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)
Hey there. Great to see so many midwesterners - or fans of midwest teams - here since that's where I spent last week freezing my $%#* off. Let's get started...
Ric, Why wouldn't an east team like Philly try to trade for Carmelo? They need a star, and even if he doesn't resign, they would have cap space, right?
Ric Bucher (1:03 PM)
At one point Denver was ready to consider Iguodala for Melo. They're not at that place anymore. But for Philly it's a lousy deal if he's not re-signing. They'd have cap space and little else. As a fan do you reeeeeally want that?
Do you see similarities between Skiles and Thibs coaching styles? As a bulls fan, after watching the loss to the Nets I am concerned that Thibs is stubborn and too intense that he loses track of his substitution patterns. Like Skiles, I think the intensity works for some time before the players give up on him. Thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:06 PM)
I'd say Thibs and Doug Collins in his early years is a better comparison. Thibs is intense all the time and those types burn out, either themselves or their teams, in three years. But I'm stunned by all the Thibs criticism coming out of Chicago. They are at the top of the division. They're playing a style that will translate well to the postseason. Your dislike is that he's too demanding? Works too hard? Expects too much? His team respects him for that and you don't? Hmmm.
Jerry (Jamestown, ND)
Ric, What are your thoughts on Rambis, I am baffled at times by his moves. Seems over matched most nights.
Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
I get the sense that Rambis in no way trusts his players and that rubs the smart, capable ones the wrong way. I've seen several times at the end of games, the TWolves begin to take off down court and eyes roll when Rambis calls a timeout. He obviously knows the game and knows the league, but I question what kind of motivator he is. Strikes me at times as having Phil's condescending 'tude without the resume to back it up.
How real are the Heat as far as the playoffs go? I am sold on them as a regular season team but I am not sure they are constructed to be great come playoffs. They are still lacking an inside presence and defensively they will have to consistently stop the East's elite teams(Boston, Orlando, Chicago) your thoughts...
Ric Bucher (1:13 PM)
I'm with you. A friend who has a couple of championship rings said to me the other day that the Heat are setting themselves up for failure, playing a style that will rack up regular-season wins but doesn't really prepare them for the postseason. I know that's a hard thing for Miami fans to hear (and some to grasp) and I don't have the time here to go into all the particulars as to why that's true. Maybe, if a few other teams fall apart due to injury, the Heat will be the first to win a championship playing a style no one has won a championship with before. But I wouldn't bet on it.
Hey Ric I couldn't believe it the other day when you actually acknowledged Kobe is getting old..........you have had your head shoved so far up his ass over the years I'm surprised you could actually have an intellectual observation...........Kobe's the worst teamate in the NBA..........
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
I've always pointed out Kobe's shortcomings. I've just felt he gets far more criticism than he deserves. I have a soft spot for guys who are totally dedicated to their jobs and being great. Guys who do it, not talk about it. If their personalities leave something to be desired at times, well, it's not a beauty contest for me. Luke Walton said to me once, "There are times when I don't like Kobe. But with the game on the line, down by 1 with three seconds left, I lllllovvvvve Kobe." As for teammate, he wins rings. If I'm playing, that's what I want more than anything. He gets me what I want. That, to me, is as good a teammate as I could have. Now that other part, is that what you do for people you like? Doesn't seem too pleasant for them or you. But to each his own.
With how well the Celts are playing without Kendrick Perkins, Delonte West, newcomer/semi-injured Jermaine O'neal, and KG, what happens when they all come back?
Ric Bucher (1:19 PM)
I wouldn't worry about that. Doc's touch and the leadership on that team is solid. All those guys you listed, except for Perk, are happy to be on a team that matters at this stage. The Celtics are going to be scary once they have everybody back.
The Kings already have the lowest payroll in the NBA. Why would Petrie be so interested in dumping more salary (Garcia rumors) as opposed to making trades that improve the roster?
Ric Bucher (1:21 PM)
Because Las Vegas, from what I hear, is sinking into the desert and the Maloofs' casino is going with it. In short: they're losing a ton of money, they're not going anywhere in a hurry, so why not? Those escorts around the pool don't grow on trees, you know.
what are your thoughts man
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
My thoughts: why would Chicago need two parentheses? Derrick Rose is just too good to contain with one set? (*Had* to throw that in there.)
