuPree is here to take your questions.


Athens, Ohio: Hi David, I have two questions. 1. Although the trade between the 76ers and Kings seems to definitely help the 76ers, I think it might help the Kings even more. If Peja is healthy, the trade will leave the Kings with 4 big bodies on the bench (some four out of Songalia, Thomas, Williamson, Skinner, and Ostertag) who can all crash the boards! It seems as though that kind of depth can really wear opponents down, especially in the playoffs. What's your take? 2. I like fast-breaking when the possibilties are there, but I also like good strategy in the half-court when the fast break is not there. Would it help the quality of the game to increase the 24 second clock to something like 28 seconds? Thanks, Gregg

David DuPree: Hi Gregg
I agree that the trade will make the Kings better. They want to build the team around Miller, Bibby and Peja with role players around them. They tried it with Webber for a long time and they could only get so far. They had to do something and this was a bold move. I commend Geoff Petrie for making it. They can do that now and they have depth, as well. I like the deal for both I don't think they need to increase the 24-second clock. It's fine just where it is.


Urbana, IL: Mon 2/28 USA Today NBA page has a picture of Antoine Walker wearing number 88? I thought he wore 8. Has anyone had a number like 88 since Dennis Rodman wore 90 something? What's the deal?

David DuPree: Radmanovic of Seattle wears 77. Any number now up to 99 is okay.

Salt Lake City, UT: MrDuPree, Do you ever think the NBA will change it's logo? If so the only viable option I can think of would be the Jumpman logo...and do you ever think one player will have his number retired in every arena in the league? I know MJ has a banner in Miami as well as Chicago......

David DuPree: There has been much discussion about either changing the logo or going to some sort of alternative. Personally, I don't think they should. I like that tie to the past.

Toronto, Ontario: Why do NBA teams buy out the contracts of players that refuse to report to their new teams instead of suspending them (e.g. Mourning, Payton, Dale Davis)? It would seem to me that if teams took this approach, they would be off the hook for paying the contracts of these players - correct? When are we going to see this sort of practice (i.e. teams giving into ungrateful player demands) stop in the NBA? Quite frankly I am getting tired of seeing players sulk and make demands of ownership until they are traded or released. If players don't want to play for the team they are under contract to/traded to, they should quite basketball or move to another league. Your thoughts?

David DuPree: They can suspend the players, but are ultimately still responsible for their contracts. That's where buy outs come in. The teams don't really want the players in the first place. They usually take them just to make the contracts work as part of the trade. It usually works out best for both sides, believe it or not.

Niagara Falls, NY: I guess it's clear whose team it was in LA last year with Miami leading the East and Kobe's Lakers struggling to make the playoffs. I doubt Kobe will ever win another championship until he becomes more of a team player. Do you think Kobe regrets pushing people out in LA? Do you see him changing his game after this year's wake up call?

David DuPree: Kobe will be fine. The Lakers will rebuild, but that takes time. I'm sure he has grown and matured. Remember, he is still only 24 years old. We all make mistakes when we are young. At least, I sure did.

dallas,tx: is keith van horn will help dallas in the playoffs? if so, how far would they go?thanks

David DuPree: I think he is a great pickup for them. I still don't think they can beat the Spurs in a 7-game series, but they can certainly compete with Seattle and Phoenix and Dallas and everybody else in the West. They have a realistic chance to get to the conference finals.

DFW,Texas: Hey Dave, I remember this years draft was heavy on foreign players....but I can not think of any of these players making big impacts are their many? can you share your thoughts

David DuPree: Beni Udrih of San Antonio who is with the Spurs and Andeson Varejao of the Cavaliers (who came in a trade with Orlando) are the only two who have had an impact so far. Most of the others are still in Europe, but the NBA teams have their draft rights now, so these were moves made more for the future than for right now.

Singapore: Hi Dave, Is the Webber trade really just a salary dump by the Kings? And for the 76ers, I can see where Billy King is going with this: take a chance on Webber's gimpy knee and hope he doesn't bail-out or choke like he did in Sacto, and maybe, just maybe... the 76ers can clear some cap room for their young ones. Am I a cynic or what? Jeff

David DuPree: Hi Jeff
You are a cynic, but nothing is wrong with that. I think this is truly a trade that helps both teams because they were looking for different things and got them.


