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 (1:01 PM)
Welcome to the last chat -- well, *my* last chat -- of the season. That doesn't mean we might not slip in a lockout chat if we're all going through withdrawals bad enough to warrant one. Keep in mind, I'm working on 45 minutes' of sleep, so if my sentences get a little convoluted or you suddenly see Welppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp, it means I've nodded off. With that, let's get going and hope for the best...
Ryan (Black Rock, AR)
Did the Mavs really do the right thing last night? I would have thought the upside and youth of Jordan Hamilton would be far better than a role player like Rudy. What say you?
Ric Bucher (1:03 PM)
If Mavs were rebuilding, keeping Jordan would make more sense. If they're playing for another ring, Rudy is a no-brainer. Let's put it this way: how much did Beaubois contribute to this title run? End of story.
Hey Ric, thoughts on Norris Cole. I have seen people love this pick and people who hate it. Will he be in miami's rotation and whats his upside? Additionally, will miami give some playing time to Dexter Pitman this year?
Ric Bucher (1:05 PM)
I credit the Heat for dealing their way into a first-round pick. I just don't like what they did with it. Whether it was Cole or anybody else, in this draft you're hoping to find a diamond in the rough. For what they need, I would've been looking for a PF/C diamond, rather than a PG. This smacks of creating a little bit of negotiating leverage/fallback position with Mario Chalmers.
I am confused, please un-confuse me. The Bulls could have upgraded SG by taking either Hamilton or Brooks at #23. They then could have used #30 to take Mirotic if he dropped as most observers thought he would or still could have taken Butler. What the plan at SG now?? Can't go with the duds they have now!
Ric Bucher (1:10 PM)
Bulls weren't drafting a starting 2-guard no matter who they picked. Butler is a great story, so they get a little PR pop and as a scoring swingman -- at least that's what I'm told he can be -- he has a chance to be on the roster and contribute.
Thoughts on the Warriors picks? What/who should they target in FA?
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
Loved the Klay Thompson pick. Great scorer, has potential to be rotation player right off the bat. Agent lives in Bay Area, so his transition should be helped. The second-round acquisition is a former client of asst GM Bobby Myers. Hey, doing a favor with a second-round pick in this draft means you did something with it. Which is way more than a lot of teams did.
You're Otis Smith. Assuming there are no miracle trades available that lets you get talent to keep Dwight happy, what do you do? Let Dwight walk, suck and accumulate draft picks to rebuild while the contracts of Turk and Arenas expire, or trade him for the best deal possible? Thanks!
Ric Bucher (1:15 PM)
The minute Dwight said he wasn't going to sign an extension, I let the world know that Dwight is available for trade and make the best deal I can. Not learning the lesson from LeBron and Cleveland or Bosh and Toronto is living in denial. Yes, I know Dwight has said he wants to stay in Orlando. With the stipulation that you build a championship-caliber team around him. How is that possible in one year with the talent and contracts Orlando currently has? Guys who plan to stay (KD) sign the extension without hesitation.
How are yesterday's second round picks going to be affected by the lockout (at least the ones who won't be stashed overseas)? Does it get harder to make a roster without a summer league and contact with coaches or does it actually get a little easier since they already know where they are going for camp and they might have an extra advantage over undrafted guys and free agents scrambling at the end of the lockout?
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
They certainly have a leg up on free agents and undrafteds, but for the overall good of their career, this is not the way to get started. There may be a lockout but the clock never stops ticking on a guy's career window. Not having a full summer and training camp to acclimate to the pro game is a huge disadvantage in the big picture for guys who are almost certain to be role players.
Hollinger had Irving and Tristan as the top 2 prospects this year. Most in Cleveland arn't sold on Thompson with Varejoe on the roster, How do you rate the Cavs' draft?
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
They played it safe with both picks. If you're the Cavs and trying to raise up out of the muck, playing safe isn't the way to go. I'm OK with taking Kyrie because you know you're getting some kind of value in taking a true PG, but they had a great chance to swing for the fences and get a potentially great player who would seem less likely to be enamored with playing in a bigger market for a star team. Take an international and make him a centerpiece for an NBA team and he's thrilled at the opportunity and confidence.
Is Shannon Brown and option for Chicago or last resort? Who do you think is most likely to available for Chi to sign?
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
Lots of questions like this in various forms -- and the simple truth is that there's no telling who they can get until we know what the new CBA rules are. If you don't want to wait and just want to fantasize, you're free to go in any direction -- Ray Allen, Jason Richardson, OJ Mayo, Joe Johnson or Stephen Jackson (via trade). But there's no way to say definitively unless they jump out and get someone in the next five days or so. Which I don't see happening.
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
it's that time. En fuego rapido, schnell feuer, you know...
Jay (Tacoma, WA)
Going into the draft, we all were hearing what an intriguing prospect Alec Burks was. Now everything is about how he can't shoot or defend. Is this sour grapes? Coming back down to earth after being overhyped early? Something else? Thank you!
