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 Fastbreak. Bucher also contributes to ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Bucher Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Ric Bucher (1:02 PM)
Hey everybody. Sorry I'm a couple minutes late. (Was perusing the questions already filed.) Let's get rolling.
Ric who balks at a Gilbert Arenas for Baron Davis trade? Gil is owed more money, Baron is heavier/older.
Ric Bucher (1:04 PM)
Clips do that deal in a heartbeat. Not the Wizards. As much of a distraction as Gil has been, he doesn't have a personality that dominates a team. Baron would not be good for John Wall. I'll leave it at that.
Kevin (Mile High)
Do you think that Miami's poor start will dissuade other stars from taking their talents to one team? Are the chances Melo stays getting any better?
Ric Bucher (1:04 PM)
I have to believe other stars are watching very closely what happens in Miami. But I also sense Melo is committed to leaving no matter what.
Doug (New York)
Hey Ric, how would you grade the job Donnie Walsh has done running the Knicks over the last two years?
Ric Bucher (1:06 PM)
Donnie did a great job of cleaning up an awful cash-strapped roster. But from what I hear, his hands have been tied somewhat on how he re-builds that roster by ownership. I'd give him a B with extenuating circumstances.
darius (evansville in)
celtics played well in the first half very physical almost a little 2 physical but do you think the heat are gonna have this problem the rest of the year
Ric Bucher (1:07 PM)
yes. you can't change who you are. the heat are not a physical team. outside of udonis, they don't have physical players.
Everyone talks about CP3 leaving when his deal is done, how come D-Will doesn't get any talk about where he could end up? Utah is a classic middle of the row team that never really gets all the way to the top
Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
Deron has been smarter and more responsible about it. There are no rumors leaking out because he's not telling friends he's frustrated. Though he is. He'll give Utah everything he has and make a decision when his option to leave is available. I respect that to the Nth degree.
Do you think Miami could be a championship contender if Bosh played like he did in Toronto
Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
Bosh is playing the way he did in Toronto. That's the problem.
Should Miami have signed Boozer to have more of a low-post presence?
Ric Bucher (1:11 PM)
Boozer would have been a better choice, but they still would've lacked shotblocking and issues in matchups with Boston. Length bothers Boozer.
Let's be honest - when it comes to Pat Riley returning to the bench in Miami, it's a matter of when, not if, right?
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
Pat goes to the bench if Mickey Arison makes him go to the bench. Riley knows as well as anyone what he has and doesn't have.
Hawks, they still stink, huh/
Ric Bucher (1:13 PM)
Atl will be judged by the postseason. They've shown us for two years now how good they can be in the regular season. Lack of discipline and mental toughness crushes them in the postseason. Are they more disciplined/mentally tougher now? We'll see.
Tony (Pt Jeff, NY)
Melo-- NY has stoudamire and less chips to move, NJ has youth movement, chicago has potential but less chips to let go-- who does he choose? THIS or NEXT season?
Ric Bucher (1:15 PM)
I'm told he wants to play out this season in Denver, rather than be dealt. That way the team he's joining hasn't been weakened by trade. I've heard conflicting whispers - one that he's set on NY, the other that Chi is really where he wants to play.
Tajh Williams (Atlanta, Georgia)
Will the Heat make it to the Eastern Conference Finals?
Ric Bucher (1:16 PM)
The way they look now, it could come down to who they play along the way. I'm really interested to see them play against Chicago. Boston's D is Thibodeau's making and the Bulls have the exact strengths that hurt Miami.
Michael C. (Westport, CT)
What would you advise Carmelo to do? Stay or leave?
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
I would advise him to look at what Kobe nearly did going to Chicago and what LBJ, Bosh and even Amare are experiencing. I don't know exactly why he wants out of Den so badly, but the grass is not always greener. There are far worse organizations in the league.
Call me bold Ric but I would go as far to say OKC takes out the lakers in game 7 of the Western finals to face Boston in what would be a much anticipated NBA Championship series?
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
that's not bold, it's indefensible the way the two teams are playing right now. i like OKC but they're going through some growing pains.
I agree with much of what you said about D-Will vs. CP-3, but do you really think CP-3 has a better supporting cast? Millsap and Jefferson are probably better than West and Okafor...
