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)
Good afternoon/late morning, depending where you are. Let's get rolling.
awhh man u fakin the funk ric bucher. how u goin to say 12 then be like 1?
Ric Bucher (1:03 PM)
Not sure what was advertised, but it's been 1 and, while we talked about moving to noon, I believe the chat is going to stay at 1/10 PT.
Many NBA analysts predicted the Cavaliers to win 12 games, and the Heat to win almost 70 games. So, with the Cavs at 5-5 and the Heat 7-4, how much do you think Lebron's effect on a team has been overhyped?
Ric Bucher (1:05 PM)
I don't know who these analysts are that you speak of, but I've always felt LeBron's supporting cast was vastly underrated, much like the group around AI when he made his run to the Finals. All that said, let's see where we're at after 25-30 games. Sample size is too small to draw any conclusions just yet.
Jonathan siguenza Dallas tx [via mobile]
Do you think the Miami heat will be better by the end of the regular season and make it to the finals
Ric Bucher (1:07 PM)
Yes to the first part, no to the second. Their strength is at the wing positions. That happens to be the strength of the league in general. The teams that are dominating, or surprising, all have a very good big. And no offense to Bosh, but he's not a classic. Doesn't play a big man game. I'm talking about a guy who has the game and girth to anchor the post.
Rajon Rondo (TD Banknorth, Boston)
My game has taken years off the big 3's. How much longer can my play extend Boston's championship window (that was suppose to only be 3 years max)?
Ric Bucher (1:11 PM)
I believe you mean you've added years -- although as a natural-born contrarian I'm betting there are days Ray, in particular, feels as if you've turned a few hairs of his gray. If he had any, of course. The problem that Boston and every other older, highly paid team will face after the lockout is, A, what condition will they be in after a six-month, year-long layoff and, B, can their team afford to keep them. Boston looks as if it specifically designed its roster to compete now, not later.
Wladimir (Santiago, Chile)
Hey Ric, any chance the mavs trade Butler?? I think the mavs are better suited with marion starting at the 3.
Ric Bucher (1:11 PM)
Haven't watched Butler and I haven't heard anything specific, but with his expiring contract, he'd be a great trading chip with the Sixers for Iguodala.
Eric (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
What do you think of the New Orleans Hornets? Do you consider them to be a contender or a pretender this year?
Ric Bucher (1:13 PM)
Contender for a playoff spot? Sure. Title? No. My biggest question with them in keeping this up is health. CP3 and Emeka haven't both been able to get through a season for a while and they are both killing it right now. I believe they've taken advantage of teams sleeping on them a little bit, the way teams did on OKC last year.
Hi Ric! Two surgeries for David Lee... Should we be worried about his injury? Thanks!
Ric Bucher (1:14 PM)
You should be worried about staph infections, particularly something called MRSA. I wrote about it in our preview issue. Scary, scary stuff. No matter who you are or where you live, you're susceptible. Prevention is a major key.
Venka (Pittsburgh, PA)
Hey Ric..way the suns are I don't even see them in the playoffs. Robert Sarver and the phx front office needs to realize that a little defense is required to even make some noise in the playoffs. I feel the only way phx can rebuild is to make some trades and I feel they can get some young guys (like taj gibson or even Evan turner) for J Rich's expiring contract.
Ric Bucher (1:16 PM)
Suns' D is actually pretty decent. It's their rebounding that is killing them. Teams are getting a dozen or so extra possessions a game, which is just too much to deal with on a nightly basis.
Steve Nash (Pheonix...for now)
At what point do I get traded? They have this young kid behind me that is pretty good plus Turk is better with the ball in his hands anyways plus I am the only asset that can be traded.
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
You're in a classic Catch-22. As the games against Orlando and Miami showed, Goran is a great back-up but moving into the starting lineup for a PG, especially when it may be the most talented position in the league, well, it's not his time. You make the Suns look more competitive than they are and you're a tremendous spokesman. Suns will never get equal value back. They just have to realize, quietly, you're a little bit like Melo -- that the chances of you re-signing in Phoenix a year from now are extremely remote. But that'll be our little secret for now, OK?
