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 (1:03 PM)
Hey, everybody, thanks for coming. President Obama has me cordoned out of my Chicago hotel -- OK, not just me, a few others, too -- so I'm doing this from a nearby cafe. Connection is a little slow so if I'm not my usual lightning self (yes, that is a joke), you know why. Here we go...
How competitive do you think the Spurs-Grizzlies series will be? With or without Ginobili?
Ric Bucher (1:05 PM)
Much more competitive without Manu. On paper, it should be very competitive. I'm just leery of a young team like the Grizzlies *asking* to face a proud, experienced group like the Spurs. Whatever San Antonio has, the Grizzlies are going to get it in full force.
Blueprint for the Knicks to win, beyond the stock answer of Stat or Melo scoring out of their minds?
Ric Bucher (1:07 PM)
They have to have the defensive discipline to make Rondo and Big Baby, whenever he's on the floor, primary scorers. I just don't know that their scheming and cohesion on defense are good enough to pull that off.
TomA (Citrus Heights, CA)
Are you hoping for Anaheim to get the Kings so you don't have to come to the "cow town"? Not you, but a lot of the "media elite" are begging for this move so when they travel, they get to stay in LA area and not have to come to a meager small market.
Ric Bucher (1:08 PM)
I live in the Bay Area, so I'll miss the drive up to Arco. I could check out the Kings and whoever they were playing and still sleep in my own bed. And Anaheim is not LA. It's OC. Different world.
Are analysts graded on their predictions? In other words, if somebody forecasts series right 80% of the time and someone else only 20%, will the 20% guy get replaced by someone more accurate?
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
Not that I know of. We're not hired to make predictions. We're hired to report and explain and entertain. For me, personally, I'm less worried about having a prediction be right than making a prediction on sound principles. I hope to make you think about things you wouldn't otherwise think about, too.
What kind of role will Artest play in LA's attempt to 3-peat? Jackson occasionally opts to leave Artest on the bench in the 4th quarter, rolling with a frontline of Gasol, Odom, Bynum. Do you think he'll trust his defensive stopper down the stretch, or is he a threat to the team's run due to his volatility (poor shot selection/mental lapses)?
Ric Bucher (1:14 PM)
Depends on the matchup. Ron doesn't have a very good grasp of how the Triangle works, still. That's what was so mind-blowing about him being cast as the savior/star of the Finals last year. He was lost for much of the series, including in Game 7. But he made a couple of plays that proved to be pivotal.
Why do people overrate Perkins yeah he s a got defender but he is a role player he s not like Noah who would give u 10-14 pts and 10 or more rebounds he ll never be nothing more than a role player and as a celtic fan i m glad he s gone cause now we dont have to overpay him like the Thunder just did
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
It's not what Perk is, in and of himself, as a player. (And please don't come to this chat room reciting rebounds and points as if it's the measure of a player, *especially" a role player.) The loss of Perk is felt most in its impact on the rest of the Celtics. It doesn't really matter what you think of him as a player -- his teammates loved him and felt he was vital to them being a championship-caliber squad. If they think less of themselves as a result, or resent the front office for taking that piece away, then his value is incalculable.
What first round outcome is most likely to make you change your opinion about the Finals? For example, if the Celtics sweep the Knicks instead of struggling, will they be title favorites again?
Ric Bucher (1:19 PM)
I'm not sure anything positive can be proved in the first round. Each round is different, each opponent presents a different problem. Knicks aren't the kind of team Boston is going to see in Round 2, 3 or 4, so it wouldn't change what I think of them. The only impact is if I see a team -- say, the Lakers -- struggling to get past an opponent they should handle. Same goes for Bulls or Heat.
Ainge is going to regret trading Perk for a 7th man (Green) after the C's get bounced in the conference semis.
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
Richie, you need to have a talk with Gregg.
Chris (San Fran, Ca)
Everyone seems to be ganging up on the Spurs recently, they were the best team in the league for much of the year, why the sudden lack of respect for proven champs and a coach who is willey in the playoffs?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
I don't know about ganging up on them; I'd say the Mavs have far more doubters, more than you'd expect for a 57-win team. For me, I haven't bought into the Spurs being as great a force as their record would suggest all season. Largely, because their defense is nowhere near as good as it used to be and that becomes a much bigger factor in the postseason. Also because they've been vulnerable at the PF spot ever since Robert Horry retired and they haven't resolved that flaw.
jon m. (chicago)
Hi Ric-maybe a dumb question, but do you type all the answers to these chats yourself, or do you dictate and someone else types? You do such a good job of explaining and writing, but at the same time, there are very few grammatical mistakes. Impressed either way, just curious.