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
I don't think it's even close, especially when you factor in the psychological part: NO reloaded as best they could at CP3's behest. Utah let a bunch of pieces walk for nothing. CP also is coming back to a frontline he's played with before. Deron isn't dialed into Al at all yet.
Tony (Pt Jeff, NY)
Would you full court press Wade and LeBron to make them work and wear down using your team depth as your advantage against their star talent- IF you were the opposing coach?
Ric Bucher (1:21 PM)
Quite the opposite. Forget offensive rebounding and get back. If they're not flying in transition, they don't have a go-to offense.
Daniel (Somewhere over the Rainbow)
Hi Ric! There's been a lot of talk here about NOLA looking to deal for Iggy. Now assuming the deal is Thornton, Pejas contract, and picks...would this really improve the Hornets? Isn't Iggy just a better version of Ariza? Thanks!
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
Funny, how come Utah isn't talking about making a deal? But I digress...Iggy is similar to Ariza. But imagine CP3 on the break w/Iggy on one side and Ariza on the other. Yikes.
TY (NEW ORLEANS)
Hello Mr. BucherDo you think it's time for Pat Riley to coach the team?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
Have to be honest: hearing Spoelstra talk about how they have to come together and what the process is like to win a ring, I thought, "How does he know?" And I have to believe there were guys in that room thinking the same thing.
Do you see the Blazers still being a top 4 team in the west even with brandon roy and his ailing knee?
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
Top 4 record, possibly, but only because the west is so evenly matched after the Lakers. Making it to the second round? No.
You may want to suggest to the 'producer' of your debates with Broussard that a "Who won the debate" poll be added at end. I'm sure you want to know who the consensus winner is!Haimona
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
Those debates seem to be taken a little too seriously already.
Why do I turn the ball over so much? I'm usually always in the Top 10 in the league.
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
Because you lost the best hands on your team to Chicago and you're having to work twice as hard at both ends because you don't have any perimeter shooters or defenders. But you knew that.
Hey Ric, two parter involving Sixers. Is 18 and 8 enough to make Elton Brand tradeable? Where will AI2 end up as it only hurts Holliday/Turner's chemistry if Turner comes off bench?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
Not with that contract or how he's getting them. Brand is getting his numbers and his team is losing. Elton is one of the nice guys in the league, but that has been the case for most of his career.
Scott (Simsponville, SC)
Dominating performance by the C's over the Heat last night...I can't begin to imagine what Boston will be like once everyone is healthy again. Are they the best team in your opinion right now or is it the Lakers...?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
I picked the Lakers by a scoonch over the Celtics at the start of the year. When I look at how Boston has played and the fact they'll be adding Delonte West soon and then getting back Kendrick Perkins...well, let's say I may re-visit my pick in a month or so.
Tyler (east longmeadow)
How much of a difference will the return of mike miller have on the heat?
Ric Bucher (1:31 PM)
he will help. but he won't make them tougher and i doubt he'll stop dwade from gambling on D or get lebron to stop taking defensive plays off. or fix the trouble wade and lebron have working off each other.
I agree with you that Deron Williams is the best PG in the NBA for this reason: Deron has led the Jazz to the playoffs in 4 of his 5 seasons. Chris Paul has only been to the playoffs twice in those same 5 years. Raheem Morris of Tampa Bay said it best, "Stats are for losers, so you (Hollinger) keep looking at stats and we'll keep looking at wins."
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
This should be my last post on this: I'm not against stats or deeper analytics. They can be very valuable. But they have to be viewed in context and they are a small piece of the pie. I actually believe the psychology of how GMs/players/coaches relate and work together has more to do with creating winning formulas than having guys who contribute X no. of rebounds, points, FG pctage, etc. But that's me.
Latest on Iggy. Do you think he is going anywhere? What kind of compensation do the Sixers want in return?
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
I keep hearing Portland and Dallas are the best possibilities because those are deep-pocket teams not afraid to take on another big contract to get a smidge better. Don't forget the new CBA is coming. That's putting a drag on deal-making.
What are your thoughts on Big Baby? It seems like he always shows up for big games when they need him.
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
Both Big Baby and Nate are making significant contributions. Big Baby, especially, without the ball. Those are the kind of role players Miami does not have and the kind you need to win a championship.