Twin Lakes, WI.: I am a huge Warriors fan and I was just wondering what you thought about Mullin being able to brinning in Baron Davis for just Dale Davis and Speedy Claxton? Personally, I loved it and I think the back court with Baron and J-Rich is going to be something special.

David DuPree: I agree. I love that back court and with Dunleavy at small forward this team now has a fine nucleus. All it needs is some big guys.

Lumberton, North Carolina: Hello, Mr. DuPree; The L.A. Lakers situation is really perplexing to me. Last week when the trade deadline was nearing, why was L. Odum on the trading block? Is this another player exodous due to Kobe's desire? I think it is or has his mark on it, I really wish someone would trade him. The true problem is Kobe can't deal with structure, he truly needed to have went to college, and with a stern & regimented coach. If this would have occured perhaps he wouldn't be such a spoiled child. What do you think am I off the mark about Kobe and Odum?

David DuPree: You are only off the mark a little bit. Kobe can be difficult to play with, but he wants to be a team player. Odom's name came up in trade talks because after Bryant he is the best player the Lakers have and so whatever teams the Lakers talked to his name came up. Ther're games are similar in that they both need to ball to be most effective and that takes adjusting, too. Of course, Kobe would have benefited from going to college, but they are not going to trade him. He is still one of the best players in the league and the Lakers will be back near the top again in a couple of seasons.

Darryl Madison, WI: Hi David. I hope this gets to you. I am a loyal Knicks fan that was very excited when Isiah was brought in. Now first I know that Scott Layden left a mess and I suspect that the owner does not want to blow up the team and start over. But I do know NY since I grew up there. If you present a plan and be patient we will have patients with you. What is the plan??? How do you get rid of Nazi and his 2 year deal and bring in Rose who is a good player but someone you cannot build around? And with the underachiving Time Thomas why bring in another underachiever in in Taylor? For some late 1st round picks. Remember it was Isiah who said you cannot build thru the draft. Please David help me understand.

David DuPree: I am having trouble understanding all the moves Isiah has made, too. It seems to me that he is floundering a bit. He sure has a lot of players who play the same way. I think you make a great comment when you say Knicks fans will be patient if they understand the plan. I wish I could ease your pain more, but I am at a loss as to understanding the plan just like you.

Orange, Texas: Hey, David. What is your take on the trade that returned Antoine Walker back to the Celtics? I found the trade to be interesting considering the comments made by Danny Ainge and Walker shortly after the trade with the Mavericks. So,who is eating the most crow out of those two?

David DuPree: Neither is eating crow. Walker didn't realize how good he had it in Boaston until he left and Ainge didn't realize how valuable Walker was when he had him the first time. I think it says a lot about both of them that Ainge wanted him back and that Walker was so eager to come back. In the long run, that trade will have as much effect on the Celtics as bringing Webber to the 76ers will have on Philadelphia.

Baltimore, Maryland: Mr. Dupree, the Miami Heat now have Alonzo Mourning on their roster. They now have 2 of the most intimidating Dunkadelic Beast to play in this generation. Will they make the NBA Finals with the team they now have in place.

David DuPree: They are a lot better, but I still don't think they can beat the Pistons in a seven-game series. Detroit just has too many options at both ends of the floor.

Colorado Springs: What do you think of Denver's chances to claim the 8th spot in the WEST with George Karl coaching Terry

David DuPree: I think it is still a long shot for them to get in.

San Antonio, TX: Is Manu Ginobli the most underated player in the league in your opinion? If not then who?

David DuPree: I love Ginobili, but I don't think he is underrated. He made the all-star team, after all, and deservedly so. I think his teammate, Tony Parker, and Mike Bibby of Sacramento are among the most underrated in the league.

Texas: Why on earch did the Spurs trade away Malik Rose? He was a relentless rebounder and a crowd favorite. His battles a few years ago with Najera (when he palyed for Dallas) were all anybody around here talked about.