There are a good bunch of trades almost every year. Who starts the trading season this year? A team like the Kings, Sixers, Nuggets, etc?
Ric Bucher (1:19 PM)
I'd be shocked if Miami doesn't start the trading season come Dec. 15. Not sure what they can get or if it will make a difference, but they have to look at improving at the 1 or 5.
Christian (Bristol, CT)
Hey ric, what do you think is the main difference between the Joe Johnson of this year and Joe Johnson of last year in the playoffs?
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
One, it's not the playoffs, where teams can game-plan to take away your strengths. Two, he's not playing for a contract. Three, Larry Drew. I don't know the dynamics exactly, but there was a disconnect between how Mike Woodson treated Joe vs. the rest of the team. There was jealousy, from what I understand. And that created some problems.
Maxwell (New York)
Hi Ric -- Do you think it's unfair to base All-Star worthiness on the first half of the season, and not last season's playoffs? D. Rose's snub last year comes to mind.
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
I believe we have to stop acting as if the All-Star Game is anything more than an exhibition of popular players, rather than thinking of it as anointment of the league's best players. The selection process is too goofy for the latter. That's why I don't put much stock in a guy being an All-Star. All-Pro? Different story.
How many years until the Kings are serious contenders, with so much young talent it doesn't seem like far off.
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
Not sure you've been paying attention. That team is on the brink of running into the ditch. It's not all about talent. As a friend of mine with a couple of rings likes to say, "Character counts." So does discipline.
Dale Harapat (Las Vegas)
Why is Millsap off the All-Star ballot?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
Wasn't on the committee this year, but I can tell you the way the ballot is constructed makes it hard to simply pick who is worthy. There are prereqs to picking a certain number of guys from each team and a certain number from each position. I've been quietly pushing to have the ballot changed to reflect more flexibility -- simply have it PGs, wing players and post players as the categories. Maybe that's why they haven't asked me to sit on the committee for four or five years now.
3 years ago, Chris Paul was putting up the numbers Deron Williams is now and was 2nd in the NBA in MVP voting. This year Chris Paul is putting up the numbers Deron Williams was 3 years ago and yet is somehow talked about as the front-runner for the award this year and Deron is not. Please explain.
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
Ran into this in my recent debate about who the league's best PG is. The analytics wave that started in baseball is now in full swing in basketball, at least with fans. They are different sports. I'm not down on stats at all, but in hoops they have to be taken in proper context far more than in baseball. There are intangible elements that make a player great that never will show up in his stats, only the team's stats and strategy. The funny thing is, I get the sense CP benefits from an element that has nothing to do with stats -- he has a wonderful backstory, a charming personality and his game is far more flashy. And we like to root for little guys who fell the big giants. See: Iverson, Allen.
Hello Mr. Bucher, isn't it time that the Suns realize that Turk will NOT be an effective nor efficient PF and trade for a cheap upgrade, say J. Thompson or D. Arthur (from Memphis)??
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
have to have somebody willing to take that contract. I thought Hedo would fit in Phoenix because of how they and he like to play, but now I'm seeing he's a tough fit with Nash and Goran. Hedo is at his best as a Point Forward. Little opportunity for that in Phoenix right now.
Mike (Los Angeles)
Hey Ric, I loved your debate w/Broussard about Pau vs Dirk. How much better would Dirk be if he actually played with a number one option like Kobe? People don't realize how Pau playing with Kobe opens up Pau's game by a mile.
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
I agree that Kobe and the Lakers have done wonders for Pau, but I don't agree that Dirk would be better. Truth is, they're both No. 2s. Dirk simply has been required to be a No. 1 most of his career and the reason I put him over Pau is that he's done more in that role than Pau ever did as his team's best player. I'm told the real best of all time is Sabonis, hands down. I just didn't see him play enough to make an argument. My favorite international player? Manu, without question. And I'd like to argue he's the best of all time. Just impossible to make it because of his injuries and the presence of Duncan.