John (San Jose)
New GS Warriors owners approved today. Does the change lead to good things for the Dubs?
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
I'll be interested to see. Pick up a copy of "Hit and Run," about Peter Guber, one of the owners and how he made his money in Hollywood. I don't know the man and I judge people by my experiences with them, but let's say I haven't been blown away by all I've heard about Lacob or Guber so far.
Wouldnt Melo be a moron to accept a trade, even if it was to a place he wanted to go? Why go to New Jersey for example, for Favors & Harris, when he could just wait 8 months and be teammates with those same guys?
Are you worried about Blake Griffin getting ruined by the Clippers way? Del Negro seems way over his head and Baron is killing Griffin's growth.
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
Del Negro isn't one of my concerns, it's the organization overall and the lack of leadership. As good as Blake is and committed to getting better, who sets the bar for him? You need veteran pros who know what it takes to win consistently. Clippers have no one like that on their roster.
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
(Hope this is working again. Had a system freeze there for a minute.) Melo doesn't have a no-trade. If someone is willing to trade for him knowing they might only have him for the rest of the season, he has to go. Crazy as this sounds, I've had this tossed up to me by several different sources: if the Lakers could get him for LO and Bynum, do they do it? Long term I'd say yes, but it could cost them a ring this season. Would be a tough, tough decision.
All the D-Will versus CP3 talk... but shouldn't Rondo really be added to this discussion. He lacks Deron's sweet stroke and CP3's efficiency, but he has his own bag of tricks too. Or is his success due to being surrounded by so many greats?
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
That's why at the start of the debate I suggested there's a top 4 PG group: Deron, CP3, Rose, Rajon. They have different strengths and weaknesses. Broussard doesn't see Rose and Rajon in the conversation. That's why we debate.
Have you been impressed by Evan Turners play thus far?
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
Mixed reviews, actually. He hasn't been as bad as he was in Summer League - which was pretty bad - but he was picked ahead of some guys who have shown far more promise.
paul pierce mocking lebron via twitter after the game - in the big scheme of things, smart move or not?
Ric Bucher (1:48 PM)
it's not new territory for paul. i thought it was funny and, in some ways, deserved. but i'm old school. it's november. it's one game. say it among your teammates or friends. or to the world after you've eliminated the guy in the playoffs. not now.
What happened to the momentum Milwaukee built up heading into this season? Why the slow start?
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
Couple of reasons: they added some guys who are talented but don't fit the culture that made them so successful last year. Also: Bogut isn't the same since the injury. He was a top 2 C in the East and, in some ways, maybe the best. When he said his arm might not be right all season recently, I thought, "Uh oh."
Anyone in the league that wants Rip Hamilton?Seems like Jazz, OKC, or someone could want him. Please.
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
That's a big contract for a guy who is a sixth man for a really good team these days. and did i mention a new CBA is coming?
what can fix the clippers organization?
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
only one thing: a new owner. or an owner with an entirely new mindset.
David (Cleveland, OH)
How bad is the Cavs season going to be? So far, it hasn't been too bad...
Ric Bucher (1:54 PM)
I expected them to be around .500. that team has better players than it's ever been given credit for. and i had someone say the other day that the pieces there actually may have fit lebron better than those in miami. not sure i'd go that far, but there were a lot of elements that allowed lebron to be lebron in cleveland. think of it as the group that was around AI in philly when he went to the finals. guys who sacrifice their games and egos to benefit the star.
Cowherd opened both barrels up on Wall. Apparently, he wrote him off after five games (and one triple double). Do you agree with his insane ramblings?
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
I love Colin and he's one of the smartest, most creative guys on radio. But somebody is giving him really bad info on the NBA. He has killed Derrick Rose as well for things that could not be further from the truth. But he has to be smart about every sport. I have my hands full keeping tabs on one.
Buch what's your take on Leonsis as an owner up to this point? You covered Washington basketball so I figure you'd have a pulse on this.
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
I like every single thing he has done. Couldn't handle the Arenas situation better. Exact opposite of how Chris Cohan handled Monta Ellis. Hasn't overreacted in re-building the team or front office. Has shown patience. but look at the caps. the man clearly knows what he's doing.