David DuPree: I wonder why, too, but I also know that Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford don't make many personnel blunders. They got out from under his contract and got Mohammed, who is pretty darn good, in return. In the long run, it could be a good deal, but Rose is a money player and was great in the locker room and his teammates love him. That's where they will really miss him.

Waterville, Maine: I appreciate the work you are doing. Am I the only person in the state of Maine who thinks that the Rockets just may be the team to fear the most as playoffs approach. If they get Sura back (or is it Sura's back)they certainly will be very deep and talented. What are your thoughts on this please. Thanks, Jim in Maine

David DuPree: Hi Jim. Thanks for the kind words. I think the Rockets are on a par with Seattle, Phoenix and Dallas, but they are all a bit behind the Spurs. San Antonio is the team to beat. Sura is one of the most underrated players around and Mike James will really help. Getting James, Wesley and Barry are all great moves and I don't think any team has made better in season personnel moves this year than the Rockets. GM Carroll Dawson should be commended. He made it all happen.

Shiprock, New Mexico: Hey Dave, So, where do you think Gary Patton will go? I know he wants a team with solid playoff contentions. Phoenix Suns maybe?

David DuPree: That's a possibility, bit so is Denver, Minnesota, Indiana and Philadelphia. He can still play, and if he accepts being a third guard, could really help somebody.

New Providence, NJ: Hi Dave - I am a big Jason Kidd fan and I know he plays hard every night, but off the court I wish he would stop being so cagey as to his loyalty to the Nets and whether or not he wants to be traded. What elite players do you think have the best attitudes in terms of appreciating & honoring the lucrative contracts they have been given?

David DuPree: Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan come to mind right away and so does Allen Iverson. That reminds me. You never heard of a Michael Jordan salary dispute did you? He always honored his contracts, even when he was vastly underpaid.

Washington D.C.: With the Wizards finally getting healthy, Is the sky the limit for D.C.'s Finest?

David DuPree: They are a solid team, but I don't see how they can possibly get past the second round. They have difficulty holding leads, closing teams out and their defense has a lot of holes.

Clifton, Virginia: Hi David, I watch the George Michael weekly local sports show, "Full Court Press" and was wondering if everyone ges along as well it appears? The knowledge and chemistry of the panel is quite obvious and entetaining! Also, will the Wizards "swan dive" again and no make the playoffs given the improvement through recent trades involving other Eastern Conference teams? Thanks

David DuPree: We certainly do get along that well. It's fun. Glad you like the show. I think the Wizards will make the playoffs, but as I said earlier, I can't see them advancing very far. They certainly have a solid base to build now, though and I think they will only get better. This team is not a flash in the pan.

Largo, MD: Sup Dave? Pistons, Pistons, Pistons!!!!! Do you think they have their form back? Repeat anyone? Donnell

David DuPree: Hi Donnell
They are indeed back. It was only a matter of time.


Berlin, Germany: Hi David, do you know of any statement (good or bad) from Fratello - while being at his TV job - about a player he is coaching now? If so, do you mean that he has changed his opinion today? What do you think about the trade of Dallas giving away the worker Henderson while Dampier is out too? Any chance Dallas will bring Henderson back, after he was waived? Thanks Henning

David DuPree: Hi Henning
Fratello was pretty fair. He never really criticized players because he knew he wanted to get back into coaching. He was more of a teacher as an analyst as opposed to an opinionated commentator. I thought he was pretty darn good on tv. Dallas could bring Henderson back, but the trade was the right one for them to make.


Northome, MN: Hey David, Do you think the Hornets' moves of trading Baron Davis and giving themselves cap room (moving Mashburn/Rogers for Robinson) after the season will pay off? I like the Baron trade because there were stories that he was doing his own thing (including having his personal trainer stretch him out outside because he wasn't allowed in the facility) and I think the team is bigger than any player, especially one with a bad back. I doubt the topline free agents will come to New Orleans now but I'm wondering what types of players may be going to the Big Easy next year to improve a team in need of some help.

David DuPree: Players will go where the money is and where they will be appreciated and have a chance to win. New Orleans is starting from rock bottom, so it will take at least a couple of years before they are taken seriously by the big time free agents.

Baton Rouge, La: Are there lingering issues between Shaq and Zo? Any guess as to why? Also would that make Zo a possible locker room cancer?

