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, thanks for joining me (again). We dropped the cover to half off for those who still had their hand stamp from yesterday. As always, lots of good questions already queued up. Without further ado...
Do you think the lockout is the ultimate wildcard for next season's champ? By that I mean, might a 50 game season really help BOS/LA/DAL while a cancelled year might shut their windows completely?
Ric, will a lockout shortened 2011-12 help or hurt the chances of the veteran teams (Boston, LA, Dallas, SA) giving it one more shot?
Ric Bucher (1:07 PM)
Has to hurt them. Yes, they get some extended time off, but getting an old body going again is not easy. Takes longer to get back up to speed and you can't go too hard too soon. Also, a 50-game season is a sprint, which means some back-to-back-to-back stretches, if they use the same scheduling as last time. And we know how well vets do in merely back-to-backs.
Ric Bucher (1:08 PM)
It will be a shame if we see a number of guys retire because of a lockout. Won't stop it from happening, but the league will lose a bit of its soul for it.
Ric, I need your help. There are some people out there who think that Rondo is this great PG/franchise guy. With his crippling deficiencies as a shooter, I see a good player who really hurts his team b/c he's afraid to shoot late, is afraid to get fouled and by overpassing the ball in traffic around the basket. What are your thoughts on Rondo's place among the PG elite?
Ric Bucher (1:10 PM)
It's somewhere in the middle. Rondo, when he's attacking or over-dribbling on the perimeter and not playing gambling D, can cover up his deficiencies. But his lack of aggression when the Cs need him most -- which is right now -- has been troubling. He doesn't have to shoot jump shots but if he gets into the paint he has to take those floaters. He's not even looking at the rim.
Ric Bucher (1:11 PM)
Can't help but think, on some level, being outmatched by Westbrook and Rose last summer with Team USA has crept into his psyche. But that is, admittedly, potential psychobabble.
Despite losing the season series 3-0 to Chicago, what are Miami's chances in defeating the Bulls in a possible Eastern Conference Finals?
Ric Bucher (1:13 PM)
It would be hard for me to pick against them right now. All depends on whether or not Chicago can keep every game close. We've yet to see Miami execute well in a close playoff game in the final minutes.
Lebron James (Coconut Grove (Miami))
You said Derrick Rose is better than me, lol. How so?
Ric Bucher (1:14 PM)
Didn't say he was better, said I'd take him over you to start a team. For one reason, see previous answer.
From The 3s (Boston)
The writing on wall seems to be pretty apparent for Duncan, KG, Kobe, et al that this year and a far outside chance of next season as the last legitimate chances at a title. That said, shouldn't the 2003 draft class be the ones more concerned that Rose, Durant, and the new guard are seizing the moment?
Ric Bucher (1:16 PM)
Agreed. For all the talk about how sensational that draft class was - and is - they have one ring to their names. Maybe all that changes this year, but there's a chance it could go from the Most Ballyhooed Class to Most Overrated.
Martin (Hattiesburg, MS)
Is Stern saying he wants to keep the process out of the courts a signal that owners might give more than we expect in this negotiation? That statement seemed like a sign of weakness on their part....
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
That's posturing. Anything Stern says at this point is for public consumption, to put a good face on the owners. They are not weak by any stretch. And they're not giving, either.
How would you assess the media's collective interpretation of the 'trust issues' comment by Andrew Bynum? Some felt he was referring to logistical defensive rotation flaws of the team, while most assumed he was expressing something deeper...
Ric Bucher (1:21 PM)
I don't know if it was assumption or wishful thinking or naivete. The Lakers have been through everything together, successfully, to win championships. There's a little bit of shifting as far as importance -- Bynum rising, Gasol and Kobe sliding -- but not enough to fracture this team. It's pretty simple: a teammate knows when you're hesitating on giving him the ball and it has nothing to do with the defense. Same as he knows when you were slow to rotate because you were afraid of leaving your guy rather than helping him out. Those things can be fixed in one practice.
