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 (1:19 PM)
So much for that New Year's resolution. Sideline duties, along with wanting to know who Sarah Spain is and why she was re-tweeting my news on Derrick Rose (he's playing) distracted me.And if you don't know who Spain is, it's worth finding out.On to the chat...
Hey Ric, I'm getting my question in early!So I thought Ibaka would have a huge year and take a step forward as one of the leagues dominant power forwards, but Scott Brooks has been so stingy with his minutes...just 20 a game! Any idea why he isn't getting the playing time he deserves?
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
Since you were first, I'll take and answer this one first: big part of it is that Kendrick Perkins came back in fabulous shape, so he's getting minutes. The second part is that playing Ibaka and Perk together creates an issue getting KD open. Neither of the bigs is a big enough offensive threat that a team can't double KD with impunity on a screen. Didn't get a chance to look at his fouls, but he's been prone in the past. Fact is, this is a crazy season and playing deep benches will be key across the league to keep guys from getting worn out by the schedule.
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
Interesting stat: last two years, no more than 326 players played 10-plus minutes. This year, currently, 354 are on pace.
Ric, What do you make of Pau Gasol's play so far?
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
He looks like a guy who saw his current life flash before his eyes, saw a second life playing in Houston flash before his eyes, and hasn't recovered.
Ricky Rubio has been Brilliant. But it seems like the media has a pretty big man crush on him right now. Irving put up 26 and 6 in 28 minutes last night. Where's the love!
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
It's the way of the world. Rubio has been a revelation. But he's coming off the bench and the TWolves are still 3-7, last I checked. As for Irving, he's been inconsistent and doesn't have near the flash that Rubio has. I don't put total stock in numbers reflecting performance, especially if they don't equate to wins.
If the bulls were able to bring in Howard and he is willing to sign and extension. Who would they have to give up in a trade- Boozer and Noah, Deng and Noah?? i know Noah will be a must have but what else?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
Nets, Mavericks, Lakers. Those are the fan bases who can talk about getting Howard and what it would take. Everyone else, stop. It's not worth your time or mine.
Any word on Rose's availability tonight?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
He told me he's playing, though he walked out of shootaround still wearing an open boot on his left foot.
A lot of people are seeing them as the next dynasty, but how big is the window the Thunder truly have ? With this roster, of course. Cause Durant and Perkins are already getting big # and Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Maynor will ask for significant raises or in some cases almost max deals. Don't they have like two more years and that's it?
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
It's a very fair question. They're going to have to be more shrewd than most with they $ and that Perkins deal could come back to bite them, no matter how well he plays. Know this: they won't be able to keep Russ, Harden, Ibaka and Maynor. I'd say 2 of the 4 is probably the most realistic scenario.
Niyi Ganiu (Abuja, Nigeria)
What prevents the @Lakers from signing a proven PG in the Nate Robinson mold. Or any other free PG that can give them a good backcourt depth. D FisH and Steve Blake do little or no playmaking duties
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
Lakers would like to upgrade at PG, but not just any young, athletic PG will do. Nate had a great performance vs. the Heat and he's not a bad fit with the Warriors. But their offense is entirely different than the Lakers'. You need a strong defender who is a great catch-and-shoot guy. Neither of those things describes what makes Nate (sometimes) great.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Best & the Worst NBA Team so far this season?
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
Wizards have to be the most disappointing, though the Pistons aren't far behind. I didn't expect either of them to be great, but I'm shocked at how non-competitive they've been at times. Both are too young to be that way.
It looks like Dallas might be sellers this year do you think there would be a way to get Jason Terry into a Chicago Bulls Uniform. I think he would be the perfect complement on a team that needs instant offense off the bench even tho the bench has come thru big in crunch time.
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
Don't see it. Dallas doesn't want to take on money and last I checked Bulls don't have an expiring contract big enough to fit the bill. By the way, I can't help but think that Mark Cuban knows he's going to get Deron Williams or Dwight Howard - or both - by the way he's positioning his team to have cap space. And keep in mind, he has a great relationship with the agent for both players. JKidd is a Jeff Schwartz (Deron) guy and Dan Fegan (DH) has Shawn Marion.
