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 (1:05 PM)
Had to do a quick SC hit on Rivers re-upping with Cs, hence the slight delay in getting started. Also, need to give a shout-out to UK Keith, Chris from Fresno and NJ's MB4th -- checked here late last night and they'd already posted questions. That's getting it done, gentlemen!OK, let's spin the wheel and get this game of Twister started...
My sources tell me that Brian Shaw and Chuck Person are serious about the Warrior coaching spot. Also, can the Ellis / Curry duo survive? FYI: Dallas v Chicago - Finals!
Ric Bucher (1:06 PM)
Your sources are half right. Chuck and Brian are serious about getting the job and will be interviewed. But all signs point to Mike Brown being the Warriors next head coach.
Larry Brown (Next Town)
Bucher, I see everyone and their dog is getting an interview in Houston and Golden State. I feel left out I did not get a shot. Are people really tired of me?
Ric Bucher (1:07 PM)
Look around at the guys getting interviewed and the guys that are out of the league: the my-way-or-highway coaches have fallen by the wayside. The guys with slightly less imposing egos and styles are in vogue.
Are you surprised LA has shown 0 interest in Shaw? The man knows the offense and knows these players. They going to end up regretting missing out on him?
Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
It's not zero interest. But let's be real: the Lakers want to get back to prominence quickly and they have a worn-out core. This is not going to be easy and as much as I like BShaw and want to see him get a job, this is not the right job for a rookie coach, no matter how familiar he might be with the organization.
Hey Ric,How good would this Bulls team be if Ben Gordon hadn't ducked out for more money? Could they still have signed Boozer with Gordon on the books? I feel like leaving for Detroit was a terrible basketball decision.
Ric Bucher (1:12 PM)
It was an excellent financial decision for Gordon and I'd say it was a wise one by the Bulls not to load up to keep Gordon. I'd liked to have seen Joe Johnson over anybody else last summer go to the Bulls, but that didn't happen. Boozer has yet to earn his salary but there's still hope. By the way, not that I know what's going to happen yet, but imagine Jamal Crawford or Jason Richardson or Stephen Jackson at 2 for the Bulls next season -- that's the kind of player they'll be able to add now because they didn't spend all their money last summer.
All Blue (All In)
Ric what type of big man upgrade do you see the Magic targeting in FA to pair with Dwight Howard or should they trade one of their power forwards since the FA list is not very deep?
Ric Bucher (1:14 PM)
They need to get a first-rate PG and perimeter scorers if they want to keep Howard. In any case, they can't do anything on the FA market -- they're capped out for years to come. They have to deal for improvement and that's where it gets very tough for the Magic in making a transformation quick enough to keep Dwight.
Jason Miami Florida [via mobile]
Lebron was looking back on the steal against pierce because a whistle was blown and he thought it was the ref, when it really came from the stands. I was there. Check his reaction in the replay, it's obvious.
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
Riiiight. So the whistle caused him to lose the ball? Or he thought the ref blew the whistle because he lost the ball and surely that couldn't happen? And there weren't whistle sounds coming from the stands all game long? Kudos to LeBron for closing strong, but pulling out the ProActive to blot every blemish is a little much.
Ric Bucher (1:18 PM)
And I don't know why I took the time to answer that. Apologies to the room. Sometimes a question or comment comes up and I lose it a little.
Shawn F. [via mobile]
Why is everybody crowing the Heat for beating a horrible and scared 6ers team and an old broke down Boston team without Perkins or O' Neal? They came in the playoffs bad and that's how they left. Indi, Orlando, Atlanta, would have beat them. Boston beat the New York Knicks because they were a broken down team with no defense.
I know we are the most watched team, but some of the criticism is just ridiculous. Every team/player has to beat a great team to advance. A team who destroyed them in previous yrs. Duke with the Fab 5, Detroit with the Bulls. Most predicted the Celtics would beat us in the playoffs, and we won, shouldnt we be excited. Just imagine if we lost and walked off like all the Celtics except Allen and West.
Jon Dallas, Tx [via mobile]
How come last year when Lebron walked off the court without shaking hands it was a huge story and people attacked his character and sportsmanship? However out of the big four from Boston the only one to shake hands was Ray Allen. I'm shocked that this isn't being discussed at all.
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
Everything LeBron does is scrutinized to the Nth degree. I don't think he was killed for walking off, I just think it was discussed. I certainly didn't have a problem with him not shaking hands then or ever. As for the questions about how the Heat celebrated: I found Jared Dudley's take very insightful into how players in the league see the Heat. He said LeBron and Wade always know where the cameras are, so when they do something, the suggestion is it's not necessarily genuine but playing it up for the audience.I have no problem with how excited they were, in that I know it was a huge monkey off their backs to beat Boston. But it does raise a question about whether they feel they cleared their biggest hurdle and whether that's true. We'll find out.Finally, on LeBron: I thought his post-game interview was terrific talking about the Cs. The kneeling on the court and bowing his head: felt as if that was some of what Jared was talking about.
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
It's that time, my friends: Rapid fire for 20 breathtaking minutes. Here we go...
Henderson NV [via mobile]
Is Carlos Boozer better than Miami's Chris Bosh?
Ric Bucher (1:25 PM)
We're about to find out. He has to be for the Bulls to win.
Do you think Miami will go small more in this series and put Lebron at 4? I think that helps the Bulls because they can put Korver in to guard James Jones will eliminating a big to bother Rose
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
I don't know but playing LeBron at the 4 has been, without a doubt, the Heat's most effective lineup. Same goes for KD at 4 for OKC, which would make for interesting chess if those two teams meet in the Finals.