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Rapid fire round. Next 10 minutes I'm doing 1 or 2 sentence answers to get more of you in.
Hey Juror #3 - Have you and Broussard ever thought about adding a reader vote at the end of your debates? That would allow us to show what our stance is or at least which one of you is the Master Debater.
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Master Debater. Not touching that.
How long are you chatting?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
At least til the top of the hour. Maybe a bonus 15.
Are people making too much of Chris Bosh's postgame comments, or does it underline an attitude that ultimately does not lead to championships?
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
Both. The attitude has been there - and not just with him - so it shouldn't be news.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
I know you're saying the sample size is small but I think it's safe to say after 10 games the Cavs could use a SF (we know why that is). Do you think they'll use some of their trade exemption to bring one in?
Ric Bucher (1:41 PM)
No. I see the Cavs as one of those teams that will ride this season out and wait to do battle on the other side of the lockout.
Sam (Nor Cal)
The warrior roster was built for Don Nelson. How long will it take the new front office/ownership to rebuild the team to what they want?
Ric Bucher (1:41 PM)
They already started renovating it this past summer. That's why Maggette and Morrow aren't here and Udoh and Amundson are.
Do you think anyone out west can beat the lakers in the playoffs and if so who?
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
Just don't see it right now. They're rolling not playing particularly hard and without Bynum.
MC Welk (SLC)
Non-hoops related, but it was cool to hear you relate your kids' experiences during the SF Giants' run.
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
Thanks. Reminded me what makes sports truly great - and I'm not a baseball fan, per se.
I watch the Clippers play and see a monster of a player Blake Griffin, and he's getting 20 and 10 a night inspite of the fact that his dumb coach Vinny D does not run any plays for him....This guy should get 15-20 plays a night ran through him. Vinny is going to ruin his progress
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
Blake, and the talent around him, aren't where they can run the offense through him. Don't put it on VDN. They need big-man vets to show Blake how to be a pro, first and foremost.
Evil Chad (Grand Rapids, MI)
Would acquiring Greg Oden make sense for the Pistons? He could be the sort of 'reclaimation project' that Joe D likes to get involved it.
Ric Bucher (1:45 PM)
Not a bad call. Put me in the camp who doesn't think Oden's career is over but that he probably needs to get out of Portland and start over. No offense to Blazers. Sometimes a guy just needs a fresh start.
Should Dumars send Kuester packing? Seems like his players don't respect him at all
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
tough situation. Kuester is a good coach, but he has vets who either are done being on a team going nowhere or young guys who think they're better than they are.
Jake (Salt Lake)
Any more word on Deron Williams' state of mind that you seem to have tapped into but none of his closest friends or advisers knows about? Still frustrated? Still wanting to leave? Getting happier as the team gels?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
Don't misrepresent what I said. He is frustrated by how the Jazz have siphoned off pieces to save money. I'm sure he's OK right now because they're winning, but he's having to carry a huge load. He let it be known he's not been happy with all their moves and that he'll weigh his options when his contract is up. I commended him for not letting rumors continue to seep out and keeping the ferment alive.
hey Ric, which teams do you believe positioned themselves the best for life after the new CBA?
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
OKC. They have their main talent locked up, but they're not going to have to throw pieces overboard when the new rules are in place.
Tyrone Biggums (Dartmouth College)
How much of a impact can Andrew Bynum bring to the Lakers when he comes back?
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
He changes everything. Matchups, defense. Everything. If he and Kobe are healthy, it's over. But that's a big if on Bynum.
Greg Smith (Sacramento, CA)
Looking at the slate of games tonight, it screams, "The league has parity problems." Just how serious is the parity imbalance?
Ric Bucher (1:52 PM)
It's a function of the upcoming CBA. Teams have taken two different approaches -- go for it, price be damned, or sit this one out. I believe the CBA actually will create more parity than ever.