Your boy, Marc Stein, is reporting Danny Granger is no longer untouchable.....Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Charlotte's future 1st for Granger seems like a GREAT deal for BOTH teams....no?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
Goes along with the Thibs criticism: why are Bulls' fans so eager to blow up their team to add a 2 right now? Oh, wait, Ryan is from LA...
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
We're going rapid fire for the next 12 minutes. Get out the plastic cups...
Is Blake Giffin an all star or is he just a highlight reel?
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
Kid is more than highlights. But league is real reluctant to have rookies in Sunday game because it lowers attention on rookie-soph game.
which coach, do you think, will be the first to "spend more time with the family"?
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
Paul Westphal, I'm told, would already be gone if, A) they had someone on the bench who could take over and B) they hadn't guaranteed his salary for next year already. I still wonder if Collins, physically, makes it to the end of the season.
Andy (Cedar Falls)
Whats the latest on the Bulls going after Casspi of the Kings? I watched the Kings play last night, and I feel he would be a good fit in Chicago
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
Just about everybody looked good for the Kings last night. I don't see how Casspi really helps the Bulls.
Chris (Studio City, CA)
Afternoon, Ric! What's the over-under on when Steve Nash will be liberated from the Suns? Anything to offer on possible landing spots?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
I don't see it happening this year. All I know is he has no plans to re-sign there. From what I'm told.
WHo do you think will play for the NBA finals this year
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who think will play in the NBA Finals in June of 2011?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
Everybody's playing for the Finals. My Finals' picks remain the same: Lakers vs. Celtics. Had Lakers winning it all, but Boston is making me reconsider.
will the bucks reach the playoffs? if so are they a contender?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
No, they're not a contender. Yes, I still have them making the playoffs.
any hope for the bucks? cant blame injuries, they were bad before them, so any hope other than just "get healthy"?
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
You can blame injuries. Bogut is not the same player he was last year, which was arguably the best center in basketball. I feel they added a couple of guys who don't fit with the blue-collar chemistry that worked so well last year. Can't undo that at this point.
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
Four minutes left in rapid fire...
Ridnour plus 1st rounder for A. Randolph, who says no?
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
That's a huge gamble for TWolves. Where is this pick coming from that NY is giving? Has to be a lottery pick, which they're not likely to have.
DO THE CLIPS TRADE KAMAN?
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
No. As much as I hear Sterling would like to see him moved, no.
From The 3s (Boston, MA)
Stern recently seemed to nonchalantly say he wouldn't mind to see two teams ousted from the NBA, yet remained covered as he said there is enough talent to support the number of teams. Do you feel the NBA can actually successfully yield a 30 team league?
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
Without question. They just have to be in the right markets run by the right people. But the new CBA will make it possible to make a profit in Missoula, Montana. No offense to Missoulans.
Does Lamar get an All-Star nod?
Ric Bucher (1:37 PM)
He deserves one. He has been the most energetic Laker, night in and night out, all season long.
Kris (Los Altos, CA)
What else does D-Will have to do to get the Jazz to contender level?
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
I'm not putting it on Deron. He's doing all he can -- carries the offensive load and defending the biggest perimeter threat at crunchtime.
Will kevin Love get some love and be on the all star team
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
He should make it, too.
DO THE CLIPS TRADE BARON DAVIS?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
They would if they could -- no takers.End of rapid fire. Let me dig into a couple that require more than two sentences now.
Does Gasol have an injury he's not talking about? No one can be THAT tired.
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
Yes, you can be THAT tired. The Lakers' core has gone to three straight Finals. As my friend with the rings says, "The body is not made to play that much basketball in that amount of time." Everyone acknowledges the NBA season is looooonng. Those guys have played four seasons in the span of three - and that extra season is playoff level, which are twice as tiring. Jordan retired twice because he couldn't muster the energy after three. That's why I felt at the start of the season the Lakers needed to deal a core piece to get some new blood, even with it being the big risk that it obviously is. We'll see if they can do what no one has in modern times, which is go to four straight Finals.
Ric Bucher (1:44 PM)
Add to that we're talking about games in November and December. These guys, for three years, know the games that really matter are in May and June and have had a cavalier attitude that hasn't cost them. So now you're expecting them to be fired up? You're shocked they're not blowing people away? This is not a complicated subject.
