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)
Hello, everybody. Hope you're not in the path of the tsunami. I also hope you didn't go out to the cliffs to check out the potential tsunami like my family apparently did with me back in Bristol...Anyway, convo for another time. Let's get started...
The Lakers will go as far as Pau Gasol allows them.T/F
Ric Bucher (1:05 PM)
Interesting thought. He certainly was MIA in MIA last night. Ultimately, though, it comes down to Kobe being able to still create good looks for himself with a game on the line.
From The 3s (Boston, MA)
Hi Ric, I know along with the CBA the owners have an adjacent concern about revenue sharing. If the new CBA guarantees that every team will still make money, there still seems to be an issue with certain franchises not getting much at the gate. I'm all for 30 teams, but isn't it possible that in today's economy that some cities are no longer NBA Markets? European division, anyone?
Ric Bucher (1:05 PM)
You're definitely on to something. I believe a Euro division is closer than the league or anybody else is willing to admit.
What's your opinion on Brandon Jennings?
Ric Bucher (1:08 PM)
Just saw him play, working Bucks-Celtics sideline. Love his spirit and his attacking style. But he plays at one speed all the time and by the 4Q, defenses adjust, no matter how fast you are. Needs to amplify his ability to manage a game, both for himself and his team. Unfortunately, he's playing in an era of big and quick PGs and he's only one of those.
Why don't the Heat have Wade run the point for them? Isn't he a clear upgrade over anyone else they have available?
Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
They've tried that, both offensively and defensively. Their biggest issue is they can't defend quick PGs. Last night's win aside, they have some issues that can't be resolved this season.
Was Kobe's postgame workout more leadership, than anything else. Show his team how much he wants it, and how much they have to work to get it.
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
That was just flat-out bizarre. To me, it's a reflection of Kobe trying everything and anything to show, A) he wants it more than anybody else B) losing twice to Miami is absolutely eating him alive C) opponents should still fear him. It used to be he did A and C in the actual games and therefore B never would become an issue.
Dan (New York)
Conference Finals predictions, gun to your head right now?
Ric Bucher (1:13 PM)
Bulls vs. Celtics, Lakers vs. Spurs.
Quick thoughts on Charlie Sheen? specifically compared to what you witnessed with Stephon Marbury's meltdown online.
Ric Bucher (1:16 PM)
Completely different as far as catalyst. Sheen clearly has a substance issue -- either he's taking too much or is crazed from not taking anything. I just feel as if Steph was abandoned by the game and the league that was at the center of his life and was grasping for something else to anchor him. All that, of course, is pop psychology. The one similarity: both were not served well by the instant worldwide access we all have to showcase our demons.
Do you think Dwight Howard is that missing piece for the NY Knicks.
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
Goodness, no. They already have a bit of a post jam with Melo and Amare.
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
Ding-ding-ding. Time for some rapid-fire action...Here we go...
Ric, awesome article on Derrick. You can start a franchise with either DRose and JNoah or RWestbrook and KDurant, who do you take?
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
Rose and Noah. Both can defend and Noah is enough of a factor offensively. And their talents mesh incredibly well.
Ryan (Washington, DC)
Billups signed a contract knowing it was a team option with DETROIT, who if anyone owed him it was Detroit, no one else. Billups should be auditioning for his contract next year, be it NY or elsewhere agreed?
Ric Bucher (1:19 PM)
Agreed. if Knicks don't exercise his $14 million option, I don't see him staying in NY.
Is Doc Rivers being overlooked as a Coach of the Year candidate?
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
As soon as I start rapid fire, our chat page freezes. Bear with me...
Marvin (New York)
Would your view on NYK as a top team change if they had Dalenbert as their center?
Ric Bucher (1:21 PM)
do you think chris bosh will continue to play more aggressively after the performance he put up against the lakers?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
He might. But he exploited a slow-footed, mildly interested Pau Gasol last night. Bosh isn't a go-to post player I would count on. There's a reason they moved him to the high post after the first 17 games.
