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 (1:04 PM)
Welcome everybody. Coming to you from San Antonio, where I'll be on the sidelines for Knicks-Spurs tonight. For some reason there's a heavy contingent of New Yorkers in the room today. Let's get to it...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Where will Carmelo Anthony get traded to?
Rapid Fire!!! Bottom line, where does Melo end up?
Brandon brooklyn newyork [via mobile]
Will carmelo anthony be in a knicks uniform by the trade deadline and if he does who you think we gotta give up?
Rich (New Jersey)
What is the most likely scenario for Carmelo Anthony - he's traded to either the Knicks or Bulls or stays in Denver this year?
With Nets/Carmelo talks dying. Means a window for the Knicks. But it begs the question who goes to Denver; Gallinari, Chandler or Fields. Being a fantasy Gallinari owner, I would like some insight!
Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
Huge points to Jeff for incorporating one of this chat's signatures -- the rapid-fire segment -- in his question. Denver doesn't like what NY has offered so far and, I'm told by a couple of sources, doesn't want to deal Melo to NY after the fiasco at Melo's wedding. Nuggets deny that, for what it's worth. In any case, what I understand is that Melo's representatives are the ones who worked extremely hard on making New Jersey happen and are helping explore what other options around the league there might be for him. I can also tell you that while the Knicks are certainly trying to put together a deal that will land Melo, it's spinning them sideways and they're not completely convinced a Melo-Amare nucleus takes them to title contention.
Do you think Randolph will land with the Wolves? Compared to all the baffling moves Kahn has made the last couple of years, giving up a protected first rounder for him doesn't seem that bad.
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
Saw Randolph at shootaround today, sitting by himself glumly, looking like a man just waiting to be sent elsewhere. With what I've heard about this draft, getting AR for a protected first would be a worthwhile gamble. No franchise-changing players are in this draft class and I haven't given up on Randolph making good on his colossal talent.
Chuck (Chicago, IL)
What are the odds the Bulls involve another team in a trade for Melo? I feel like maybe they could get the Clippers to take Deng's contact considering they're a small forward away from being a legit team. Your thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:14 PM)
Bulls aren't driving the bus on getting Melo, Melo's reps are. Chicago would love to have him if Denver would take Deng in a deal, but that's the only way. Booz, Melo, Noah and Rose all on max or near-max deals is too expensive for Jerry Reinsdorf. Looking at the Bulls as is, they certainly need another scorer. Rose is going to get a hernia carrying that team every night. No player in the league has done as much with as little -- which, as you know, is why he's my MVP as of right now.
Why do the Heat insist on playing a traditional pg? I think it only keeps the ball out of Wade or Lebron's hands
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
You knew we'd have to have a Heat question eventually, right? Can't say they play a traditional 1. The ball is in the hands of those two an awful lot. Playing LeBron as the 1 didn't work at the start of the season and has been abandoned. If Wade is the 1, that makes Arroyo or Chalmers a spot-up shooter -- not their strength. Playing either Wade or LeBron there also creates cross-matches defensively that are a major problem. I actually believe they've been pretty good with Chalmers as a "traditional 1," as you say.
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
Let's go rapid-fire for the next 15 since I've been a little long-winded in my first couple of answers. Here we go...
Chris Ngo (OKC, OK)
What trade deals can the Thunder do to make them a better team and win it all? Who can they trade for? Carmello?
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
They can't. Win it all or make a trade that will allow them to win it all right now. Be patient.
Matt (San Antonio)
Why have the Nets crushed Troy Murphy's trade value? Seems like they could have and should have used him better to get more back in a deal.
Ric Bucher (1:19 PM)
Can't play a guy minutes when he hasn't earned them or they make sense for the team. Quickest way to lose the rest of the players.
The Pacers have some expiring contracts, as well as young, talented pieces. What do you see them doing at the trade deadline? Who will they move and what kind of players will they be looking to receive?
Ric Bucher (1:19 PM)
What is this young talent that you speak of?
Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)
Dear Ric, Could you see Abe Pollin getting in the Hall?
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
I've received this question four straight chats, at least. Yes, I see him getting in the HOF.
Walker (Boone, NC)
What do you think of Bill Simmons' suggestion that the Clips should pursue 'Melo?
Ric Bucher (1:21 PM)
They did. Den wants Blake. End of discussion.
ron prov ri [via mobile]
Ric, Could we see 4 Celtics on the bench all star weekend?
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
Depends on how coaches look at KG's time missed. I believe Ray, KG, Rondo and Pierce all deserve to be there.
Greg Oden (Portland)
Is this potential lockout going to help me or hinder me physically and financially?
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
Hinder in both categories. In a big way.
Ric, in the aftermath of the Melo drama, could the Nets put together a Murphy/2nd-round pick for Mayo/Thabeet package? The team needs scoring, Murphy is gone, and Memphis needs to save their $ to pay Gasol and potentially Randolph. What do you think?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
Don't see Thabeet and Lopez playing together. Maybe you don't, either. League consensu: Mayo is a scorer who doesn't score enough to be the main scorer on a winning team.