Please elaborate on the Heat comment??? What style?
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
They run a very simple offense and their success is largely predicated on pressing up, scoring in bunches in transition and essentially overwhelming teams with their speed and athleticism. Look at the teams in the last decade that have won titles. Were they the most athletic? Not by a long stretch. OKC is far more athletic than the Lakers. Boston? Not that athletic. San Antonio? Not in their championship years. How about that Heat team that won the title last time? Nope. I love watching the Heat play, same way I enjoyed watching the Suns. And they'll be a tough out because that organization has a lot of pride and pressure. But from an analytical point of view, they're going to have to defy history to win it this year.
Jimmy Johansen (Knickland, USA)
With a lockout appearing to be eminent and a new CBA likely to have shorter terms and less guaranteed money, do you think it will be easier to create "super teams"? And do you think these teams are more beneficial to the players or to the owners?
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
It's a great question, even if you meant "imminent" and not "eminent." (Sorry, didn't have time to edit before I posted.) I have to think the small-market teams will fight tooth and nail against parameters that foster super teams, because those super teams will be in the super markets. But if there's a hard cap and revenue sharing that assures everybody buckets of money, it's hard to imagine that the best cities/climates won't have an advantage.
Ric,The orlando magic trade has proved that they are a contender in the east once again this year, do you see them getting past boston and miami?
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
They are much better than they were. Can't see them beating Boston. Can't wait to see them play Miami. Will be harder than ever for Chicago to get past them.
Alot of people are saying that Wade is looking like the MVP of the heat right now, and they're making a good case... however, hasn't it ocurred to anyone that maybe Lebron is making all his teammates better including Wade?. If that's the case then he should be MVP.
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
This is what I saw: Haslem went down and the team needed a rebounding boost in the worst way to bolster its confidence. Wade suddenly became a rebounding fool. For the first month, Wade was deferring, trying to get everyone involved. Then he scrapped that and said I'm going back to taking over when the game is tight. LeBron does his damage in the third quarter, that's been documented. He often does so much damage the Heat have a nice lead in the fourth quarter and games aren't close. But if you're asking me who picked this team up when it was faltering, who did the heavy lifting, I'm going with Wade. The Heat made changes to accommodate LeBron and he has made the most of them. Wade essentially looked at the situation and said, "What do I have to do to accommodate my team?" That's my kind of MVP.
The Heat may not win it all this year, but who can stop them next year? All the other teams are dinosaurs, Lakers no way can go to the Finals this year and next, Celtics are done after this year, Mavericks and Spurs same, so who does that leave? Magic? Bulls? OKC?
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
Bulls, OKC and Heat are the teams I see as being the frontrunners on the other side of the lockout.
I understand your point about the Heat and how they are similar to the suns, but there is a huge difference between those two teams, the Heat play much better defense. If you watch those Boston games, the hear play atrociously on offense and yet only lose by a little, Agree of Disagree?
Ric Bucher (2:00 PM)
Don't want to turn this into a Heat forum, but yes, they play better D than the Suns. The Suns, in their heyday, also had a more potent and versatile offense than the Heat have now.
ben (rhode island)
How aggressive are the rockets trying to ship Yao? Are there any takers out there?
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
They've canvassed the league. But they want a young star and cap relief. No one's giving that up for Yao, seeing as it's highly unlikely he ever plays again.
Shaq/Kobe Lakers not athletic? The Jordan Bulls not athletic? The Kobe/Gasol Lakers with Odom, Ariza, Shannon Brown, not athletic? Are you on medication?
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
You really have to read more closely. I said "most athletic." Somebody keep Shane away from the keg.
2nd best home attendance in the NBA is the Cavs, surprising?
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
No. Built on sales over the summer when they still thought Miami's No. 6 was still theirs.
Ric Bucher (2:05 PM)
Looking for a good one to finish up on...
Can I answer Shane's question? The Shaq Kobe teams had Kobe who was athletic, the rest of the guys that actually played in the playoffs were not. See Horry, Shaw, fox, Harper etc....
Ric Bucher (2:08 PM)
I should've let Chris do my light work. All right, I'll be back next week. Had lots of trade questions that I couldn't answer. Bring them back next week and I'll be sure to get them then. Thanks and have a great weekend. Whose dog is this?