David DuPree: Both players want to win and have proven that they will make sacrifices to do it. They were the first and second picks in the draft one year and had a college rivalry, as well. Both know what is at stake here and aren't going to do anything to mess it up.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Yo Dave, Will J-Kidd move to the T-wolves or stay with the Nets Groeten, Ben

David DuPree: Hi Ben
I wish I knew. If the Nets can make one move next year, with Jefferson coming back and with Kidd and Carter, they could be contenders. That makes it maybe not very wise to part with Kidd. It's all up to him. If he really wants out, the Nets will accommodate him.


Chicago: Hello Dave. I was wondering why Scott Skiles gives Antonio Davis similar minutes to Tyson Chandler, and Chris Duhon similar minutes to Ben Gordon. I love what Skiles has done for the Bulls, but its frustrating when these two recieve inconsistant minutes. Especially when they are both contendors for the sixth man title in my book. Thanks dave, love your work.

David DuPree: They all provide different things and he wants Chandler and Gordon there for the fourth quarters. In the long term, though, they will have to get more minutes, and they will. Davis is a rugged defender and Duhon keeps the ball moving and plays tough defense. Skiles wants to get those two aspects established right away.

San Diego, CA: Hi, My pick for the finals are the Spurs and the Heat. If Tim Duncan wins a thrd championship, is he considered the top power forward ever? If Shaq wins a fourth, is he now in the top tier of centers along with Wilt and Russell? And am I underestimating Kareem by not including him with Wilt and Russell in the top tier?

David DuPree: You are indeed underestimating Kareem and don't forget Karl Malone in the top power forward ever discussion. And one more thing, the Pistons are back and I don't see the Heat being them in a seven-game series.

Perth, Australia: G'day David. Love your Chat. we don't get to see much NBA. How would you asses Dikembe Mutumbo's influence/impact on the Rockets, in Particular Yao?. Cheers Steven

David DuPree: Hi Steven
Mutombo accepts his role and does it well. He is always ready to play, whether it be two minutes or 20 minutes. He is also a good influence on Yao, as is Ewing, because they are teaching him all of the little things and the subtleties of the position.


Chambersburg, PA: In light of the recent incident where a Temple player was instructed to "rough up" a player on the other team; I have a question regarding rough play in the NBA. Has there ever been an incident where a player struck another player and had assault charges placed against him? Is there an unwritten rule concerning filing charges against an opponent? Wouldn't a night in jail cut down "dirty play?"

David DuPree: NBA players leave what happens on the court on the court. Dirty play occasionally and unfortunately, is part of the game. But I find Coach Chaney's actions among the worst I have ever witnessed because he enlisted a young man to do something that was very, very wrong. I don't think any person's career should be judged by one event, but I would have fired him on the spot, or convinced him to retire, but I would never allow him back on the bench. It sends the wrong message all the way around. We talk about what we learned from the brawl in Auburn Hills. If a legendary coach such as Chaney can act like he did in light of that, then it is a sad day for sports. I know I cover sports for a living, but it is still just a game. It is not life or death. There is a way to deal with injustice, perceived or real, and sending a kid out to bodily injure someone is not the way and cannot be tolerated. Period.

DFW, Texas: Hey Dave, before the season Peja from the Kings said he wanted out, and now the Kings trade Webber away in a surprise move......I smell something between the lines....do you have any insight?

David DuPree: They had to chose between the two and they chose Peja.

Michael, Echo Park , CA: Hello again David. As usual you are the only cat I hook up with via chats, because you continue to be the most knowledgeable, discerning and humble. My question is: Hamblen looks way over his head out here in Lakerland, there is no consistent offense, no defensive rotation and no communication out on the wings. What can and should they do?

David DuPree: Hi Michael. Thank you so much. Hamblen is a good coach, but he doesn't have a good team and is trying to build one. They are still feeling their way. I also think they will make the playoffs. As for the future, I think they just have to bite the bullet for now and hope they can talk Jackson into coming back next season.

DC: David, Detroit seems to be finally waking. However, I don't think they can manhandle the Spurs like they did with the Lakers last year. My question is, can the beat the Spurs and Sonics? Darren

David DuPree: Hi Darren
I think the Pistons can beat every team -- except the Spurs.


