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!
Buzzmaster (1:11 PM)
Hang on folks. We're getting Ric.
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
Hey, everybody, I'm here, in the Miami annex of the chat room. Give me one minute and we'll get rolling.
While reading about possible destinations for Monta Ellis, I surprisingly saw Orlando as a possible landing spot. While he may be an upgrade for the Magic in some aspects, I just don't see D12 getting all excited and re-signing just because the Magic got Monta. Who would the Magic even give up in that scenario? Unless Arenas or Turk are involved it just wouldn't make any sense for the Magic contract wise, and Jerry West didn't build his reputation by trading for guys like that.
Ric Bucher (1:15 PM)
Monta would be an improvement for the Magic. I believe he's vastly underrated. He has the knock of not being a defender because the Warriors never emphasized it. But he has the requisite ability and I've seen him take the challenge and do a great job on several occasions.
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
By the way, I haven't heard Orlando as a destination. I've heard Iguodala to Orlando, but I don't see how the Magic put together a package that meets Philly's desires.
More annoying during-the-finals commercial: A) the espn ipad cowboy that screams "VAAAN GUNDY!", B) anything with the t-mobile girl, C) the "bad teacher" trailer with the "that's the only argument i need shawn!" lebron-jordan debate (even though it was funny the first time)
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
I'm going with the T-Mobile guy who says to his mom, "In your face!" Wrong on so many levels. And not funny.
Jerry (Ft. Worth)
this finals has to be one of the greatest since.... what, bulls-jazz in 98? celtics-lakers 85 (or 84?)? all these close games and lead changes and star power drama surely put it in the top 10, if not top 5-7.
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
It depends on how you're grading it. For pure basketball, it was pretty flawed basketball, Games 1-4. Game 5 was in a class by itself. But from a storyline, history-being-written-for-various-stars standpoint it has been as good as any I can remember.
Ric, your honest opinion on the Mark Jackson signing please?
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
I believe Mark has walked into an incredibly difficult job. Too many voices in the front office, a team that is on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs and new owners who have high expectations. That would be a lot for any coach. For a guy who has never even sat on a bench before in any capacity? Tall order.
Robert (Bucharest , Ro)
Do you think Iggy and Gay are on the same level but Granger is really a win for the team that he plays on? Do you think LAC would get one of these guys?
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
I'm not sure exactly what that means, but as far as pure talent, Gay is ahead of Iguodala or Granger. Iguodala is a better overall presence on your team than the other two, at least from what I've been told. Haven't covered them all up close, so I'm going on what I hear, rather than what I know firsthand. As with any situation, what the rest of your team looks like would determine which of them would be the best fit. It's not a matter of just getting the most talented guy. Unless you're playing fantasy basketball.
ramps (kampala, Uganda)
Ric I want to apologize. A lot of people including myself gave u a lot of heat for having the audacity to say lebron is not the best player in the league and totally ignored yo reasoning that he takes too many possessions off though he is the most naturally talented player. After watching games 3 and 4 of these finals and flashing back to games 4 and 5 against the celts last year..I dont see how any sane mind cant at least respect that opinion. now i get it Ric...Im not calling some guy who goes for 8 points in an NBA finals(while looking totally disinterested) the best player in the league
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
Somebody gave me flak for liking Derrick Rose over LeBron James? I must've missed that. But how noble of you to offer a mea culpa. Accepted.
Michael tyson front royal va [via mobile]
Hi ric do you think if the mavs beat the heat it will be the biggest over rated team to lose the nba finals or sports history? Thanks
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
Not from my perspective. I feel as if the Heat overachieved this season.
Rich (Point Pleasant, NJ)
Mavericks up 3 games to 2 and going back to Miami. I feel Dallas will win in 7 but what do the Miami Heat have to do to stop Nowitzki & company if they expect to win the Championship?
Everyone seems to talk about Dallas ball movement etc., but in 4 out of the 5 games, Miami has had more assists. The difference in the last few games for me is that Dallas has just made more tough shots than Miami has. What do you think?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
Since the end of Game 4, Dallas has been creating really good looks, far more than they had previously. I sense, more than anything, that the Heat's style of defense and the Mavs' ability to make them have to move from side to side has worn them down, especially their bigs. Traps aren't as good as they were.