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
All me. Misspelled words and grammatical errors drive me nuts. The use of an apostrophe in plurals in store signs drive me batty. Fair or otherwise, I see misspelled words as a reflection of laziness and ignorance. Thanks for the compliment.
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
All right, let's go rapid fire for the next 20 minutes...
Mark it down: JR Smith & Ty Lawson are going to explode in the 1st rd, and help lead the Nuggets past the Thunder in 7 games. JR's capable of dropping 20+ on any given night, and K-Mart, Nene, Gallo, Wil C, Afflalo, and Felton are as strong a core as any team in the Playoffs.
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
I can see JR Smith exploding in all sorts of ways, not all of them good. That's what worries me about the Nuggets.
RB, I know J. Barry picked the Cs out East but I really do think their legs are coming unglued. Miami and Chi might be young and restless. Also, do you think D. Rose has the killer instinct/
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
I've got Boston, too. Game is played below the rim and slower in the playoffs. Young legs not as big of a factor.
Clark A (Illnois State)
Can we get NBA Fan night to schedule more options than Lakers Vs "the world"?
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
You need to talk to NBA.com, NBA TV or TNT. That's their property.
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
ESPN runs most of the sports world, but not all of it. Yet.
How far can the heat go?I hope they face the lakers in the finals for the kobe vs lebron.even tho it wont be the same as it would have if he played for the cavs.But the heat i think can beat the lakers in the finals.What do you think?
Mark (Baton Rouge, La)
Who should the Lakers fear most in the West? East?
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
As much as I said young legs are not as big of a factor in the postseason as they are in the regular season, that's the biggest issue the Lakers could have if they reach the Finals and face the Bulls or Heat -- can they match their energy? Specifically, can Kobe in closing out games. We'll see.
I've seen more people predicting OKC over SA than SA over OKC. Would it really even be an upset if OKC makes it to the west finals?
Ric Bucher (1:33 PM)
For a team that's never won a playoff series and is the fourth seed, yes, it would still be an upset.
Bill (San Francisco)
Do you think the Kings move to Anaheim is a lock? If they can't move, will they be forced to sell, and for how much? Could Larry Ellison step in and move them to San Jose?
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
Ellison has explored that. I get no sense that the Maloofs are interested in selling the team. They've sold off just about everything else they have instead.
Sun's training staff (phoenix)
what are the chance's of grant hill as defensive player of the year?
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
(This is what I mean by use of an apostrophe for a plural -- it's Suns'. Argggggh.) None. But he deserves All-Defense honors this year. Which is remarkable. He was once AI-ish, now he's Bruce Bowen.
Quick lockout question. When the owners talk about losing money is the WNBA included in the loss? I can't imagine the WNBA making money and if that factors into the NBA possible having a lockout due to a loss then don't you think it's time to say goodbye to the ladies??
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
One of many holes in the owners' position that player salaries are to blame for their financial situation. For whatever reason, David is very protective of the WNBA as an NBA property.
more clutch, The Truth or Melo?
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
The Truth. Another case of one guy having more talent, the other guy doing more with what he has.
George Vartanian (Irvine)
What going to keep Nate McMillan and Rick Carlisle up at night?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
Knowing both of those guys, they're up until all hours fretting over their game plan no matter who they're playing.
The Sane Madman (Bulls Nation) [via mobile]
What up, Bucher. I know we have your support for Rose being the MVP but I have more intriguing issues in which I am pondering. 1. Before you go on air to grace us with your presence, do you look in the mirror at your hair like Dirk Diggler and quote "Yeah...you're the big star"? 2. Have you ever had Harold's Chicken in Chicago? I suggest the 87th and Dan Ryan locale however it is one downtown. I just can't remember where it is. 3. What do you get from Pink's?