Pittsburgh, PA: When the Sixers and Bucks can combine for 229 points and a Jeff Van Gundy coached team is reaching triple figures, you know scoring is way up in the league. What do you think is the biggest cause of the resurgence of scoring: Rule changes and emphasis, coaches consciously opening things up (Thank you Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan among others), or some other underlying factors? More importantly, do you think this style of play has staying power and we can put the era of Knick-Heat slowball from recent years safely behind us?

David DuPree: I love your question and I have thought about the same things a lot. One of the biggest contributors to the increase in scoring is the emphasis by officials in making the calls that prohibit players from going to the basket. That opened the game up a lot. That has really helped players like Iverson, Nowitzki and Stoudemire. In the past, coaches thought that if they had inferior talent, the only way to win was to slow the ball way down and make it a defensive struggle. Now they think just the opposite -- get out and run and dare the other team to outscore you. It makes it more of a fun game to watch, that's for sure. I think the new style is here to stay for awhile. When Detroit regularly scores 100 points a game, you know things have changed - and look at San Antonio. The Spurs are looking to run, too.

Lubbock, TX: Who will make the bigger impact for their new teams, Zo to the Heat, or Campbell back to the Pistons? Also, the Pistons have a hectic travel schedule remaining on their west coast trip. Last night a nice win in Portland, but now all the way down to Phoenix, then all the way up to Seattle, then back down to Sacramento: 3500 miles in 5 nights. So how do you see them faring in the next 3 games against the leagues best?

David DuPree: I think the Pistons win 2 of the 3 and let people know why they are the defending champions and aren't about to give up their title easily. I think Zo will have a bigger impact than Campbell.

Beaverton, OR: David, please tell me the Sonics are not stupid enough to let Ray Allen go. They just get back to winning, and they act someone just hit them with the Stupid Stick. Thanks.

David DuPree: They may have no choice. If he gets the right offer from the right team he is gone, or will force the Sonics ionto a sign-and-trade. Personally, I think they will work it out. He is a leader, big in the community and well thought of around the league. Letting a player like that go over a contract dispute would be foolish, I think.

Fairfax, VA: Gilbert Arenas' recent all-star selection was great to see considering he was only a 2nd round pick. Who are/were the greatest 2nd round picks?

David DuPree: Rashard Lewis, Ginobili and Boozer are three pretty good young players in addition to Arenas who went in the second round. I'll have to research more, but remember the draft used to be seven rounds and at one time there were only eight teams in the league.

Fairfax, VA: DD, sorry to correct you, but Kobe Bryant isn't 24...he's 26. I know this cause he graduated high school the same year as me...although he is making millions and is world famous, while I'm sitting here typing anonymously talking about the guy.

David DuPree: First rule of partaking in my chats is that you can never be sorry for correcting me. My math is horrible and you are absolutely correct. The sad thing is I checked before I wrote that he was 24 and just miscalculated. Thanks again. And I appreciate your anonymous typing being directed my way.

West Berlin,Nova Scotia: I would value your thoughtful balanced opinion on a couple of issues.I think the next collective agreement has to include a clause so traded players can't end up with their original team ie:Payton and the Celts.The potential of impropriety or the perception of same could have a very negative effect on the NBA.A rule as simple as a player can't return to a team he was traded from if waived by the team he was traded to for the next year should solve it.Unfortunately an equally vexing problem of players not playing up to their abilities or not playing at all claiming injury a la Carter,Davis and Robinson will be a lot harder to solve because you are dealing with suspicions rather than concrete proof.

David DuPree: I like your first idea, but it happens so rarely I doubt if it will be a collective bargaining issue. But I also understand your point about the potential of impropriety and that is important, no matter how seldom it comes up. As for you second point, the only way to take care of that is to reduce the length of guaranteed contracts which could be a major collective bargaining issue.I say limit guarantees to three years with a fourth year mutual option.

Greencastle, IN: Is the Big Dog done?

David DuPree: Woof! Woof! One would think so, but there is still a place in that league for a guy who can shoot the basketball. I say he will emerge.