Ric Bucher (1:31 PM)
Dallas coming to Miami, right now, also feels a lot to me like Miami going to Dallas in '06. They've got a head of a steam and a confidence that I'm not sure the Heat can counter. Let's put it this way: Mavs' best chance is to win in 6.
As a Miami man, I honestly am not concerned. We did what we had to do in Dallas by getting one win, ran them close for the other two games, and now we come back to Miami just needing to win 2 games at home. Call me irrational/overconfident/arrogant if you like, but I still feel like this is the Heat's series 100%.
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
That makes sense if you didn't actually watch the games.
I know Lebron has been passive, not stepping up etc... But for me, the biggest factor is he just isn't making shots. His midrange and 3-point game was a huge factor in the last two series, but for now it just seems to have deserted him. Your thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
That has always been the difference between LeBron when he goes off and LeBron when he's a, uh, facilitator. The problem for me is that his jumpers are not high-percentage shots. They're 3s off the dribble going sideways, or midrange step-back Js after holding the ball for six seconds. When he's feeling it, there's no answer for him. But those aren't dependable shots. And when he misses a few, he completely goes away from attacking and shooting altogether. That's the simplest explanation I can give for why LeBron can have, on occasion, huge games and then have perplexingly inconsequential ones.
You know, if the refs didn't blow that backcourt violation before halftime of game 3 that gave the Heat 3 points they didn't deserve, the mavs are already NBA champs.
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
Not legit. You could say that about two dozen calls every game. "If this happened, then..." Totally fallacious argument.
If I'm Miami, I have to be stoked that Dallas has got its ridiculous shooting night out of the way now right? There's no way they will do that again so Miami should at least be feeling better about that.
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Mavs don't feel that way. They've been waiting for the dam to break. They believe this is who they are. My only question is, do their role players play as well in Miami as they did in Dallas. I have to think Jet will be the same threat, but Barea? Does Brian Cardinal hit a 3 in Miami? DeShawn?
Why do you think the Heat are struggling to win against the Mavericks , when they already beat the Bulls and the Celtics in 5 games each?
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
Because the Mavs can put more scoring threats on the floor, particularly dribble penetrators. I didn't buy into the LeBRon-shut-down-Rose pablum because there were four guys who could focus on Rose at all times. Rose could've gone by LeBron any time he chose, just as jet has, but he had Udonis and Bosh and Wade waiting for him so that was running into traffic. When Jet or Barea turns the corner on LeBron, whoever is on Dirk certainly can't sag off. When they've sagged off DeShawn or Kidd or whoever, they've made them pay. That was something the Bulls never did after Game 1.
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
As for the Celtics, once Rondo was damaged goods, they didn't have dribble penetration, either. Not consistently. Swinging the ball around the perimeter plays right into the Heat's hands.
With the Bulls being talked about as a potential landing spot for Monta Ellis, how would you see a potential Rose-Ellis backcourt working out? It certainly gives the Bulls a 2nd guy who can create some offense, but are they too similar?
Ric Bucher (1:45 PM)
The only way they do that is if they trade Deng for Ellis. Which I don't see them doing, though I might. But financially they can't afford Ellis any other way.
What has been more entertaining: this finals series or the first round Celtics-Bulls series of a couple years ago?
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
Have to give it to this year's Finals. It has been great drama.
Ciscoskid (San Francisco)
Ric the weather is finally June weather in the Bay. I doubt that matters when you are in south beach. Would the Heatles be best served to run the triangle offense? They dont seem to have a philosophy on O other than Lebron and Wade taking advantage of matchups. It seems they have the perfect personnel to run the triangle. More overall talent than Jordans Bulls offensively? Just a question not a proclamation.
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
You have to have somebody A, who can coach the Triangle; B, players who have the skill set to play the Triangle; and, C, players who are willing to play the Triangle. I'm not sure I see any of those things in Miami. Cisco, the Heat are in the Finals. Their offense was good enough to get them here. They still could wind up winning a ring. Trust me, they're running the system that best suits the abilities and temperament of their players and coaching staff.
