Chat with Ric Bucher
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN NBA reporter Ric Bucher stops by to give you his thoughts on the latest news from the court.
Bucher joined ESPN in January 1999 as a San Francisco-based senior writer covering professional basketball for ESPN The Magazine, and as an NBA reporter for SportsCenter and NBA 2Night. Bucher also contributes to ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Bucher Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Ric Bucher (1:01 PM)
Greetings, chatters. It's been a while. Hope you like what we've done with the place. By the way, that's not asbestos falling from the ceiling, those are little gray tufts of knowledge.
Joel (Santa Cruz)
What is the heck is going on with the Warriors sale?
Ric Bucher (1:03 PM)
From what I've heard, the presumptive owners are looking for additional investors to reduce the amount of cash they actually have to put up. The problem is, they're promising zero input from the minority partners. That's the way former owner Chris Cohan ran it and no one wants to put money up to be part of that. But the sale will go through eventually.
What happened to the Carmelo interested in coming to Orlando talk from a few months back? Some of that Magic depth has got to be much more appealing that what most other teams could offer. Add in lack of state tax and the warm weather..... whats not to love? Otis has got to know, deep down, that even with all their talent, they're still a great player away.
Ric Bucher (1:05 PM)
It was just talk. Melo wants to go to a major market. Everything I've heard is that Chicago is his first choice but the Bulls don't want to pay max or near-max money to four guys and they already have Rose, Noah and Boozer. Interesting tidbit: I keep hearing La La, Melo's wife, isn't as crazy about going to New York as has been advertised. And rest assured, La La will have a big say in where Melo ends up.
When are the Sixers going to trade Iggy? This needs to happen for us to contend right?
Ric Bucher (1:06 PM)
A lot more than that has to happen. I'm hearing Portland and Dallas are the likeliest options for Iguodala right now, not Chicago, as has been advertised. Bigger question: Does Doug Collins last the year? I'm going to say health issues are going to force him back to TV sooner rather than later.
Hi Ric! Impressed by the Warriors 3-1 start or is it too early to have faith yet? Thanks!
Ric Bucher (1:08 PM)
Not too early. Team has its flaws but the vibe and demeanor has changed quicker than I ever could have imagined. GM Larry Riley has done a very good job of changing a culture that was horrific for most of last season.
Hey ric, love your work! Questions abounded abut how the heats O will click, and still we wonder how good they can be, but they have absolutely dominated on D. If they keep it up ,whats stopping us from winning it all?
Ric Bucher (1:11 PM)
Their defense is what really makes them scary. My reason for doubting the Heat can do it their first year out is simply depth. Stars can get you great regular-season records. Role players end up winning a game here and there in a series and that makes the difference in wearing a ring or coming close.
Will the Pacers have a winning season before 2020? The roster never seems to improve and Jim O'Brien will never be confused with Phil Jackson.Other than an improving Roy Hibbard is there anyone on this team that should be?
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
I've yet to figure out what the Pacers' blueprint is. What kind of team are they trying to build? When that's not apparent, the prospects of success any time soon are pretty limited.
John Wall (DC)
I'm already better than 95% of PGs in this league.
Ric Bucher (1:13 PM)
Slow your roll there, John. I believe Stephon Marbury said something similar his rookie year.
Fans in Portland (including myself) are really down on Nate's coaching abilities. Yet the national media seems to love him. What are you guys seeing that we aren't?? His offense is horrible!!
Ric Bucher (1:14 PM)
Can't speak for all national media, but your team is incredibly resilient to a slew of injuries and other turmoil. Fact is, you don't have a player who consistently commands an offensive double team and offenses become a lot harder to construct when you don't.
What do you think of the Knicks so far? One great win and one good win and played the other two tight with a shot to win both
Ric Bucher (1:16 PM)
They've been about what I expected. Certainly they've had a talent upgrade. But what's the pecking order? And can Amare make other guys better, not just get his own numbers? Those are the things that will decide whether the Knicks make the postseason or not.
Bukes, one of the few ESPN NBA analysts who I actually respect: what do you make of Favors thus far, and are the Nets rethinking trading him for Melo?
