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 (1:05 PM)
Hello everybody. Had some technical difficulties -- page kept flipping back ith a mere touch of the mouse -- but I'm here. Only working on one cup of coffee so I'm a quart low, but I'm going to suck it up and play hurt until reinforcements arrive. Let's get started.
Hyde Park Dave (Chicago)
I always appreciate you answering my twitter questions Ric. Thanks! Do you think the OJ Mayo suspension brings him to Chicago by the trade deadline? Memphis must want to move on...it could be a cheap upgrade for the Bulls that they need to contend
Ric Bucher (1:07 PM)
I'm told that in spite of what Memphis says they'd love to move Mayo and the suspension can't help his cause. But let me state this for all Bulls' fans who are pining for a two-guard: you couldn't find a worse fit than Mayo for the Bulls. Pray that Gar Forman doesn't even think twice about making that move. Both he and JR Smith would ruin what you have.
Tim (St Louis)
I'm seeing sports writers saying the Celtics will have 4 All-Stars but the Spurs could have 1 or none. How is this possible?
Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
You're going to have state names and affiliations. I haven't heard or read anybody say/write that. Spurs will have at least two All-Stars: Manu and TD and very possibly Parker. Boston will have three, possibly four, with Ray Allen on the bubble. Though how one of the league's greatest shooters having a career year in shooting doesn't make it is beyond me.
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
By the way, not that anybody asked, but if you watched the Spurs-Jazz game, you saw the foolishness in EVER suggesting Parker is the San Antonio's MVP or more valuable than Manu. The Jazz attacked Parker relentlessly down the stretch, as do many teams. Meanwhile, Manu was the one making play after play at both ends -- defending Deron Williams and hitting big shots. Just thought it needed to be said. And don't take that as me not liking TP. I do.
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
Sorry for the delay. Package at the door that will make me Husband of the Month. Trust me.
If / when the Pacers do remove O'Brien as the coach who do you think they will try to go after? Mark Jackson? Mike Brown? Any rising coaching prospects that would want to try and coach this mess?
Ric Bucher (1:14 PM)
I hear that both O'Brien and David Morway could be gone in a clean sweep and that Kevin Pritchard is high on their list to take over as GM. Does KP lure Nate McMillan away from the Blazers? That would be a crazy two-run homer for the Pacers if it happened.
sukram (los angeles, ca)
Is JWill still a worthy pickup?
Ric Bucher (1:16 PM)
Fair question. We've seen so little of him and I have to wonder why he wasn't playing more. His IQ is off the charts, so it would have to be physical. I do know that any team outside of Florida looking for back-up help probably shouldn't bother -- he retired rather than go to LA (and it was LA, not that it was the Clippers) so I don't see him just going anywhere. Would Miami bring him back? That will be the true litmus of whether he has anything left.
Deron Williams (SLC)
Where do you see me playing after 2012?
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
I have no particular insight on this, but I could see Dallas making a really big push for him. Now, whether he wants to go back and play in his hometown, that would be the question.
Ric what are you hearing about Andre Iguodala's trade value and the 6ers willingness to pull the trigger on a deal?
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
I reported this a couple of weeks ago and I haven't heard anything to the contrary: Sixers think they can make the playoffs and rightfully so. For that reason, they took Andre off the market and I don't see them making any major moves.
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
Sorry -- I was editing a question and then lost it. Let's go rapid-fire round for the next 10 minutes since I've been so lame so far. Here we go...
Thoughts on Abbott's killer Kobe Clutch article?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
Haven't read it yet. All I know is this: every player, coach and GM, asked to pick a player with their life on the line to take a final shot, would pick Kobe. I don't know for how much longer, but as of right now, that's how it stands.
Jerry Sloan (Salt Lake)
How about all the COY that won during my tenure that ended up crashing and burning?
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
Which should make you glad you never won one. It's no coincidence. Although Scotty Brooks seems to be holding up just fine.
Will Nick Young move into the discussion for Most Improved Player?
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
He hasn't, but I wouldn't mind putting his name in there. Big jump since Gilbert left -- which also isn't a coincidence.
David Stern (NY)
Should I be happy that my small market teams outside of San Antonio don't have a prayer to land and keep superstars?
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
I have a feeling you're going to fix that in the next collective bargaining agreement, either with a franchise tag clause or a re-signing angle that gives the incumbent team some sort of monstrous advantage.
Jerry Sloan (Salt Lake City)
Will it take me retiring for Jazz fans to realize I'm not out of date, and the game hasn't passed me by?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
I didn't know Jazz fans were that down on Jerry. I wouldn't blame him, I'd blame the cost-cutting measures the team has taken with the roster. Along with the idea that Paul Millsap is a starting PF in this league. How many times does he have to have a great 25-game stretch and then break down or sputter for people to understand that when you're undersized and live off your energy, your wheelhouse is as a third big so that you're always relatively fresh?
Lebron James (Miami)
Did I doom all the small market teams by teaming up with other superstars?
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
No, you inspired the owners to make sure that superstars in the future can't hijack the free-agency system.