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
Wow. Thanks, chat Gods. Feed all screwed up. To answer Doc COY of year question: yeah, he's probably being overlooked in that he's not mentioned. But the field is crowded. Popovich is at the top of my ballot right now, and both Nate and Tom Thibodeau deserve heavy consideration. I'd say Erik Spoelsta does, too, for all he's had to put up with, but I doubt that gets much traction.
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
We're going to start rapid-fire over now. Solid 10 minutes. Let's get it. Set your heart monitors. Here we go...
Matthew (Columbia, NJ)
Hey Ric, does Doug Collins deserve some consideration for coach of the year?
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
Monta Ellis (Oakland)
Ric: Help, I'm a good player on a defense-free team. (Not that I have shown much signs of playing lockdown D myself.) Is there any hope for us?
rick what is up with GS and Keith Smart not playing Jeremy Lin over Acie Law?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
I just love that people still care about the Warriors. I'm not getting any questions about the Cavs or TWolves.
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
Lin is not a NBA-caliber PG. He's a tweener. As for hope for Ws, the new owner seems like a smart, involved guy. That's your hope.
Phil (New York)
since chicago will probably need an upgrade at their 2 guard? is there a good chance tracy mcgrady will be that 2 guard to be signed in the summer? would GM paxson and the bulls like to have him? i personally believe they should get him because he can everyone around him better with the likes of noah, omer asik, etc. your thoughts buc?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
They can do a lot better than that.
Colton (Miami, FL)
I was really impressed by Bibby last night, he hit a couple of really big threes. I know he isn't there yet, but do you see the potential for him to be a top 5 point guard in the league?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
I don't know why, but I just love this question. If you see me laughing to myself on NBA Tonight tonight, it's because I'm thinking again about this question.
Jason Wilson (Pittsburgh,PA)
I see that fans are trying to keep the kings in Sacramento will the fans really save the kings or will they probably relocate anyway and do you still see the hornets staying in New Orleans?
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
Every indication is that team is already out the door, unless the fans take up a collection and raise the $100 million the Maloofs are apparently going to get for moving to the OC. I fully expect NO to be elsewhere -- Seattle would be my best bet -- in two years, too.
Ric, call me crazy, but I think the Nuggets are a VERY dangerous playoff team. I promise you the Lakers do not want to see them in the playoffs. 10 pairs of young legs spells disaster for LA. Thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:33 PM)
You need a go-to scorer in the playoffs and the pace slows way down. I like that Nuggets' fans are enthused about their new team, but it's not a dangerous playoff team.
omar (bronx ny)
what did u think of wades D on kobe in the second half?
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
I only saw segments of the game as I made my way from the west coast to Bristol. Bigger issue is Kobe still trying to prove he can play at Wade and LeBron's athletic level. I don't think he can. Has to be smarter.
Karl (Puerto Rico)
Is it safe to assume that we're going to see a Miami Heat v.s OKC Thunder finals matchup in the next 5 years?
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
No, not safe to assume.
Do you see the Bulls as serious championship contenders for the next few years? And if not, what moves should they make?
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
I do. They need a true center and an inside-outside scoring wing.
Ryan (Casper, WY)
How worried should the Lakers be if they draw Portland in Round 1? Blazers have two excellent defenders to throw at Kobe, have a great crunch-time lineup with Miller-Roy-Batum-Wallace-Aldrige, and have historically owned the Lakers at the Rose Garden.
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Blazers have same problem as Denver. I love how they've soldiered through this season of adversity. But who is their go-to scorer, the guy who creates something out of nothing with the game on the line? Have to have that guy and everybody has to know who that guy is for a team to function under playoff pressure.
Is D Rose enough of an alpha dog to become the next Kobe? He reminds me more of a Duncan.
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
I wondered that last year. I don't now. He has more balance to his game than Kobe, as far as getting his own and utilizing teammates. but when it comes to winning time, he's not deferring to anyone. He wants the responsibility.
How far do you think this heat team will go and how many championship will they eventually win.
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
I expect them to at least reach the second round. Championships? One. Maybe.
Has the Bulls' Gar Forman done enough to vault past Pat Riley and win Executive of the Year, or will signing "the big three" trump building a cohesive team?