How do you see t-mac progressing right? he showed some flashes during the atlanta and charlotte game..he seems to be improving, is it possible teams like miami, lakers, celtics, or perhaps even magic make a move on him if he shows his old self and keep coming off the bench?
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
I could only dream of having a fan comparable to the fans TMac has. They simply do not let go.
How much longer do you think the Lakers bench will be able to keep it up? Is it just a streak or will they keep putting up almost 30 a night?
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
no reason they can't keep it up. big credit to steve blake on that. they have at least two guys who could start on most teams, maybe three. hard to deal with after you've been pounded by that first five for eight minutes.
do you think the bulls should go after T prince and move L deng to sg.?
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
i think they should go back and get sefolosha from OKC. no, tay and deng on the floor means teams would be gang-tackling rose once he stepped inside the key.
Ibrahim (Copenhagen, Danmark)
LeBron James: "For myself, 44 minutes is too much. I think Coach Spo knows that. 40 minutes for D-Wade is too much. We have to have as much energy as we can to finish games out." - WOW, can you imagine Kobe Bryant complaining about playing too much?
Ric Bucher (2:03 PM)
Absolutely astonishing remark. I'm not sure LeBron understands that that qualifies as second-guessing your coach, but it does. Almost as astonishing as finding out Denmark is spelled with two As. Who knew?
Joel (Grand Rapids MI)
Please tell me the Pistons are fixable. Who should he deal and for what players?
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
You need to get your ownership situation straightened out first. You're in a holding pattern til then. I believe in Dumars and his staff, so I'm going to say yes, they're fixable.
How concerned are you with Houston's struggles early in the year. I have felt good about all their games except Golden State and Washington.
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
it's early so i'm loathe to say this, but i feel right now i overestimated houston and underestimated NO. but it's a long season and how yao progresses is huge. CP staying healthy, too.
So you're telling me that Rose is better than Steve Nash? I'll give you Rondo, based on the defense, but isn't it just easier to say that each is a phenomenal player for their team!
Ric Bucher (2:09 PM)
I'm a big Nash fan. And Rose is not the stereotypical PG. But suspend your mindset about what the position is supposed to be and just watch him play. Rose can dominate the game at both ends and has Nash's toughness and commitment to utilizing whatever is necessary to win. I take Rose at this stage without thinking twice. I'm darn near ready to take him over them all, but he still makes some very, uh, young decisions. Not there yet. But soon, very soon.
I could never have CP3's supporting cast and be 7-0 right now.
Ric Bucher (2:10 PM)
That's another thing I like about you, Deron - your modesty. Because you're right. You'd be 8-0.
Twitter- helping sports or hurting sports?
Ric Bucher (2:11 PM)
Clearly helping. Anything that creates a better connection between fans-players is good.
RIC YOU ARE THE MAN. please answer this... what do you think of Eric Bledsoe's play so far? Is he the future for the Clippers?
Ric Bucher (2:12 PM)
Love what he's done so far. But he's another one of those little PGs nobody has scouted yet. The Darren Collisons are great finds, but can they stand the test of time? Six-foot PGs generally don't.
How long until Coach K leaves Duke for the big 3 in Miami? He did have success with them on Team USA.
Ric Bucher (2:13 PM)
Coach K is not going to the pros. That window has closed. And good for him. His rep stays shiny and everyone presumes he would've been a great pro coach.
Ric,What do you think the odds are the rondo breaks the single season assist record?right now he's on pace to break it by more than 50 assists... what do you think?
Ric Bucher (2:13 PM)
Absolutely no reason he can't.
Ric - I know the Paul trade talk has died down but wouldn't a Paul-Rondo deal make sense for both? Rondo is a unique talent but he still hurts the C's in the half court (see Game 7 NBA Finals) and I don't see that changing. At $11 mil for the next 4 years it's hard to imagine the Hornets getting more value for Paul...
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
That was actually discussed at one point a year or so ago. Don't see that being revisited anytime soon.
If the NBA cuts player salaries, does that immediatly apply to all contracts? So, if its a 20 percent cut across the board does Lebron then make around 12 million next year instead of 16?
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
Depends on how they structure it. But a rollback would impact all contracts, so, in a word, yes.