Ric Bucher (1:21 PM)
Now, is it enough for the Lakers to overcome the Mavs? That will be answered tonight. Maybe they just don't have enough energy anymore.
Oliver (New York)
Ric, I don't think the LA series is over, but its obvious that LA's 3 vs 5 strategy simply doesn't work anymore. LA has had THE worst +/- at the pg position in the NBA and could have traded for Kirk Hinrich and Artest simply doesn't fit. I blame the front office primarily for not fixing this and NOT Pau or Kobe. No matter what the outcome is these playoffs ( aka miracle comeback or loss), LA needs to retool at pg and sf. I understand Dwight Howard is the prize, but it doesn't change the fact.
Nick (CT) [via mobile]
Ric, don't you think Lakers get some sort of pass because it has been three straight to the finals and this is the fourth run. I think Kobe and the Lakers get the benefit of the doubt don't you?
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
I think Derek Fisher deserves the benefit of the doubt. I'm a little lost on all the people that keep calling for the Lakers to get a great PG. When did they ever have a great PG in the triangle? When was one ever necessary? They only need one if they completely re-vamp the way they play. Do they need more speed and athleticism? Yes. But that guy also has to be able to knock down 3s and play smart under pressure. Derek Fisher has done that waaaayyyy too many times, even after we've stuck a fork in him, to be tied to the train tracks now.
Lance (Pdx )
hey Ric, Is this the summer of the free agents center? (Oden, Gasol, DeAndre Jordan)??
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
You forgot Nene, who should be on the market, too. DeAndre is restricted, so I'm not sure he counts. But if Dwight joins the party, absolutely.
Seeing these Frank Vogel - Houston reports floating around, do you think the Pacers move in and make an offer to him? Or is this indicative that the Pacers are looking elsewhere?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
From what i've heard, Frank is not at the top of their list, even though it seems likely that Bird is staying. Hard to see Houston jumping out on Vogel -- competition isn't that stiff. Rockets were hoping Stan Van Gundy would get bounced (or let's say some people were pushing the Rockets hard to go after SVG if he got bounced) but the latest I've heard is that Dwane Casey is a strong option with Mike Brown taking himself out of the running.
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
Total darkhorse that I haven't heard mentioned and has some Doc Rivers' qualities to him: Chuck Person. If I'm the Pacers, I have to take a long, hard look at him.
Ric Bucher (1:31 PM)
Let's go rapid-fire until at least 1:45...
do refs call less fouls deeper into the playoffs or is d-rose just not driving and drawing contact like he had been? He has only 6 FTA in the 2nd round so far.
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
He's not attacking with the same reckless abandon since he tweaked his ankle. Probably wise. He's still getting the job done, but if he can't go at all, they are toast.
Alex (Missoula, MT)
If every team in the playoffs took a magic pill that made them play at 100% of their potential, who would you take in the finals?
Ric Bucher (1:33 PM)
I'm I wrong for thinking anytime Drose takes a jumper more than 18ft the defense won? Y does he need to shoot so many 3s it kills us, has thibs told him to attack more?
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
At the risk of sounding like an apologist - I know, with Rose I probably passed that marker a long time ago - teams are completely closing down the lane. If he were coming down and jacking 3s at the start of plays, I'd take issue. Reality is he's trying to get other guys going and the ball keeps coming back to him with a short shot clock. And one of the issues that Boozer is creating, among others, is that he's helping to clog the paint.
To all fans outside of Miami, please Ric, please give me hope that Miami is not going to win it all this year. Anyone look good enough to stop them right now?
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
I feel as if I'm letting you guys down by not having a better sense of where we are. But, honestly, outside of the Hawks, I could see any of the remaining seven teams in the Finals. The Heat still have not had their last-second execution tested and I have to think at some point, some team, puts them in that vise grip. But that's what it is going to take.
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Lousy job at rapid fire. I'm starting over right now and going til 1:55...