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
And, no, Spoelstra isn't the problem. He's done an incredible job guiding this team through injuries and high expectations and incredible scrutiny. Imagine, for a moment, that you had the greatest player in the game. But you never knew which nights he was going to play like the greatest player. How do you freakin' game-plan for that? Everyone believes you should win because you have that guy, but you don't reeeeeeallly have that guy. Not all the time. I'd be as ornery as Jon Barry if I had to do that job.
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
You know you've been waiting for it. Let's go rapid fire for 15. Two sentences are less for each answer. Here we go.
Do you have any information about Delonte West possibly being in the Dallas area prior to Lebrons game 4 performance?
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
That's just wrong.
Do you think the Bulls have any chance to acquire Dwight Howard?
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
Is enough credit being given to Rick Carlisle? The coach is doing a great job. He has his team playing at a high level and has all these veterans and his SUPERSTAR buying into the team concept and sacrificing personal accomplishments for the team.
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
Carlisle has been tremendous. The players also have rolled with him yanking them in and out of the rotation when they're not getting the job done.
Clay Defayette (New York)
Wade and LeBron mocking Dirk's fever? Coming from a guy who goes off in a wheelchair for a shoulder injury and someone who clocks out when he has a slight elbow injury?
Ric Bucher (1:54 PM)
I missed the mocking. Just heard two guys saying they expected him to still be great.
I guess you've seen the video of Lebron and Wade mocking Dirk? Why do they keep shooting themselves in the foot?
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
Obviously I missed something. I'll have to go find it.
JimBeau (Left Coast)
Whew!! Finally got both teams into triple digits last night. Defense is just a HUGE deal now in the NBA. Who in this year's draft class projects to be the best NBA defender at each floor position? Thanks, Ric
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
It's a great question, but GMs are looking at it like this: let me find a guy who can shoot/score and has the tools to be a great defender. Because if you can't put five threats on the floor, you have no chance against the advanced defenses of today.
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
And, in my defense on missing the mocking video, I was on a plane and am working on about an hour's sleep. Not that you care.
Ric, was that the most hollow triple double in Finals history?
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
I'd have to research it, but I will say this: I had a sense I knew what he was doing when he hunted down some random rebounds very early on.
Ric, imagine a world where we don't have basketball until January. Does that help or hurt players like Kobe and Garnett? I can't imagine either player has had 6 months to rest their knees since before they turned 16. Does that rest help? Or make it that much harder to rev back up to full speed and possibly cause more injuries?
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
Have to think it hurts them. The older you are, the harder it is to dial back up to NBA speed without injuring yourself in the process of dialing up.
chris y (Newport beach, ca)
I am a life long laker fan and I have personally seen Lebron man handle Ron Artest of all people in the post. Why are they not trying to give Lebron different looks in the post, top of the key etc. This is like rec league ball its either fast break lay ups and dunks or a tough shot by wade. Also, I think people should watch this and appreciate kobe's shot making ability and also his abililty to just get the ball ALWAYS.
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
You're not paying attention. LeBron had a dozen iso post-ups against JKidd in Game 4.
Ric!Thanks for taking my question. I heard you on a podcast before the finals saying that Miami will take it in 5. What didn't you expect Dallas to do that they did or what did you think Miami didn't do?
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
It's what Miami isn't doing. Their commitment to their defense has waned and their fourth-quarter offensive execution doesn't seem to be what it was.
J McMancus CBRU (Hopewell, NJ)
Bottom line Ric, who you like in Game 6? If Heat, who you got winning game 7?
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
I had Miami winning in 5, so I hate flipping. But it's hard for me not to think Dallas will win Game 6 with the Heat's bigs fatigued and Wade not 100 percent.
eric costa (brentwood)
Do you think its time to give dallas som credit it seems like reporters have been shrugging off their success since game one of the playoffs and made the lakers sweep seem more or less of l.a.'s failure then their success. Now their in the finals and its about brons meltdown do you think theirs enough credit especially when players such as tyson and marion are coming up huge and done even get post game press conferences shown on espn
Ric Bucher (2:03 PM)
They remind me a lot of the SF Giants last year. A motley crew that no one saw coming but everybody fell in love with for that very reason once they got it done.