Richard Jefferson (San Antonio)
Do you think I'll keep this up all season?
Ric Bucher (2:19 PM)
Yes. Your offseason work with Pop to re-tool your shot is paying dividends and the revised contract you signed shows great trust between you and the Spurs. As I suggested, relationships sometimes mean a lot more than numbers.
Ric, I'm home sick today. Can we chat NBA all day?......PLEASE?
Ric Bucher (2:19 PM)
We're getting close. I'm giving a little bonus time since I was a few minutes late and there are so many questions queued.
Javier (San Juan, PR)
Hi Ric, I see Miami strugles as a positive for them. No team wins a championship and no person reaches greatness without experiencing some type of failuer aling the way.
Ric Bucher (2:21 PM)
it's the kind of struggles. if a team is playing hard and just not connecting, that's one thing. miami doesn't have any of the veneer of a championship team right now. their biggest problem: enormous expectations they themselves created. that's a huge weight and it has crushed plenty of teams before them.
Craig (Oklahoma City)
Hey Ric. With a new CBA coming up, as you mentioned before, do you think the Thunder make a move for Kevin Love or wait til things are more settled and they know exactly what the future holds? Thanks!
Ric Bucher (2:21 PM)
Love in OKC. Interesting thought. Let me ponder it. My sense is OKC isn't going to do anything dramatic.
Is it just me, or does Lebron James look fat this season?
Ric Bucher (2:22 PM)
It's just you.
Evan (Portland, OR)
Elaborate on Brandon Roy, would you? Because he's been hurting this team WAY before anybody heard about the swelling in his knee. I think the Blazers should trade him and Andre Miller to the Jazz for Deron Williams.
Ric Bucher (2:23 PM)
what concerns me about roy is that his injury is from wear and tear, not an apocalyptic incident. guys don't fully recover, ever, from those kind of problems.
Are the Phoenix Suns done?
Ric Bucher (2:25 PM)
Done as a title contender? Yes.
because everybody seems to forget what T-Mac is capable of doing in the playoffs!!!
Ric Bucher (2:25 PM)
Is this the year the Warriors finally get someone in the All-Star game? Curry or Ellis take your pick
Ric Bucher (2:26 PM)
it's intriguing because, by and large, people around the league love curry far more than monta. but the latter is the far more explosive, dangerous, all-starish player. curry has an eight turnover game and gets a pass. monta has that many and gets hammered for not being a PG. and curry has had a few this season.
Isn't this the absolute perfect role for Nate Robinson? Will Delonte hurt the way he's playing or help him?
Ric Bucher (2:27 PM)
it's a nice problem for the celtics to have.Going five more minutes before I get kicked out of the room. Dry ice is starting to peter out and mirrors are getting smudged.
How can you say NO reloaded, while Utah let pieces walk for nothing? Aside from Jefferson, they also finally added a veteran presence in Bell, shored up the back-up PG with Watson, drafted Hayward, and added big man depth in Elson.
Ric Bucher (2:29 PM)
Al has been a big disappointment, Hayward isn't close to the shooter Korver is, Bell's best days are firmly behind him (Brewer is a better defender at this stage) and Elson is a journeyman. Otherwise, you're absolutely correct.
In all honesty, do you think Coach Spo has any idea what he's doing? It seems he's in way, way over his head.
Ric Bucher (2:30 PM)
There might be one or two coaches in the league who wouldn't be in over their heads with this miami team.
Honestly.... do you kinda want to see the Heat fail too?
Ric Bucher (2:34 PM)
What I really want is for people to recognize how hard it is to win a championship. How many things go into the mix. How there's so much more than just talent. How miami doesn't have a lot of those things. I find nothing more insane than someone predicting a team is going to win multiple championships. I don't know why I find it so insulting, but I do. Winning one is an incredible feat. Look at the Cs. As much talent as they have, as lucky as they've been to find a coach in Doc who fits with his players and guys like Rondo and Big Baby and Perk to fit with their superstars, they have exactly one ring in three years. It may be all they get.
Ric Bucher (2:35 PM)
And with that rant, I'm out of here. I promise I will be more succinct, faster and on time next week so we can plow through more questions. Thank you all for joining me.
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