Tyler (Chapel Hill)
When will Colin Cowherd make good on his promise to do his show in his underwear if Tyler Hansbrough ever scores 20 in an NBA game? The least he could do is acknowledge how wrong and disrespectful he was; Tyler has scored 20 or more 13 times so far.
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Wasn't aware of that. I will be in Bristol next week and will be sure to bring it up.
Mike (San Francisco)
Hi Ric, with all this talk about the kings, hornets etc. potentially relocating, do you think there would ever be room for two NBA teams in the Bay area, like there is in baseball and football?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
Larry Ellison believes there is room and is hoping to prove it. But, so far, he hasn't made in-roads.
Pat Riley (Coral Gables, FL)
all year long you doubted us because of your "final two mintues theory". What are the percentages of playoff games that actually come down to the final two mintues? Why are you such a proponent of this theory?
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
Pat, you're going to have to do a better job picking chat-room proxies.
Bart (Abilene, TX)
In the piece about the Spurs or Magic needing to retool, you suggested it was time for the Spurs to trade Tony Parker. My question: can the Spurs get fair value for him? If all Deron Williams brings is Derrick Favors and picks, what could the Spurs reasonably hope to bring in that would make them better now?
Ric Bucher (1:41 PM)
It's a fair question and why I threw out the deal with the Knicks, which many considered lopsided for the Knicks. That said, Deron would've fetched a whole lot more on the open market had the Jazz taken their time.
Ryan Delorie (Washington, DC)
Talk to me Ric. If lakers bow out early, does it make it more likely Dwight goes to LA? and would Bynum and Odom get it done? I think Pau Gasol's game would complement Dwights very nicely. or would LA also have to take on Hedo, perhaps Dwight and Hedo for Bynum, Odom, Luke Walton and Steve Blake
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
I'd say it's the opposite -- if Lakers bow out early, it adds fuel to the fire that Kobe doesn't have all that much left. Wherever Dwight goes - or stays - he wants an outside threat that can help him win rings.
What went into this weird scheduling? Was it simply giving TNT a break between Tuesday and Sunday?
Is it just me or does this playof scheduling make no sense? Why would mia/bos and mem/okc play tuesday then not again until sat and the bulls/atl, LAL/dal play wed and friday?
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
Has to do with TV ratings -- biggest draws in most prime times -- and arena availability.
Any chance Dr. Buss might be willing to part with Pau or Drew so that I can come play ball for him?
Ric Bucher (1:45 PM)
Jim Buss is the one attached to Drew, but yes, in a heartbeat.
You mentioned players such as Lebron, Wade, Rose, and Dirk in your chat yesterday, and when asked for your playoff MVP so far you mention Dirk, Bron, Wade or DRose. Where's the love for Durant and that Thunder team in OKC? Only one passing mention of them in the whole column yesterday and it was in a reader question.
Ric Bucher (1:47 PM)
Just haven't been overwhelmed by the way they've played collectively. KD has pulled out some games for them on offense, as he can, but the disconnect between he and Russ is troubling.
Heard a rumor Miami would is going to go after Nene this offseason. Is it true? How would they be able to sign him?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
Only way would be a sign-and-trade sending Bosh the other way. Hard to see Nene going to Miami and living in shadow of LeBron and Wade after having just escaped the shadow of Melo.
Ric, should the bulls play booze with the second unit to keep him from getting swatted by Josh Smith every time he attacks the rim?
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
It makes some sense, but his confidence already seems shot. I just wonder what being moved to the bench would do and the truth is they are going to need him to get to the Finals.
Tim (Cambridge, MA)
Buch, does Shaq make a difference in Game 3? I think he helps put a body on some of LeBron and DWade's forays to the rim, but it seems it's the Celts' offense that just can't crack the Miami D. If Rondo isn't torching Bibby, the Cs are giving away the series.
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
I'm not expecting much from Shaq, whether he plays or not. Agree 100 percent that this series rides on Rondo being Rondo.