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
Don't know where you're hearing negativity. I've heard nothing but good things about him from NBA people.
who got the better end of the 3 way trade? I think the Bucks did good getting a proven scorer over a streaky one.
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
Bucks dumped a guy they didn't like making a lot of $$ for three guys who can play for them. Really liked the deal for them.
Does Jonas Valanciunas project to be the best all around C in this draft and f not for his buyout would he have gone higher?
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
If teams knew he was fully available, he would've been the No. 1 pick.
George Hill--good or bad for Pacers? Will he start?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
Love the trade for Pacers. Undersized at 1, Hill can play with or in front of Collison. Lots of people feel Collison is a great-off-the-bench PG and merely an adequate starter.
Your favorite moment of the draft was...
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
I'll give you two. First, when Jay Bilas referenced Derrick Williams' "wingspan," immediately realized he'd said a word used in drinking games built around Jay's pet phrases and said, "Bottoms up, everybody!" Second: when Mark Jones had to navigate interviews with a string of international players whose English remains a tad rough. In conjunction with that, I believe Vesely, when asked if he was the Euro Blake Griffin, suggested Blake was the American Jan Vesely. If he did indeed say that, then that was my favorite moment.
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
And, yes, I detoured from rapid fire. Returning now.
Am I crazy for thinking it would've been smarter for the Sixers to trade Iguodala to Utah for Kanter - and then use their 16th pick for someone better than Vucevic. Who says no to that deal?
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
You're crazy. Utah couldn't just absorb Iguodala's contract and he better be worth more than the third pick in this year's draft.
Ric, I don't know what BC is thinking. Yes, talent-wise, Valanciunas is a good pick. But can we wait one more year? Are the Raptors already starting tanking for 2012 draft?
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
What fast track, exactly, are the Raptors on?
So will ESPN create a Jimmer Index website? ESPN Jimmer? One of the most overhyped players I have ever seen come into the league!
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Not sure you can put that on us. We didn't invent Jimmermania. Started with CBS and NCAA tourney, not us. If not earlier.
What r the chances the cavs can make a trade for Rudy gay, monta ellis or andre iguadala. If so what do the cavs need to give up for that trade to go through?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
Only way one of those happens, that I can see, is if they get one via their trade exception from the LeBron deal. I don't see that happening.
Can teams still trade before June 30?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
Reggie (Atlanta, GA)
Are the Hawks shopping Josh Smith? What are they asking for in return?
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
They called around to see what they could get. Didn't like anything they heard and are now sitting tight til new CBA is in place.
John (San Antonio)
Winner of the Spurs/Pacers trade? It hurts to see a contributor like Hill go, and I hope we're getting more than just avoiding paying Hill what he would have been owed after his current contract expires...
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
It's not often I don't like a Spurs' trade for SA, but this is one of them. Indy not only gets a long, athletic experienced young PG but a IUPUI alum.
Ludwig Hasbauer (Germany)
I absolutely don't understand the kings trade, and I really think petrie regrets it now that knight would have been available as well! but why take on salmons contract AND move down in the draft???
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
Lot of speculation out there that the Maloofs weighed in heavily on this deal.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Wow the Milwaukee Bucks are a mess. They traded head cases signed to bad contracts for head cases signed to bad contracts. Furthermore they moved back in the first round to miss out on a bunch of pretty good prospects between 10 and 18. At 19 the Bucks could have righted the ship by taking Faried, unfortunately they took Harris. What are your thoughts on all the craziness going on in Milwaukee?
Ric Bucher (1:45 PM)
Couldn't disagree more. Shaun and Beno aren't headcases and StackJack, when handled honestly, could be very good. If nothing else, he's an asset. More than Maggette was.
Was it just me or did it seem like the last few picks in the second round sounded like a United Nations role call? Even Fran seemed surprised to see those many international players drafted.
Ric Bucher (1:47 PM)
A GM told me late last night that a lot of teams, anticipating a lockout and not seeing a player they just had to have, decided to pick players they absolutely knew wouldn't try to come over. Pick a U.S. player and chances are he has an agent who has some other player you *really* might like. Now you've got to play nice with him to have a shot at the other guy. Drafting dudes from Quatar is the closest thing to taking a pass the GMs could do.
Whats the chance there is no basketball this year?
Ric Bucher (1:48 PM)
I'll give it a 50 percent chance.
Biggest reach: T Thompson cavs at 4. Biggest steal: MarShon Brooks Nets 25. Thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
Valanciunas was the biggest steal at 5. Shumpert to the Knicks might've trumped Tristan.
Thoughts on the Pistons getting Knight at 8? I saw him as a top 5 pick. Any chance that they return to the glory days of the Bad Boys if they actually hire a certain coach who they've interviewed?
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
I'd say they see in him another potential Chauncey Billups. I believe they saw some of that in Rodney Stuckey, too. It was the most sensible pick with where they were picking and who was left.