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
Favors was expected to be a project. He's contributing more early on than anyone expected. But the Nets have never changed their stance. If Den is willing to trade Melo and Melo is willing to sign an extension with NJ, they trade Favors and almost anyone else to get that deal done.
Juanito (El Monte, CA)
Melo to the Clips!! Say it IS so RB!
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
This is who I'd be talking to if I were Denver. Strangest part for me: Nuggets aren't willing to include Billups and make a blockbuster deal. Makes no sense. If you're dealing Melo - and you have to deal Melo - you're starting over. Billups doesn't do anything for you in a rebuilding situation.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
How long do you think the Cavaliers will wait until they declare this a "rebuild" period vs. a "transition" period and start giving minutes to guys like Christian Eyenga, Samuardo Samuels and maybe Manny Harris? And do you have any idea how they'll use that trade exemption to rebuild? Is there only hope to take on bad contracts while obtaining draft picks with that exemption?
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
They need to be out of the playoff picture before that happens and the East is so mushy after the first 6 teams it could be a couple of months before that happens. If I'm the Cavs, I wait to see where the new cap is before I make any major moves.
Buying Brand's inspired play so far?
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
Not if it doesn't produce Ws.
Any teams surprising you so far? Bucks?
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
Surprised by them, yes. Bogut saying his arm may not feel right all year is very troubling. I had them as taking another step forward this year, but he has to be the second-best center in the east for that to happen. They go as he goes.
Everyone sees when Kobe has a huge game like the other night, but do MVP voters notice things like he has already sat out two 4th quarters of games?
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
No. I'm afraid too many MVP voters -- and the voters on most awards -- look at stats to determine their picks. That's why being the top steal getter or shotblocker garners so many DPOY votes. Even though those stats can be a reflection of bad defense.
Thibs sitting Rose/Noah last night for the last 9 minutes. What's your take?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
Thibodeau has some old-school tendencies to him. He also played Rose a ton of minutes to win an OT exhibition game, which surprised me. Let's put it this way: he's testing the level of his authority very early on.
As far as being a true PG goes, Deron Williams has to be the best in the NBA right? Rondo is great, but doesn't shoot well, CP3's defense is suspect. Derrick Rose is great but hasn't done it as long as Deron. Or am I crazy?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
I'd put Deron at the top of the PG list, but "true point guard" - not sure what that label means. The labels of positions have become blurred. Deron is still more of a scorer than a pure setup guy.
steve from battle creek (battle creek)
who says no first: dalembert(expiring re-sign for less nxt yr) and j. thompson(young big) to detroit for prince (SF veteran to resign next yr cali kid & expiring) maxiel and summers
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
Blecch. Don't see what that does for either side. I'd look for Prince or Rip to go to a team that thinks it's a contender and hopes to add one more piece. No, I don't know who that team would be right now. Have to think SA will make a move if they think they have a shot.
LakerFan (Los Angeles)
Lakers bench vastly improved can they win 65+ this year?
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
They should be in that neighborhood. The more important thing is that they sustain or build leads. The fewer grinding 4Q minutes Kobe has to play during the season, the better off they'll be in April-May-June.
After watching Al Jefferson toil around here on bad teams, I'm happy that he is getting a chance at a winner in Utah. Is he ready to take the step in being a star? Seems like a 20/10 guy. Nice upgrade over Boozer.
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
Going to see the Jazz live tonight. Glad Jefferson is getting a chance to play on a team that matters. Disappointed he showed up out of shape. In raw tools, he should have more impact than Boozer. But there's been something indefinable missing and he's been around for a while.
mathieu (san francisco)
I don't understand why Denver fears losing Melo next summer without compensation. Melo is likely to take a huge pay hit if he doesn't sign the Denver exception and even next summer a sign and trade will still most likely offer him the most money possible. Your thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
Melo has made it clear he doesn't want to be in Denver anymore. They're not a title contender, with or without him. As I understand it, he has to exercise his player option between the end of the season and July 1 to be traded. Nuggets can't roll the dice on that.
Is there any gravity to the rumors of Vegas maybe getting an NBA, man?
Ric Bucher (1:41 PM)
Will never happen. Las Vegas doesn't want or need an NBA team. That was clear when it hosted All-Star weekend.