Ric Bucher (1:41 PM)
1. No2. No. But I'll check it out.3. Vexed looks from their clerks as I walk by without going in.
too much is being made about the bulls beating the heat 3 times. now u also doubted the heat in 2006 where mr wade proved everyone wrong..are you going to make the same mistake?
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
As impressive as your ambition in building a bridge between 2006 and this season might be, there isn't an architect capable of pulling that off. And I have news for you -- I've probably banked on a couple of other teams/players incorrectly since 2006.
Hey man, been wanting to finally have one of your chats, question - is Atlanta gonna beat Orlando this year? Both have been under achieving clubs all season long.
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
That's my pick for likeliest upset in the east. I still expect Orlando to win, but the Hawks have what it takes to knock them off. I just never know how badly they want to utilize what they have.
I was debating the value of Luol Deng, while I don't think his ceiling is as high as Noah or Boozer when they are playing their "A-game," I feel he's easily the second biggest reason after Rose that the Bulls won 62 games this year and is critical for them to make a long playoff run? Your thoughts? P.S. Harold's Chicken is awesome
Ric Bucher (1:47 PM)
Luol hasn't received as much love as he deserves for his play this season. But don't under-estimate the impact of Rose's trust and example of playing through injury, has done for Deng. I still find it amusing how everyone dogged the Bulls' components for the last several years -- including Deng -- and now he's suddenly a second superstar. Rose's leadership and play, drawing double and triple teams, taking every big shot and feeding his teammates for the less pressured ones, is the reason. As anybody who has watched the Bulls for the last few years knows. Fact is, not too many people watched the Bulls that closely prior to this season.
Carver (Akron, OH)
Those point/counterpoints with Broussard are the WORST, will you stop doing them soon? I like you both and they make you seem petty.
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
They sell a ton of insider subscriptions, from what I'm told, and they drive a lot of traffic. So maybe the simpler solution is that you just stop reading them. But I appreciate that you're worried about our images.
Assuming there is a season next year. Jazz are in the playoffs. Yes or no?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
young net (new jersey)
where do you rank deron williams amongst the elite PG's in the nba?
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
Right behind Derrick Rose. Well, maybe not right behind. But No. 2.
Over or Under: 65 game season next year
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
Does the Dwight trade go down this summer or next deadline? And would you dismiss the Bulls b/c Rose likes his core as is + Dwight wants it to be his stage. On the court the Nets are the better option than the Lakers longterm but how big of a star does Dwight want to be?
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
I would expect a Dwight trade this summer or before the next season starts, from what I'm hearing. Rose likes his core because it's the core he has. He's not opposed to the Bulls improving it.
kobe bryant (los angeles)
$100k? Far worse things are said all the time on the court than that. Why did i get singled out? Politics? Where are all the, "its part of the game," defenders who came out for KG when he called Charlie Villeneuva a cancer patient?
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
The NBA is an image-driven league and Stern is sensitive to the bullying of gays in certain communities. Now, that's not what Kobe was doing, but the word he used is associated with that persecution. It's not the first time David has killed a mosquito with a bazooka -- and I don't say that to make light of the word.
I obviously view this through tinted glasses, being a Magic fan, but is Dwight REALLY that whine-y, complain-y, elbow-y, or immature to have this negative a view by the league, and the NBA following country at large? When attempting to watch him through objective eyes, i don't get why he stands out above all other players as far as technicals and calls go.
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
He does. Other players have noticeably toned it down. Besides, a lot of his techs come from the kind of fouls he commits, if I'm not mistaken. Swinging elbows and shots to the head are supposed to receive Ts.
Should the Bulls go after Dwight Howard this summer if he pulls a Melo and the Bulls lose early? Noah and Boozer for Howard and Bass seems like a solid offer, right?
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
Let's put it this way: Dwight should want to go to Chicago and play with Rose. That combo would be Kobe-Shaqesque. But from all I hear, Dwight is looking at LA or NJ. Nothing in between.
Far worse things than "f****t?" I can count on one hand the number of words more offensive. As for "kobe's" cancer patient argument, cancer patients aren't beaten to death for having cancer.
Ric Bucher (2:03 PM)
The whole issue is a slippery slope. For me, the problem is that offensive language is used liberally at sporting events -- by fans, players and coaches. Do we examine tape now and pop everyone? I don't see that happening. I'm not condoning what Kobe said in any way, but it bothers me when a rule or judgment is applied unevenly.