Jonathon Spunar (Livonia, MI)
How do you see the Pistons doing the next couple of years with a new owner and hopefully some good draft picks?
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
Joe Dumars has been unshackled and gets to be a GM again. I believe he will show he hasn't lost his ability to build a perennial championship contender given the opportunity.
Chuck (Chicago, IL)
Ric do you think the Bulls attempt to package a deal including Taj Gibson to either get a top tier shooting guard or another big playmaker? Taj will most likely leave via free agency because he will want to starters money.
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
Where is he going to get that money with a pending new, more restrictive CBA?
Why is drafting and stashing foreigners legal but drafting underclassmen/high school players and waiting for them to declare isn't? This double standard makes no sense to me.
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
An international player still has to a certain age to be drafted. You could draft a 19-year old American and put him in the D League or over in Europe and still own his rights.
Explain to me how Joe Dumars being shackled led to the Ben Gordon and Charlie V contracts? Does the media ever blame Dumars for any of his many missteps?
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
I believe he's taken his share of hits for those signings. Here's my question: who should he have signed instead? Who could he have gotten? He's in Detroit. Cleveland North. How many GMs have built a team that had the kind of run Billups-Sheed-Prince-Rip-Big Ben had? I can think of, maybe, three.
Thoughts on the Wolves' draft?
Ric Bucher (2:03 PM)
I'm actually OK with it. It was busy as heck, but they methodically walked themselves out of this draft and into the future, outside of Derrick. To me, that was the smart play with this draft.
Chuck (Chicago, IL)
The point was the Bulls aren't going to pay Taj when they're already paying Boozer, Noah, and Deng and will have to pay Rose the maximum soon.
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
The point is, under a hard cap where is he going to go? What if the Bulls' $2.5 million under the current cap is the best he can do? if anything, owners are going to tilt the rules even harder toward teams being able to re-sign their own. My point is, you're making assumptions that can't be made right now.
Why is Iggy still a Sixer?
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
Because they're going through a sale of the team. I've been told the new ownership doesn't want any significant deals made until they're officially under control. So my prediction that Ig would be dealt by July 1 could be in danger. But I still believe, short of rules that prohibit it, he'll be dealt before the end of the next season. Whenever that might be.
If there's no 11-12 season, can the Bobcats be given the top pick next year based purely on roster?
Ric Bucher (2:07 PM)
With the young core of players theyve assembled how good do you think Utah can be 5 years down the road? Legit title contender?
Ric Bucher (2:10 PM)
I'm not overwhelmed by their young talent. They have a logjam of expensive bigs, by and large, that don't include a shotblocker. I like what they did in this draft, but they've got a ways to go. Legit title contender? They need to find another player on Deron Williams' level before they can even think about being a playoff team again.
the spurs hill trade was fantastic. did you know they got the best young shooter in europe and the best big man in europe right now (erazem lorbek of fc barcelona) in the same deal? if they get those two players after the lockout year they are favourites with miami for the title.
Ric Bucher (2:12 PM)
If they could cryogenically preserve Tim Duncan and keep him as he is right now they wouldn't be a favorite to win a title in two years. Last I heard, Tiago Splitter was the best big man in Europe when he came over. Sorry, that's not carrying a whole lot of weight with me these days.
Josh (Knoxville, TN)
Last season you said the Spurs were lacking defensively. Hill wasn't going to fix that & he couldn't guard 3's. Leonard is said to be (one of) the best defenders in the draft. What's wrong with losing a guy who wasn't going to solve one of your needs in order to get a guy who has the potential to (plus a couple big men)?
Ric Bucher (2:13 PM)
Because it doesn't change the core issue, which is that the Spurs need to turn the page and rebuild. TD-Manu-Tony is no longer a championship-caliber nucleus. Much as I hate saying that because I respect the heck out of them, it makes it no less true.
The Nuggets gave up Raymond Felton and got a 36 year old PG and a big Project in Hamilton. Dallas gets Rudy Fernandez and Portland gets Felton. I feel the Nuggets didn't really get a whole lot out of this deal considering what was being discussed previous to the draft. Did the Nuggets get fair comp in this trade? Or could they have done better?
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
It's not as much as I hoped for them, but Hamilton will be the key. They couldn't keep Felton and if that was the best they could do, so be it. At least you have a hope of playing Miller and Ty together. Size-wise, playing Ty and Ray together simply didn't work. Aside from the fact Ray desperately wanted out.
Ric Bucher (2:16 PM)
Not sure how I did today, but I've got to move on to other things today. Thanks for coming in and joining me. Hope I entertained you for at least a little bit. Here's hoping the spectre of a long lockout is a mirage and we lose no more than summer league. See you on the other side...
Ric Bucher (2:17 PM)
Tells you how tired I am. Today twice in the same sentence. Probably not the only mistake I made, but clearly time to sign off. Later.