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
No. Gar has done a decent job, but the Bulls' success can be attributed to 1. Derrick Rose. 2. Derrick Rose. 3. Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls SG's are very bad, it may turn out to be their fatal flaw. Do you think the Bulls should have traded Gibson for C Lee? I think it would be easier to have found a replacement for Gibson then fund a SG that can actually shoot like Lee. Maybe they could have even gotten Lee for their 2 #1's this year? Agree?
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
Absolutely not. 2s are much easier to find than 4s. Taj is vastly underrated and with Boozer being such a defensive liability at times, you have to have a quality second 4.
Brian, Puerto Rico [via mobile]
Do you thinl Gilbert Arenas will get to be at lease a glimpse of what he was? If so, by playoffs this year or next year?
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
He's a microfracture guy and I've made my thoughts about those guys well known. His bigger issue is that he made his bones having carte blanche on underdog teams. Being great on a great team is a different ask. Requires efficiency that he's never had to have. Beginning to have doubts he can get there.
You dont see Noah as a true center for the Bulls? What position is then?
Ric Bucher (1:47 PM)
If you could play Noah at 4 or mix and match him with a true post-scoring C you'd have something lethal. He's a bit like Varejao for me. Smart, great defender, better on offense than you think. But we're talking championships here. Bar is higher.
What are your thoughts on Michael Beasley?
Ric Bucher (1:47 PM)
Amazing talent. Looks as if he's fighting some demons we can't see, too.
Walter (Boston, MA)
So Rajon Rondo shoots FT's atrociously. At what point do teams start a hack a rajon to disrupt the Celtics end game offense and get them one point per possession (if they're lucky) on average?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
It's an interesting thought. Cs can too easily run their offense through someone else, though -- and you're going to have to foul early, when he's 30 feet from basket. Now you're giving them a point ( or 2) rather than seeing if you can defend. Hack-a-whoever is always a desperation move. Completely kills the flow of the game, which is bad for both sides.
In my opinion, an underrated story line right now is how much of a liability Derek Fisher is. With him on the floor, it always feels as though LA is playing 4 on 5. I'm not sure if he does anything well, refs aren't even calling his flops anymore. What are your thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
It's a fair point. But Derek hasn't looked good for much of the last few regular seasons, struggled at times in the playoffs and then come through when they needed him most. We'll see if he's got another one of those rabbits in his hat.
But aren't the Blazers and Nuggets in better position because the other teams won't know who to key in on at the end of the game? And that they each have 7-10 guys who can make buckets?
Ric Bucher (1:54 PM)
The NBA doesn't work that way. Miami has a problem deciding between two guys and it's screwing them all up. A team needs to know who is taking the shot and where and when he's usually going to take it from, so they can be ready for A) a pass if he gets stuck and B) to get the rebound if he misses. That's where LeBron, aside from his hesitancy in taking the big shot, is not effective in last-second situations: it looks as if he's making it up as he goes along every time. I'm still not sure what his sweet spot on the floor is, nearly eight full seasons into his career.
Tony (San Antonio)
I have to disagree Ric, who was the Superstar for the Pistons? I mean real end of the game superstar. Billups and Hamilton were very good, but great? Really?
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
Billups was great the year they won their championship. The Pistons were the most unusual championship team we've seen in years, but they all knew Big Shot was going to have the ball and make a play at the end of games. Sheed was their most talented player, but Billups was their closer. Not even a question.
Marty (Dallas, TX)
So Aldridge doesn't qualify as a go-to guy? Wow, that's a ridiculously high bar for being a go-to guy you've got there, Bucher
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
We are talking championships, right? LA has the ability, no question. Hasn't always had the temperament. Has more of it this year, but there are times he still doesn't exploit his matchup. And bigs as your go-to guy are always suspect because a defense can deny them the ball long enough to make a last-second shot a prayer.
How much effect will the potential lockout have on the Nets chances of resigning Deron Williams? If I'm thinking right, a lockout means players can't be traded or signed which was one of the selling points to Deron - 'we'll get stars'.