Derrick Rose (Chicago)
Do I need to complain more to get the calls other stars are getting?
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
No, you just need to keep doing what you're doing. It always takes the refs time to adjust to players who are both physically imposing and super quick at their position. You're doing things no one else is doing. Shaq, LeBron -- they all had the same issue. There also are more young refs than ever in the league, and they're getting used to the speed of the game overall. You'll be fine.
Anthony Randolph a bust or too early still?
Ric Bucher (1:54 PM)
It's tilting that way and I'm a big Randolph fan. Maybe not bust, but not likely to make good on his unbelievable talent.
Baron Davis for Andre Miller and Joel Przybilla; who says no: Clips, or Blazers?
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
Portland. I don't see anyone in the league taking Baron right now. And that's a big problem for the Clips.
Ok, Melo needs to go. Are the Nuggets worse off without him, absolutely. Are the Nuggets in an even worse place with him right now, it appears so. The man has played with no fire, no heart, no desire, and it shows. The team has lost its edge, and as fans it's hard to even get into the games. Melo needs to go, now.
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
I'd say he's played with desire and fire in fits and starts. As an aside, I have quibble with George Karl on this -- George, we like you and respect you and wish you a long life, truly. But don't insult our intelligence and tell us everything is fine when we know it's not. Positivity is great. Naivete or Make-believe? Not so much.
keith (dallas tx)
Do you think Chicago has a chance to compete with the powers in the East once Boozer gets back? I think Rose has really surprised some people this year with his play, he's leading the Eastern Conference in scoring.
Ric Bucher (1:59 PM)
Count me in as saying yes. As of right now, Rose makes my MVP ballot. Just not sure where yet.
What do you think is the best way to handle Anthony Randolph? Give him minutes and let him figure things out or bench him and make him earn minutes by showing good work ethic in practice?
Ric Bucher (2:00 PM)
Too much pressure on D'Antoni just to let Randolph figure it out. It's not a good place for Randolph to be right now and I don't think there's any easy solution.
Ric, love the stuff. I've heard that the Clippers are looking to move Baron Davis and maybe Chris Kaman. Who would say no to this trade? Bobcats get Baron and Kaman and Clippers get Diaw, Diop, Carrol and Najera. Thanks
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
You have to think what's best for Blake in all considerations. Who among that Cha group teaches him how to be a big and a pro? Kaman, right now, talks to him a lot and has helped him. But even Kaman never has been in a winning environment beyond one season. They need guys who know what it takes, day in and day out, to be good and practice what they preach. The Clips simply have no one like that for Blake and I believe his career is going to suffer for it.
Are the Jazz regretting not keeping Wes Matthews?
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
No, they're upset Portland made it impossible, fiscally, to keep him.
troy murphy for kenyon martin?
Ric Bucher (2:03 PM)
Works for me. Denver? Probably not.
Chaz B. (Cincinnati)
do you beleive allen iverson will ever get back into the league i believe he still has game left in him but will any team want him after a good year in turkey.
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
Taking this mainly because it's from my hometown: the NBA has seen the last of Allen Iverson.
Steven (San Francisco)
Hey Ric,Why does everyone in the media hate the Warriors? It seems no one respects their good play and they still think they play Nellie ball when in fact they've improved their defensive numbers dramatically compared to last season and have been running actual set plays. The core of Monta, Curry, and Lee is pretty good I think.
Ric Bucher (2:07 PM)
Trust me, no one hates them. It's early. They just got waxed on their road trip. They're pointed in the right direction. But Larry Riley and Keith Smart are unknown quantities. Give them time.
Ric Bucher (2:09 PM)
All right. I've got some knuckleheads sending me the same question 300 times, which is making it impossible to slog through and find meaningful questions. There will be bouncers at the door checking ID for the next session. Hate to do it, but there always have to be a few. Let's work off that turkey next week with a boisterous chat on Friday. Til then, my friends in all things hoop, be safe...