Paul Morton (Pittsburgh,PA)
Is it official that the New Orleans Hornets will be staying in New Orleans and if they are is it more than likely that we will now see the Sacramento Kings possibly on the move?
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
I don't think the two are connected. The difference is that the Maloofs (Kings owners) don't want to sell, they want to find a market where they can be viable. Hornets have to be sold and there are plenty of buyers -- just none that want to keep it in NO. I didn't see the attendance mark being met as a win for anybody. It only delays the inevitable. I love the city of Nawluns and its citizens, but it's not a market that can support an NBA team. Sell them to Bob Whitsitt and his money people, get them to Seattle and be done with it.
are the bulls ever going to pick up a shooting guard lol????Aaron Affalo would be a great fit i think is that possible?BOGANS is AWFUL and Brewer is more a backup defensive type player
Ric Bucher (1:33 PM)
Yes. Just not this season. I recommended Afflalo weeks ago, at the behest of one of my tweeps.
Ric Bucher (1:33 PM)
All right, I'm going to go slightly longer on a couple but still try to keep the pace rolling...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Where will Carmelo Anthony be traded to?
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
I don't know but I find it hard to believe he won't be traded because both he and Denver lose if he isn't. He walks as a FA, leaving Denver with nothing and he takes the hit of signing under the new CBA. The question is, does he relent and go to NJ, as many of the people around him want, or does he hold out for NY no matter what? I can't answer that question. I can tell you that as of right now, it's NJ or NY. Chicago pulled out months ago and talk of them getting back in smacks of Melo's people trying to create leverage, not legitimacy.
Do you think the performance last night of Fields and Gallo makes the Nuggets think twice about the Knicks assets?
Ric Bucher (1:41 PM)
No. Teams aren't silly enough to look at one night and change their thinking about a player or players. It's as goofy as suggesting one game in the NCAA tournament or Jimmer's performance the other night vs. SDSU changed his draft status. Any player in the league can have a big night -- remember, Tony Delk had 50 once. Fields doing what he did against Miami makes all the sense in the world. Denver looks at NY's players and believes their numbers and performances are inflated because of the way NY plays. That's not going to change.
Ric, I'm in the camp that thinks Denver will definitely come calling to the Nets around Feb. 20th and try to get them back in the Carmelo hunt. Is there any way NJ will have enough leverage, at that time, to offer up a deal that doesn't involve Favors? And would Melo be more likely to sign on if he was going to be forming a fearsome frontline with Brook and Favors? Thanks!
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
Favors isn't the linchpin in Melo's thinking. He wants to be in NY on a big stage. Can the Nets provide that when they move to Brooklyn? Will Melo have the patience to wait until they get there? That's what he is weighing. Along with does he reeeeeeally want to give up all that money to go to the Knicks as a FA.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
It seems like the NBA is in real financial trouble. I understand why teams hand out big contracts to superstars like LeBron James and Amar'e Stoudemire because those guys sell tickets. On the other hand, mid-level guys don't really real sell tickets. Keeping that in mind, why did so many teams use their mid-level exception to sign marginal starters like Drew Gooden and Hakim Warrick to long-term deals? Gooden and Warrick do not sell tickets and are locked in long-term to expensive contracts. The rumors are that the NBA is pushing for a hard cap, which would make the mid-level exception deals mentioned above look pretty bad. How do you reconcile the financial trouble that NBA teams claim that they are in with the mid-level exception contracts handed out in the off-season?
Ric Bucher (1:45 PM)
The NBA is not in financial trouble. The mid-level exceptions are going to go away. And the reason the mid-levels have been bad is because teams have used them to their max to sign guys other teams didn't want. It's not the vehicle, it's the way it has been driven. The owners now want a system that assures no matter how fast they take a corner or cross the double yellow line, they can't crash the car. And they'll probably get it.
There have been many reports saying the Rockets have everybody up for sale. Who could they possibly be hoping to land that could make them better?
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
They want to find another franchise player to build around. I don't see it happening during the season. By and large, that's not when franchise players are moved. It makes for bad situations - like the one the Nuggets are in right now.
Kobe has shown an ability to adapt his game as his athleticism wanes. He is finding it increasingly hard to finish explosively at the rim and elevate over longer players for his jumper. How much longer can he keep up his sufficient level of scoring efficiency? Or is there a plateau effect where-in he knows how to score w/ his footwork and his mind and he'll continue at this level the next 3-4 years?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
It's not a matter of how long he can keep up his scoring average. It's the expense to the team of him keeping up that scoring average. When Jordan came back with the Wizards, he could still score at a high rate and everyone marveled at how he did it. One small problem: they weren't winning numbers. He needed more touches and plays run and teams didn't double because they could let him get his numbers and still win. And that's where, when looking at an individual player's averages and suggesting that "if only he had help" doesn't always fly. Sometimes that player is getting his numbers at the expense, not benefit, of his team.
Brian (Bay Area)
Hey Ric,At what point do the Lakers consider a youth movement and shaking up the roster by trading one of their assests? Only after failing to win it all? Would Mitch consider doing so this year if they fall short?