Jeremy H (Minneapolis)
Beasley, Ridnour and Wes Johnson to Nyets for Morrow, Farmar, and Damion James? Who says no?
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
I have to assume you're a Nets' fan who has infiltrated Minneapolis. No other explanation as to why you would want to do NJ such a favor.
The Pacers might be better, long term, without Danny Granger. They're in an interesting position, though, in that they're below the cap and don't need to dump Granger for salary cap reasons. Is there a market for Danny Granger? He'd be interesting on the Clippers, but I don't know what they could send back . . .
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
Not as big as you'd think, although I know some in the GSW camp would deal Monta Ellis for him. He's in that range of second-tier swingmen -- Iguodala, Ellis, Rudy Gay -- who are seen as very good but wildly overpaid. There are concerns Eric Gordon is the next to join them. And forgive me if I left your favorite overpaid swingman off my list. I'm sure I did.
Ric, put yourself in new Pistons owner Tom Gores' shoes: how much patience do you have with Joe Dumars? Dumars has engineered a complete mess with more bad contracts than tradeable assets on the roster and attendance is currently lowest in the league.
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
Honestly, I'd have a lot of patience. Dumars built a team that was a title contender for a good six-year stretch in a very, very tough market without the benefit of a No. 1 pick. He obviously knows the formula. His hands were tied for a good stretch by the previous ownership because they were selling the team and didn't want to do anything that might cost a dime. I actually like several of the pieces they've picked up in the last few years (Jerebko, Monroe, Knight), which is why I'm disappointed they're not better.
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
I know I've been longwinded, so let's go rapid fire til the top of the hour...
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
Oh, and Jeremy from Minneapolis: you can stop sending questions. I unfortunately picked your worst one, but you've hit your limit, nonetheless.
I've been positing to friends that the Wizards are being really sneaky - they're going to tank the whole season, get a great draft pick, amnesty Blatche (shocker!), make a big trade w/Lewis's expiring deal, fire Flip, and have a brand new team next year. Is there any chance this is what's going to happen? If not, what the heck is the plan in Washington (basketball plan, that is)? Thanks for the chat!
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
As good a theory as any.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Still think Westbrook will be better than Durant like you suggested to Bill Simmons on a podcast back in June?
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
Yes. You must've missed my top 7 on SC the other day. Created a bit of a stir. Except from those who actually listened to my explanation.
In recent comments Kobe said he dislikes the Suns but wouldnt it be a great move on LA's part if they could steal Nash away for almost nothing or a couple expiring contracts to help direct the Lakers offense
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
Nash still can be effective, but they need a defensive stopper, first and foremost at 1.
Alex (Sydney, Australia)
Love your analysis and follow it closely. You once said that Lebron James had been given the keys to be the best player ever and was by far the most gifted player ever. Will he ever be in the GOAT discussion again? I would say not.
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
Hard to imagine. Too many things already have happened that are not GOATesque.
Brian M (Lake Highlands)
Hey Ric, so far this season the Mavs have actually played better defense STATISTICALLY this year than last. Are they actually better at defense this year or are teams just rusty on offense??
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
The latter. Check the overall offensive stats. They're not a good defensive team right now.
anthony l.a. calif [via mobile]
will kobe bryant get mvp this season ?
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
Don't see it because I don't think there's any way he can keep up his current pace. He's having to work incredibly hard for everything he gets, and that's with fundamentals that allow him to get shots and baskets easier than most players.
Philip Morton (Los Angeles)
Do you think Deandre Jordan deserves to be an All-Star?
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
The center position is pretty sparse. It's not that sparse.
Ric, no one from ESPN wants to step up and take on this question/trade scenario. If I were Miami I'd consider a Lebron for Dwight Howard deal. It works for Miami and for Orlando, can you land anything bigger than LBJ for Dwight, signed for another 5 years? I just see that deal being great for both teams, what do you think?
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
It's a very intriguing idea and I floated it to someone in Dwight's camp. They said, "Hmmmm. Interesting." Which is better than no. By the way, scratch the Dwight with LeBron scenarios. I'm told he doesn't want to play with him for a variety of reasons.