Gareth (Boston MA)
Every expert talks about trading Nash but as a hardcore suns fan, i ask you to who for whom? There aren't many pg-needy teams out there with young pieces and draft picks to give the suns
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
There are plenty of teams that could use a Nash-type PG. The question is, how many would put Nash closer to a title and have worthwhile pieces to send back? That's where the field narrows.
Fred (Alexandria VA)
As a Celts fan, watching Celts and Lakers with interest. Dallas is not a "young" team - is it age, or fatigue, or are the Lakers just missing shots?
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
Can't believe they'll go 2 for 20 again from 3s, so shooting was a problem in G2 and they made a half-dozen un-Laker-like mistakes in G! down the stretch. Not disrepecting what the Mavs have done, but I just feel we haven't seen the Lakers anywhere near their best in this series yet.
Sham (West Springfield MA)
Could you please explain to me why big baby took 3 consecutive shots (all posting up which doesnt make any sense when you have chris bosh pulling the chair on you everytime!) and missed them all when the score was tied at 80? Does he not realize that hes playing with 4 allstars? I blame doc rivers on this one for leaving him in the game for too long and not replacing him wit JO or Jeff Green.
Ric Bucher (1:54 PM)
They were trying to go at Bosh, as they have in various ways all series, and usually physical guys can get into him. Big Baby just didn't deliver.
Lebron/Wade the best duo since MJ/Pippen? Could they win 3 rings in the next 5 years?
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
Easy there, Eli. Let them win one first.
FamousJuan (Orlando, FL)
News Media seems to think Bynum was wrong for making public comments about the team. Even Magic said that as team captain a player having a problem would have come to him. What do you think Kobe would have said if Bynum said the team had "trust issue?" I see Kobe responding with "Yeah, you're right, I don't trust you!" Based on that, wasn't Bynum doing the best/only thing he could?
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
Lot of other people he could have gone to -- Drew is smart, big and still very young. His teammates realize that and took his comments in that context.
KC (Ithaca, NY)
Hey Ric, what do you think of ATL's chances of winning the CHI series, given that the last two years the team has basically played like punks in front of its hometown fans in the playoffs?
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
Someone who is close to this Bulls' team and whom I rely on to take their temperature believes they will play much better in Atlanta than they did in Chicago. We forget how young they are and how much pressure is on a third-year guy like Rose, who has been in the spotlight non-stop when all he really wants to do is ball.
Did that tweet mean you actually thought yesterday was Friday? I mean, we all hated not having basketball, but to get the day wrong...
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
Yup. Schedule got flipped around and had to change plans returning from LA after Game 2 because I have to fly to Memphis today for OKC-Thunder on Saturday, followed by a trip to Bristol to do some early SC work. Not the first time it has happened to me.
What is the likelihood we have seen the last of Phil Jackson? Also what is the likelihood Doc Rivers is not coaching Boston next season, if there is one,?
Rory (Plymouth Meeting, PA)
Percentage chance PhilJax returns to LAL in 2011-12? o/u 50%?
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
Less than 2 percent for Phil. I expect Doc to take next year off and then choose where he wants to coach.
In all the talk of Wade becoming the Heats best #1 guy, is it possible that an A-Rod/ Jeter dynamic exists. A-Rod is a better shortstop, than Jeter, but was MUCH better equipped to be a 3rd baseman than DJ could ever be. In my opinion, Bron may be he better alpha dog. But because of his versatility and physicality and overall freakishness is worth more to the Heat as a 2nd banana in some ways than Wade could possibly.
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
You're over-thinking it. No question LeBron has the most talent, which is why it's natural to want the ball in his hands. But sometimes he attacks, sometimes he massages the ball and then swings it, sometimes he settles for a low-percentage shot. And I defy anyone to tell me when he's going to do what. DWade? DWade is looking to score. Period. Which is the first and most important quality any closer has to have. Makes everybody else's job easier.LeBron-Wade debate is not that far from the old one about Kobe-Shaq.
Scott (Santa Barbara, CA)
Dwight Howard to the Clips? He wants to play in LA and the Clips could put together a pretty nice package that doesn't include Griffin or Gordon. Would Orlando bite on Aminu, Bledsoe, Kaman, and the Wolves pick and would Dwight agree to go there?