This may be a boring question with an excellent Finals in progress but I am curious to find out what you think fair compensation for a franchised player will be (assuming franchise tag gets added in new CBA).
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
With a hard cap, you don't need the franchise tag. And it's not about fair compensation - it's where the owners want to peg it.
Hi Ric,Big fan all the way from Ukraine! You think they will ever bring an NBA team over to Europe?
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
I believe we will one day have an NBA European Division.
Hi Ric. Love your work. Does Dallas *have* to win game 6 to win the championship?
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
Can't answer that without knowing what happens in that Game 6.
Gary (Staples Center)
Any possible Laker moves to dicuss? Any rumors?
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
Have not heard a word. They seem to be one of those teams waiting to see what the new CBA looks like before they make any moves.
If the coach of the year vote was held after the playoffs Carlisle wins easily right? He is far and away the best coach of the post season.
Ric Bucher (2:07 PM)
Hard to argue that one, although I'd put Spoelstra right there, too. As a GM said to me the other day, it's not about putting your chess pieces in the right place these days, it's about managing your egos/personalities.
Brian Z. (Wisconsin)
Hey, Ric, I love the chats! Last night seemed like the most appropriate time for Lebron to be offensively-oriented, but he was standoffish. With that being said, is it possible that Lebron's role as 'facilitator' does more harm than good in terms of not maximizing his offensive output? It almost feels like the Miami Heat are becoming one-dimensional with Dwayne Wade, because Lebron has been nonexistent in terms of driving to the basket.
Ric Bucher (2:09 PM)
I find it interesting when someone suggested LeBron wasn't LeBron last night. Yes, he was; he just wasn't what a lot of people want, or think, he should be.
Will there be a Heat Index next year, or was that just a one-year experiement?
Ric Bucher (2:10 PM)
I asked that same question recently. I believe we will still have a Miami bureau, but I'm not sure we'll showcase it quite the way we did. But that's just a guess. I'm not privy to such decisions.
Don't you think LeBron is being criticized too heavily? I mean, if he were having a monster series and played awful in Game 6, he'd be torched way more than if Dirk does the same on Sunday.
Ric Bucher (2:10 PM)
Is he being criticized or psycho-analyzed? I'd opt for the latter.
Biggest disappointment on biggest stage: LBJ 2011 or Clubber Lange when he faced Balboa in the rematch
Ric Bucher (2:11 PM)
Clubber. He seemed genuinely dismayed and surprised by what happened.
Still take Pau Gasol over Dirk?
Ric Bucher (2:13 PM)
I'm trying to recall, did I take Dirk or Pau in that debate with Broussard? That was one of those where it was a pick' em.
Ric Bucher (2:13 PM)
That said, it's easy to suggest Dirk is the no-brainer now. You wouldn't have said that a year ago. So stop poaching.
Chris McGowens (North Carolina)
Why isn't Big Z activated, he would help space the floor for driving lanes, because u have to respect his jumper and he is 7 foot, would also take Chandler from the basket for more offensive rebounding chances.....play some zone instead of getting beat off the dribble to give up wide open threes Christopher McGowensNorth Carolina
Ric Bucher (2:14 PM)
Because he can't defend. And they've hitched their wagon to that.
Andrew (New York)
Ric, thanks for doing the chat. I felt bereaved when ESPN stopped doing daily NBA chats during the postseason. I don't know whether you'll take any draft/trade questions, but I'd be curious to know whether you think the Suns may move up to 2 to take Derrick Williams, and if so whether you think that's a good idea. Thanks! Have a great weekend.
Ric Bucher (2:14 PM)
Not taking draft questions this week because I'm not ready for any. But I hope to be next Friday.
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
Lot of questions I had to leave on the vine and we went kind of NBA Finals heavy. Hope the latter was OK with all of you. We'll do it again next week and I'll try to be on time. I'm out.
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