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
If Phil is truly retiring, then everything changes for the Lakers. I hear Brian Shaw is the likeliest replacement so they could still run the Triangle, but they desperately need another go-to scorer to help Kobe get through the regular season. I felt they needed that this season. But it would've required moving a core piece or two and that would've been a bigger gamble than Mitch has traditionally been willing to take.
Unless the Hornets or Jazz win a NBA championship in the very near future, Do you believe that Chris Paul and Deron Williams will put their respective franchises in a Carmelo Anthony situation at some point? If so Why don't NBA Teams cut ties with Franchise players earlier in the process to avoid team determent and possibly get good value back from a trade?
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
I tried to look up "determent," but it's not in my dictionary. Maybe you meant "detriment." Kobe is the No. 1 example of why you don't just dump and run when a guy is unhappy. Superstars are rare, especially superstar point guards. Kobe wanted out of LA in the worst way and the Lakers were ready to pull the trigger but ultimately didn't. They now have two more titles as a result. If you have a superstar, you want to exhaust your attempts to change things to make him happy before you move him. For me, the Nuggets' mistake was not deciding which way they were going to go before the season. Ride him to the end or deal him, but decide what you're going to do before the first ball goes up.
Disco (S. Burlington, VT)
What do you think will be the next version of "Super Friends" and when/where will we see it?
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
I'm not sure you will. I believe the next CBA will make it harder to do and I don't get the sense the next wave of stars thinks the way the CP3-Howard-Bosh-LeBron generation do. I also know this: Knicks' fans should be careful what they wish for. Melo-Amare is not a nucleus that spells instant championships. Not in the traditional way. Titles are won on two-way players. Lots of them, but especially your superstars.
If your right about Paul Millsap than why dont the Jazz move Big Al to starting PF and return Millsap to his old spot coming off the bench?
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
Once Okur is in shape, they very well might.
Mike (St. Paul, MN)
Who you got, Packers or Steelers?
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
Steelers. Even though I'm a born-and-bred Bengals fan.
Alex (Manhattan Beach, CA)
any studs in the draft this year?
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
Not that I'm told. No franchise changers, anyway.
Cali Pistons fan (LA)
Rip Hamilton for Caron Butler? Both teams are playing without them anyway. Would Dallas bite?
Ric Bucher (2:00 PM)
That seemed plausible to me, but when I checked on it I was told the two have not had a single conversation about it.
Ric, love the chats. As we think about 2012 free agent class, with Bynum and Odom coming off the bench, what are the odds Deron Williams and Dwight Howard end up as Lakers? Perfect mentoring relationships for Kobe to teach the youngsters the way of the rings.
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
I don't know that Deron needs mentoring. Second point: you have to be able to perform at a really high level to mentor. I'll be interested to see what Kobe has left two years from now.
How is Pau Gasol not a go to scorer?
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
Because he's not. He has all the skills and athleticism, but not the mentality. Stop with the Kobe-doesn't-give-him-the-ball nonsense. He gets the ball in need situations and passes it back out or doesn't fight to get himself in position to score. Go-to scorers don't ask for the ball -- they get the damn ball and they aggressively look to score. Pau simply doesn't do that. Doesn't make him a bad person or a bad player. Just doesn't make him a go-to scorer.
Ric, i keep getting nervous after all of these close losses and bad offensive showings by the heat, but at the same time i cant help but feel this is just an 82 game preseason and we will truly see the heats greatness come playoffs. It was only last year that all of the "great"analyst were calling for a one and done for the eventual ECC celtics.
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
Not to toot my own horn, but I called for the Celtics to go to the Finals even when they were struggling. But it had to do with how they were playing and why they were playing that way. Miami, as impressive as they are at times now, isn't building toward anything. They're not honing a playoff-style game. They still take possessions off and short-cut the offense. Lots of teams do that. But the Celtics don't and that's why I don't see anyone getting by them in the East.
Florenz (Düsseldorf, Germany)
Ric, I believe the Knicks have a shot at winning at least one playoff round with the current roster! Given Amare's and Felton's steady play and good contributions by the roll players (Gallo, Fields, Chandler), they should be able to make some noise. What's your take on the Knicks?
Ric Bucher (2:08 PM)
I love that both NY and Chicago have teams that matter again, in part because I love the energy and atmosphere in their buildings and I love having a reason to go to NY and Chicago. I could see them winning a playoff round, depending on the matchup. But this is really their first year of doing anything. Teams don't improve by leaps and bounds. Making the playoffs is a nice step. Winning a round as well would be a wild success. Don't look for more than that.
What 2 are you leaving off the all star team between Duncan, Gasol, Griffin, Odom, Aldrige & Love?
Ric Bucher (2:12 PM)
This question has been sitting there and I've been trying to avoid it. I would move TD and Pau to center and take Griffin, Odom, Love, Dirk, KD and Melo as my forwards and I'd pick only four guards.
Ric Bucher (2:13 PM)
Tune in next week and I'll tell you who the four guards are. Thanks for coming. Really solid questions this week and no multiple submissions. See you next Friday.
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