Does Lee to Stoudemire actually represent an upgrade for the Knicks? Amare has been terrible so far ...
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
It's a little early for that. But watching Amare rain Js vs. the Bulls made me think two things. One: man, he has that shot down. Two: that isn't going to do a whole lot for the rest of their team.
Is this kid John Wall the real deal? He seems to care about dancing and being a showman.
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
Has real-deal talent. Anytime a player has some shadowy background issues, it can raise questions about character and have no doubt, character counts. But we've all done silly things when we were young that we regretted. You never got a haircut or bought a pair of pants or agreed to a dare that you later said, "What was I thinking?"
Ric, the experts say the Bulls need a shooting guard but I think backup point guard is their most pressing need. Who is out there or could be available that could help the bulls? (seems like Hinrich suffices both of those.. but i digress)
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
They need Luol Deng to be a consistent go-to threat. Not sure his jumper will ever be up to the task. Short of that, they need shooters to space the floor for Rose.
Buying a pair of pants is slightly different than playing in the NBA hoss.
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)
Can Deng increase his trade value with his strong play or are execs pretty convinced he won't be better than he already is? Why not flip Deng for Jason Richardson if he can't centerpiece a trade for Melo? Or does Phoenix say no?
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
Rumor is that Doug Collins loves Deng because he's a Duke guy and would be OK with an Iguodala for Deng/Taj deal. But I don't think Chi does that. Deng simply is a tough sell because he hasn't been able to play up to his contract. Most teams are looking to shed salary, not take it on. Deng, right now, isn't a guy a team considers worth the tax hit.
Paul (SF, CA)
It seems like Monta Ellis is playing a much smarter game now, can he keep it up or is this just an early season illusion?
Ric Bucher (1:54 PM)
Monta is a different guy. Not playing for Nelly and Cohan, who embarrassed him for his moped incident, helps. So does getting married to a police officer. And being passed over as an All-Star. I don't know about playing smart, but I expect him to keep scoring like this all season.
whn will joe d make a move?????? a smart1????? get a big,unload rip or tay!
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
Ownership changes always put a drag on movement. Joe D is in a tough spot right now with his roster. Count me among those who believe he'll figure his way out of it. What bothers me a bit is that he built a phenomenal juggernaut that brought nearly a decade of success. Now they've hit a rough patch and everybody wants to say he doesn't know what he's doing. I respectfully disagree.
Whats up with Hedont?? Is he a true bust now??
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
A notoriously slow starter. Haven't talked to him or been around the Suns yet, but I have to think he'll find his stride in Phoenix. It's a good system for him. But he might be better served coming off the bench or playing as many minutes as possible when Nash is NOT on the floor.
Is contraction a possibility or is Stern just posturing?
Ric Bucher (2:00 PM)
Both. The league isn't going to simply do away with the struggling small-market teams. But I could see them dissolving the worst ones in conjunction with starting a new division in Europe. If you're the Maloofs and you could put your franchise in Barcelona or London, don't you do it?
Nice start by the Hawks. They don't NEED to trade Josh Smith do they?
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
That's going to be a very expensive team in very short order that still isn't good enough to win a title. That's the rub.
with pippen being 1of my all time fav players,i love to watch batum play! how good do u think this guy can get? all star???
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
Don't see Batum as an All-Star -- defensive guys rarely are -- but he's vastly underrated.
Should SVG continue to rotate Anderson and Bass at the 4 and move Shard primarily to the 3? I know it gives Shard less minutes but it allows us to develop the two younger pieces that seem to make the team better as a whole. It also will up the trade value of both players to package with Vinces contract for a big piece before the break. Your thoughts???
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
You're either playing for a ring or showcasing players. Orlando, to me, isn't a title contender, as is. But I don't get the sense they think so.
Would you rather have Melo or Noah on the Bulls? Which one wins more games for the team?
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
It's not that simple. It's how all the pieces fit. I'm not wild about a Melo-Boozer combo at the F spots. Very expensive but still doesn't make you a title contender.
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
That's it for me today. Thanks for all the questions. We'll do it again next week.