Taylor Griffin (Hiding in a treehouse)
Psst...remember me? I was the first Griffin brother to play in the NBA. No-one remembers me now. Things looked so good for a year. At least I went to the conference finals - something my bro isn't gonna achieve for a long time! Or did I get cut before then? I forget what happened, i've been crying so much since that time...
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
No, you're in Belgium, working on your game and supporting your bro from afar. Griffin brothers are too tough to ever indulge a crying jag.
Tyler (St Joe's)
How does it feel to know that you will have about 6 followers for this chat today since Simmons is also doing one right now?
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
I seem to be doing all right. But thanks for your concern.
josh in seattle [via mobile]
please tell me that aldridge will get into the all-star game over griffin and love. his team has beat both of theirs and he has dominated love and griffin.
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
Can't tell you that he will, but he should. And Nate has to be a heavy favorite for COY, neck and neck with Rick Adelman.
Josh (Chicago, IL)
Why are the Lakers all of a sudden completely off the radar? Also, are they still the favorites to win the championship?
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
Off the radar? Really? I think you're staring at your microwave, not a computer or TV.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Much like when the Milwaukee Bucks signed Michael Redd to his max contract, the Atlanta Hawks did the same thing last off-season with Joe Johnson. The Bucks and Hawks were almost forced to sign the players to those deals. If I were in charge of the NBA I would limit the amount of dollars and years you can guarantee in max contracts. How would you change the max contract structure in the NBA to prevent the Redd and Johnson max contracts?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
How un-American of you. Why should anybody be limited by what they can make? No one is holding a gun to the owner's heads. Freeeeeee-dom!
Rose is MVP thus far in the season. Agreed?
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
Yup. Just said it. You must've just walked in.
Are the Houston Rockets a "sleeper" team in the Carmelo Anthony derby?
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
Don't see any how or way. He doesn't want to be there and they can't offer the kind of rebuilding pieces Denver wants.
When do you think this Melodrama will be over with? Do you believe it will run down to the wire?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
I do. Denver, if they don't want to make a deal with NY, has to have the pressure mount on Melo that he won't get an extension and he could wind up staying in Denver and having a franchise tag put on him under the next CBA. Only then do they get some flexibility back to make the best deal they can.
Ric - when the bulls are fully healthy (knock on wood), and if they can land a starting caliber 2 guard, they've got to be considered legitimate contenders right? What Rose has done w/that team w/the injuries to Boozer and Noah is incredible.
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
It needs to be the right 2 guard, though. Not just any scoring 2 will get them there. Not really impressed with the way Booz has defended or rebounded, but I'm going to chalk that up to not being in shape from the hand injury.
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
Rapid fire over, will still try to move through as many as I can...
Greg (New York)
Dueling chats: Buch vs Simmons. Who will win?
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
He has a million twitter followers, so I'm going to guess he had to open a second ballroom to accommodate. I look at it this way: Go over there and find out what crazy thing he's saying, then bring it over here and I can tell you why it makes no sense. Get your hand stamped on the way out so we don't charge you twice.
Chris Ngo (OKC, OK)
Any chance that B. Griffin will come back to OKC when his contract expires and build a dynasty in OKC? He doesn't seem to be a guy that requires MAX money in order to win Championships and put OKC on the map to building a dynasty.
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
Would have loved to have seen him there but I can't see how that happens. Way too expensive. And nice of you to give away his money for him. Almost every guy wants as much as he can get. That, by the way, is the misnomer on the Heat guys -- when you factor in state/Canadian tax for Bosh and LBJ, they didn't lose a dime going to Miami.
Ric what "sources" lead you to believe Dwight Howard will walk as a free agent to the Lakers?
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
It wasn't "sources." It was one source. But it was good enough for me to go with it as a tweet. And to be clear: I didn't say he's leaving. I said he is looking to leave if he doesn't win a championship in the next two years and LA (Lakers) is where he wants to go.
Michael C. (Westport, CT)
Didn't Prokhorov show his NBA ignorance by closing the door on Carmelo? What did it accomplish? He thinks the NBA is like any other business, but the fact is it is run by the 10 or 15 superstars that cannot be replaced by anyone else in the world. Your thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
I like what Prokhorov did. Doesn't mean he can't re-open the door if he so chooses, though there's been no indication so far that he will. Also, when it comes to owners treating their NBA team like their other businesses, Prokhorov is at the back of a long line on that one. It's why we're very likely to see a looooonnnnng lockout.
Im Richard Hamilton, what do you tell me to stop me from strangling my coach??
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
Sorry, but as much as I respect Rip's game, he's the one who hasn't handled this well. Fact is, the Pistons have been a better team with Rip on the bench. I understand that he played on teams much better than this and for both he and Tayshaun, this has to be torture to be the last of the old guard, killing days in a rebuilding situation. But Prince has been able to play hard and express his frustration. Rip has been unhappy and played like it.