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
There will be a free-agency period after the lockout and before the next season, but your point is valid. It's why Utah traded him when they did. NJ will have a chance, but it will be truncated if there's a lockout.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
When John Hammond took over as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks he made a series of good moves that lead to the Bucks making the playoffs last year. Since then, Hammond made a series of questionable moves: traded for Maggette, signed Gooden, resigned Salmons, and went 0 for 4 in the 2010 NBA Draft. After letting the trade deadline go by without making any moves it looks like a lost season for the Milwaukee Bucks at this point right?
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
Bucks' season isn't over. I see them snaring that 8th seed. Charlotte has bowed out and Pacers are collapsing. Milwaukee hasn't been healthy all season-- impossible to gauge this team or Hammond's moves at this point.
Hey Buch, with a lower and perhaps harder cap coming everyone assumes the Knicks/Heat etc won't be able to add good enough pieces to their core but won't everybody be over the cap? Won't that mean players will have to settle for much less therefore giving these teams a better chance?
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
It's a matter of degrees. Miami, and especially New York, have a ton of money invested in a small group of players. Almost every other team has a better tiered salary structure or stars that will be signed under the new rules (i.e., Chicago and Rose). Besides, I just don't see guys clamoring to play for less with the guys in Miami or NY. Guys do that, generally, with a big who can make the game easier for them or a point guard who can. Neither of those teams have one of those. There's a reason Miami had to pay Mike Miller a fortune (for him) to come down there. The idea that guys are dying to play with LeBron is not based in reality.
Ric, any chance Denver catches OKC for the fourth seed? Either way I'm really excited about the way we are playing.
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
And I'm excited that you're excited.
Seen how bad this year's NBA draft is supposed to be do you still think the Nets package for Melo was better then the Knicks'? I look at the last 5 drafts and I amazed you would value draft picks over established NBA players like Chandler, Gallo and Felton- the draft is a crap shoot
Ric Bucher (2:09 PM)
Can't forget my guy with the first question, and a good one: upon further review, I believe you -- and Masai Ujiri -- could be right. He went with the bird in hand in taking the Knicks' deal over the Nets. The one advantage with picks is you can get players who fit your system and needs. It might sound weird to say, but I believe Mozgov could end up being the tipping point. There are some scouts who like his upside more than Favors'. We'll see. Bottom line: Denver got players they can turn into first-round picks later if they so choose.
Steve (Boston, MA)
I'd bet the leftover guys in Cleveland and their record losing streak are clamoring to play with Lebron, no?
Ric Bucher (2:10 PM)
Not so sure about that.
Jared (Sultanate of Oman)
What do you think of the Bulls line up with Asik and Noah. Don't they already have that legit 7 footer to allow Noah to play the 4 when they need to go big? He will develop offensively, and is a beast on boards and defense.
Ric Bucher (2:11 PM)
Don't want to discount Asik, but I haven't seen a back-to-the-basket game from him just yet. Another energy guy. Good energy guy, but energy guy nonetheless.
Dennis (San Antonio)
Why is no one talking bad about LA? When the Lakers blew out the Spurs everybody said they were back and that SA wouldn't beat the length. Now that LA lost to Miami who was on a five-game losing streak no one wants to tear them down. Why is LA better than SA?
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
They were playing a desperate Miami team on its home floor. They should've been 90-all if Artest makes the putback or goaltending is called. Gasol didn't show up. Heat got a couple of fastbreaks at the perfectly wrong time. I don't take from that win that Miami has solved their problems or that the Lakers are any better or worse than I've thought they were all season long. How much Kobe has left to make game-winning shots against the absolute best and the Lakers' collective energy is going to determine whether they win another ring. No way to gauge where exactly those things are now. But there are reasons, certainly, to have questions. I just don't see the Spurs having the answers, regardless of their record. Not against the Lakers, anyway.
Ric Bucher (2:18 PM)
I'd love to keep going, but I've got a few other things to do today. Like check on my family and see if a gigantic Japanese wave blew them off the beachside cliffs back home. Thanks all of you for coming. If there are things you'd like to see improved with these chats, tweet me @RicBucher and management will take it under consideration. Also, look for me on NBA Tonight tonight and tomorrow night. Thanks again for coming by...