Why do the experts hate JR Smith so much? He has almost been a model citizen the last two seasons and doesn't get the PT he deserves. A lot of players would handle it worse than JR has.
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
Having seen him during last year's playoffs when he wandered away from huddles and buried his head in his hands, took inexplicable shots and blew defensive assignments, I can only tell you that model citizen stuff applied only to off the court. If that.
RR (HOLLYWOOD, CA)
When players are fined, do they write a personal check to the NBA or does it just come out of their paycheck? How mad is Kobe losing 100K?
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
Deducted from their paycheck. Haven't talked to him about it. The fact that he won't make an outright apology suggests how he feels about it.
J. Ricardo (St. Charles, MO)
Do you think you should lose your job for suggesting recent Cavs teams have had as much talent as this Chicago team? You do realize how silly that is, right? Noah, Booze, or Deng would all be the second best players on those teams. You overstate your case on a regular basis, Ric, and it hurts your credibility.
Ric Bucher (2:11 PM)
Varejao and Noah are a wash. Boozer once played with LeBron. Deng was Larry Hughes before this season. The difference in talent is a wash. You don't win 60 games in Cleveland -- I believe they did that one year -- with only one player anymore than you win 62 just because of Rose. There are a lot of similarites -- defensive-minded young coach included. But Rose's leadership, unique combination of taking games over and yet keeping his teammates involved and setting the standard on defensive effort is light years beyond what LeBron was doing his third year. It's not even close.Despite that, I'm not going to make you lose your place in my chat room for not being able to discern that. You're welcome here anytime.
Ric, the mics at baseball games have been turned up this year or so it seems, but players are always throwing the F-bombs out of their mouths. Not too much different than Kobe yelling something out. If you discipline one, you discipline all...in every league.
Cory (Geneva, IL )
But there is a difference between two players trash talking and a player throwing a fit and yelling across the floor at a ref.
malcolm (pocono mt)
i think nba should have an uncut channel. i would pay to hear all the curse words that come out of kg's mouth. that would be a revenue booster
David (St. Louis)
How on earth did Kobe not get a 2nd tech for that?
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
I threw those all up so you guys could see each other's thoughts on the matter. I'll only answer the last one: Bennie apparently didn't hear him. Which adds a whole other layer to the incident. But the heat-pad flinging and chair-punching could've warranted a second T. Unless Bennie knew it might've been a wrong call and on some level felt maybe, just maybe, Kobe's anger was merited.
Does D Rose have a shot to be the best player in the NBA someday. I understand he will win the MVP this year, but no one is saying he is better than LeBron, Kobe, etc. My thinking is that he if far ahead of where LeBron and Kobe were in their 3rd years. Can you imagine what Rose might be with a few more years under his belt?
Ric Bucher (2:17 PM)
Then let me be the one to say it: he's the best player in the NBA. Right now.
How do the "experts" say that Portland will beat the Mavs when their franchise hasn't won a playoff series in over 10 years? People are quick to point to the Mavs recent struggles in recent years, but they are so much more playoff tested than anyone on the Blazers roster. Thoughts?
Ric Bucher (2:19 PM)
A, Blazers are playoff-tested. I can't run down all the games their roster has played in the postseason, but it's plenty. B, the Blazers beat the Mavs the last two times they faced each other. C, Didn't that playoff-tested Dallas team get bounced in the first round last year despite being the higher seed?
Harry (New Zealand)
Hey Ric when does mvp/ all nba teams get announced? whos in your all nba 1st team?>
Ric Bucher (2:23 PM)
MVP is announced at discretion of the league. I would expect sometime in the first round, maybe game 2 of Bulls-Pacers. Just a guess. My All NBA First Team: LeBron, Dirk, Dwight, Kobe, DRose.
Ric Bucher (2:25 PM)
That was my MVP ballot, too. Thanks for coming. Let's do it again next Friday. FYI, I'm working sideline for Bulls-Pacers tomorrow, Hawks-Magic next Friday and Grizzlies-Spurs next Saturday. We'll have even more to talk about, I'm sure, as these sensational NBA playoffs unfold. Now, chatters, I've got to get busy GPSing Harold's Chicken...