Dan (Scottsdale, AZ)
Sure the Sixers are young and playing well and growing - but don't they need to turn som of those young assets into a star?
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
To be a title contender, yes.
Morgan (New York)
Is it time for a coaching change in NY?
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
I can't say that because I don't know who you bring in to fix that team. But I've never seen anyone look as consistently unhappy as D'Antoni looks.
Ric Bucher (2:00 PM)
By the way, I've taken some flak from Knicks' fans for saying Imam Shumpert was a bad pick for them. That's different than saying he's a bad pick. Last night is Exhibit L as to why. That shot selection is unconscionable.
Brandon (New Jersey)
Do you think the San Antonio Spurs have a problem that they are winless on the road? Will that hurt them during the playoffs?With the Manu injury do you think that Kawhi Leanord or Danny Green are legitimate options to take his spot?
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
Heard nothing but good things out of SA about Kawhi, but no one replaces Manu.
Should the Clippers offer whatever they can to get Mike D'Antoni to be their coach?
Ric Bucher (2:03 PM)
Goes to show, one man's junk is another man's jewels. Wait, that sounds sooo wrong. One man's hooptie is another man's sweet ride. Much better.
With Otis Smith stating they won't trade Howard until after the All Star Game, and with Bynum getting more touches offensively are the Lakers and Orlando going to trade straight up Howard/Bynum with draft pics? Are the Lakers and Nets talking a Pau/Williams trade?
Ric Bucher (2:07 PM)
Everyone I've talked to in the league just can't see it. LA picks just aren't high enough, for one. And if you're Orlando, no matter how well Bynum is playing, you can't hitch everything to him. You need picks and another young player to at least cover you from coming up empty if Bynum goes down again. But waiting until after the all-star break really screws up both the Lakers and Nets. For the Lakers, it means waiting until it may be too late to find a groove for this year with Howard, and if it costs both Gasol and Howard to get him, are you really that much better this year? That's why Lakers are contemplating moving Gasol to improve now. Which would take them out of the Howard race if they did.
FamousJuan (Orlando, FL)
LBJ's quote after the Heat loss to the Clips Wednesday has to be shocking! "We defended and gave ourselves a chance to win, and that's all you can ask for; we can be satisfied; You don't like to lose, but we're not going to hang our heads about this one." Is this not incredibly alarming? He's LeBron, his commitment to success and winning have been questioned in the past. He's playing in LA, against a good and very publicized team on the rise. I understand that you're not going to win them all, but is this response not something that should call to question all the MVP and greatest ever talk? I mean, that's a Vince Carter soundbyte...
Ric Bucher (2:09 PM)
It was alarming to me, too. You can dismiss the result as not being characteristic of this Miami team this year, but to suggest you were satisfied with your execution and just missed a few free throws and everything else was good...can't agree and I'd think you'd want to stray on the side of, "Yes, we really need to tighten up our ship." But it's not the first time LeBron has given us a head scratcher.
adeian (los angeles)
Is Kevin love a player you can build a team around or is he just a complimentary player? If starting a team would you select him over Blake griffin.
Ric Bucher (2:14 PM)
Blake is not as far along as people make him out to be. But at least the Clippers can play through him. Kevin, who I have the utmost respect for, simply isn't that kind of player. Put it this way: how many title-contending teams had a three-point-shooting, offensive-rebounding PF as their best player? Or second-best? And while he has done everything to shore up his defense, he's always going to be handicapped at that end somewhat. On a really, really good team, he's your third-best player.In short: I'd take Blake.
What is going on with Noah and Boozer? How come they can't play together?
Ric Bucher (2:17 PM)
It's a fair question. I'm working sideline tonight and will have a better answer next week. One thing I'm surprised by this year: the number of balls slipping through Joakim's hands. Don't remember that being a problem in the past. Wonder if his thumb injury is completely gone.
Ric Bucher (2:18 PM)
My time is up. On the sideline tonight and in LA for Clippers-TWolves next Friday. But that will be on the west coast so a 10 am chat shouldn't be hard to make on time. Thanks for sticking around and providing all the great questions...