Is Simmons a guru or what? Carmelo to the Clips and Harrington! Kamen, Al-Farouq and a minnys 1st round in exchange? PULL THE TRIGGER!
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
This is what Simmons never will tell you but is true: he and Kahn are twins separated at birth. They both think out of the box, they try to convince you at times that they can pull off maneuvers that, at face value, don't seem possible or plausible. Simmons has made sidework out of cracking on Kahn. Truth? He IS Kahn.
What changes do the Jazz need to make? Any trade rumblings or moves?
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
Always love hearing from my people in Salt Lake. (Because, as you know, I have so many of them.) I expected Utah to be a team that would try to make a change but I'm told they're standing pat, according to other GMs.
Robie Mo (New York)
Even without the guaranteed money that a max extension would give him, wouldn't 'Melo The Brand' make more money in New York? if he held pat and signed in the offseason
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
That's what he's being pitched. Color me not convinced. Not if the new CBA is as draconian as it's expected to be. And not with Amare already there having already established himself as a savior of sorts. I'm going to guess that's what Melo's reps are thinking, too.
Ric Bucher (1:47 PM)
And Frank, from NY, you didn't see the sign on your way in, obviously, but: sending the same question 50 times doesn't get it answered. Quite the opposite. Besides the fact I already covered that ground at the start.
Ric how will the trade exception help the Cavs and what does Gilbert need to do to show the fans he can build a winner w/out having a superstar?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
You can't build a winner without a superstar. Gilbert is going to spend whatever it takes to build another winner, believe that. Short of drafting a superstar, though, I don't know how you get one to Cleveland. No offense to my people in wine and gold -- I am, afterall, a born and bred Buckeye.
Ric, do the suns look to make any sort of move for a PF or do they stand pat and see where this winning streak takes them?
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
Look at the teams they've beaten. These wins are putting lipstick on a pig. There is no quick fix for the Suns, other than trading Nash and accepting that you're tearing this down to the studs. Which they need to do.
Dave (Walnut Creek)
I earlier mentioned to you the Jazz's nice road record, and you said to wait and see. After losses to the Wiz and Nets, I am less sanguine. Why these flops?
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
I just don't think they're that great defensively and, as I've said since the start of the season, I don't like the combo of MIllsap and Jefferson. Doesn't give you much shotblocking and they're both undersized for their positions. Neither has the hands of a Boozer, either, which makes it that much tougher on Deron.
Ric, there is no reason why the Bulls shouldn't be looking to make a short term upgrade at SG for THIS season. Anthony Parker and JR Smith are both expiring contracts and could be had if the Bulls are willing to throw in a 1st....both would REALLY help this year and would NOT hurt them moving forward.
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
I'm all for a short-term upgrade. Don't see how Parker really helps them -- not good enough defensively and I'd say Korver is still a better shooter. JR is a wild card - you're going to give away a 1st to rent him for the rest of this season? This also goes to what I said about getting the right 2-guard. Boozer is, shall we say, high maintenance when it comes to feeding him the ball a lot to get the most out of him. If they get a 2 who is just as high maintenance, and just as iffy on D, they're going in the wrong direction. If it's truly a championship they're building toward.
Web (San Antonio)
Ok, Im begging now... Please say something about the Spurs (You know, the best team in the NBA)...... Anything.....
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
I feel lucky that I get to work their games two Fridays in a row. Manu has quietly stepped up and taken, if not leadership of the team from Tim, certainly a position side by side with him. Just not sure a team that lives by the 3 as much as they do can replicate this success in the postseason. But let's not worry about that til we get there...
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
And for the record, I've had more questions this week than any of the last two. So I'm not feeling a Simmons effect. Maybe it's gone the other way. Or maybe Frank from NY repeating his question 200 times artificially pumped up my numbers.
Ric, Do the Miami Heat have a shot at landing Chanucey Billups in the near future?
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
Don't see it, but he'd be a nice fit right now. He doesn't want to be a carpetbagger and by the time they get him, I'm just not sure he helps. Have to think in two years -- which is the earliest they'd get him -- he'll be much better playing at a slower pace.
Do Rose and Rondo hate each other ?
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
Don't have any indication of that. But they both want to be the best PG in the league and have a fierce competitive spirit. I believe you've become too conditioned to the heightened chumminess seen in the L these days. I have a hard time understanding how anybody can be that friendly with someone chasing the same dream as they are. I know I'm not very good at it.
David Stern (NYC)
Do I have the power to force Donald Sterling to sell a controlling stake in the Clips? Seems like nobody is ever willing to go to the Clips because of him -- and he NEVER wins.
Ric Bucher (2:03 PM)
To be honest, David, I think you have bigger problems right now.
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
Teams are playing Felton as a jump shooter -- from what I've seen -- which is not his strength. That said, the P&R hasn't been their problem. Wilson Chandler has fallen off, perhaps because of the trade rumors, and their defense and shot selection have both deteriorated.
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
Would love to keep going, but I have to start getting ready for tonight's game. Thanks for joining me, as always, and I'll try to do better next time.