Derreck (Veneta, OR)
Ric, if the Lakers really do lose to the Mavs how seriously will they look at shaking up their roster? Will it be major moves like Drew for Dwight and/or Pau for Deron or just small tweaks around the edges?
If Dwight Howard ends up going to the Nets and joining D-Will, would they become the best partnership in the league, outside of James and Wade obviously. It seems to me that they could work really well together. Thoughts?
Would Howard be willing to share the limelight in Brooklyn with D-Will? Or would he rather go somewhere where he is indisputably the "Face" of the franchise?
Ric, I'm sure you are getting a hundred Dwight questions, but can you narrow down who is on Dwight's list of possible places he'll go?
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
Here's the dilemma I have and I'm sure a lot of reporters and writers and analysts share it: I hear lots of things in my conversations with sources. Some of them I put in the interesting-but-not-likely-to-happen file. Some in the interesting-and-this-person-would-know file. Others in the need-to-keep-an-eye-on-but-not-ready for reporting file. Along with a half-dozen other categories. I like the idea of these chats being an conversation between me and fans, a barroom chat, if you will. I generally don't volunteer stuff, but if enough of you are asking the same question, I'll try to shed some light on what I know or believe to be true. If I said something here, I'd like to think it wouldn't be picked up by other news outlets and delivered as news, especially without even talking to or contacting me. That would be fair, right? But it's not working that way and I run the risk of making ESPN look bad -- here one of their reporter/analysts has said/written something creating traffic and hits for other outlets but he is not actually reporting it for them. So I'm going to clear something up from an inadvertent tweet yesterday. Yes, when I wrote "unlikely, he's not on their list and apparently prefers warm-weather cities" I was talking about DH and the chances he'd go to Boston. But from now on, I've decided to be more careful about what I write here. We all lose to some extent, but I have a responsibility to my employer. I'm also not wild about having my work picked up and transcribed, again with no one ever talking to me, and then taking shots at me, but that comes with the territory. Let's just say it doesn't impress me. Then again, I'm sure they couldn't care less how I feel about all that.
Slimchicken (Los Angeles)
Ric, I'm a firm believer that in basketball that you don't adjust to the other team, but make them adjust to you. If you're not the Lakers why not go huge if the Mavs try to go small?
Ric Bucher (2:16 PM)
Phil always has another card in his pocket to pull, a ripcord if you will. I believe that's the one he's been waiting to use. He went to it a bit in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
Your a liar (who cares)
check your chat from about 3 weeks ago. You said when asked if Derrick Rose is the MVP or deserving you said "i'll go out and say he's the best player on the planet" or something along those lines. I tweeted about it right at you immediately after you said it
Ric Bucher (2:17 PM)
You're right and I'll stand by it. I think he's the best player on the planet. Most talented? Maybe not. But intangibles take him over the top for me.
Ric Bucher (2:19 PM)
And I'm not trying to dance here. There's most talented and most gifted and then all-around best. I apologize for not being clear. Let me do it right here: I'd take Derrick Rose over any other player in the league right now to start my team. You can work out who is the best or the most talented or the rest or the most efficient or well-spoken or marketable or whatever. That's my choice.
Ric, you trying to set a record for chat time today? I'm trying to get back to work here brah!
Ric Bucher (2:20 PM)
Sorry. You're right. I've got to pack for Memphis.
Safe to assume you'll be chatting again tomorrow around 1 pm EST?
Ric Bucher (2:21 PM)
Not safe, but I deserved that one. Will be prepping for sideline work at Thunder-Grizzlies. Thrilled that I get to be back in Memphis for such a huge game. How often has anyone been able to say that?
Ric Bucher (2:22 PM)
Thanks to everyone for coming. Let me know by twitter what you think of the occasional longish brain spill at the end of these chats. Had a good response from the last one and may include one every week if you guys are up for it. Til next Friday. Or Thursday. Or whenever...