Ric, who's driving the Heat bandwagon and who's in shotgun between Cowherd and LeBatard?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
Cowherd is sitting on the back bumper and capable of hopping off at any time. A replica of LeBatard's mug is the hood ornament and the driver's seat has a memory button to automatically adjust to his tush. Not even close.
Dileep A K (India)
Why was Wade not selected in all-NBA first team though he had a better season than Bryant? Is he the most underrated Superstar in the NBA?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
Heat weren't good enough to have two first teamers in most people's minds would be my guess. You could make a strong case that he is, re: your second question.
Hey Buchs,Is Nene a possibility for Boston financially? I feel like if they got an athletic big who plays D and can finish, that might be the piece they need to continue to contend in the future.
Ric Bucher (1:31 PM)
I like the idea of Nene but you'd have to S&T for him. Cs don't have room to sign him as a FA.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
The NBA has a soft cap while the NFL has a hard cap. In my mind, that at least theoretically makes it financially feasible to keep NBA stars save for what happened last year. Do you think the soft cap v. the hard cap has any impact on actually retaining talent?
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
Moot question because the NBA is about to go to a hard cap, in part because they like the NFL's success more than MLB's.
Josh (Knoxville, TN)
What moves do you think San Antonio could/should make this offseason to get better? Can they get anyone to take Richard Jefferson off their hands? Thanks.
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
I don't see them moving Jefferson. I do see them dealing Tony Parker. If they can make a reasonable deal.
Are you the only basketball reporter (outside Chicago) who honestly thinks Rose is a better player than Lebron and Wade?
Ric Bucher (1:35 PM)
I don't know, nor care. I do know my opinion is shared by more than a few people who play, coach and make personnel decisions in the NBA. I'm good with that.
Nathan Smith (Winter Haven, FL)
Why is no one talking about Dallas?! They just swept the 2-time champs.
Ric Bucher (1:36 PM)
Waiting to see how much that was Dallas and how much was the implosion of the two-time champs. It's a fair question.
lm (north of 9)
Hey Ric, though in its infancy, would a proposed lower rookie salary scale affect this year's class? If not, would this encourage players to reconsider delaying their eligibility (Barnes, Sullinger etc.)?
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Not at all. When you have no money and are tired of school, any guaranteed money and not being in school is attractive. Besides, it's not as if there's going to be more money available under a new deal later.
JimmyZ (PHX, AZ)
Wade on Rose and Bibby on Bogans is a no brainer right?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
Yes and no. Wade couldn't stay in front of Rose consistently and I don't know that you want to wear him out. No individual matchups, defensively, are going to determine this series -- team efforts will.
Fred (St. Paul, MN)
Does it make any sense for the wolves not to pick Kyrie Irving #1? Rubio may never play for the wolves. It makes no sense to me. What are your thoughts?
Ric Bucher (1:40 PM)
Let's see who has the No. 1 pick before we start debating that. But if Irving is the best talent and Minn has the pick, you take Irving and then decide which one you want to move.
jbreeze cali [via mobile]
Ok Bucher, your jerry buss...what's going to happen this off season?
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
I'd have a better chance of telling you if I were Jim Buss, since that's who is running the show. Which has me a little nervous.
Ric Bucher (1:42 PM)
All right, I'm going to try to keep the pace rolling but we'll back off rapid fire for the next 10...
Rashad (Downtown Miami)
Pick against us...you know you want to :), you detest what we've put together down here. But as the good Book says, what God has put together, let no man cast asunder...this is our destiny
King James Miami [via mobile]
Hey Ric! Now that Kobe and the Lakers got destroyed, can u start giving praise to the Real best team in the NBA the Heat? You always want to scrutinize us but we are still on top.
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
And this, quite honestly, is what made the Heat so annoying out of the gate because the team exuded the same 'tude. I've given the Heat plenty of credit since the end of the regular season and it's hard to pick against them at this point. They've gained a certain humility through their trials. But let's ease up on the Biblical references and the crowing about being the best team in the league just yet. Not saying you can't get there, just saying you shouldn't be acting as if you already did.
James (Stamford, CT)
Has there ever been a great player that acts like he's never hit a big shot/won a big game more than lebron. The guy acted like he just won the title when he beat the C's. Every big jumper he hits he acts like he just won the title. Him and Bosh are the same way. Wade's the only guy who acts like he's done it before, because you know, he actually has.
Ric Bucher (1:48 PM)
LeBron has had the world on his shoulders, so I don't begrudge him any celebration. Same with Bosh. What I find amusing with LeBron is when he says he's not aware of anything being said about him, particularly at the end of games. The appropriate answer would be: "People are talking about my inability to close at the end of games? Had no idea." Besides, even the most diehard LBJ supporters would concede he is *clearly* conscious of a), what everyone says about him and b) the suggestion that he hasn't been clutch for a good part of his career. Didn't he apologize to his teammates for not being just that at one point?
So Doc Rivers extends 5 years on contract...what happened to I want to spend time with my kids and watch them play sports? Why the big flip flop? Seemed as if his family was coming first and now all of the sudden five more years in the NBA
Ric Bucher (1:49 PM)
One, a ridiculous amount of money. Two, his family saying, "Dad, it's cool. We're good with you pursuing your passion."
Mike (Boston, MA)
Does Sam Presti call Danny Ainge this offseason and beg to trade Westbrook for Rondo? It just seems Rondo would fit so much better there being surrounded by up and coming shooters (Durant, Cook, Harden, Ibaka, etc) and can actually make a play call. Westbrook just seems to set up iso's for himself or Durant. And when Ainge says no, does Presti gloat saying I already screwed you once this year anyway?
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
Last I checked, Russ was about to lead the Thunder to the conference finals and Rondo was going to be at home watching. Not sure why people like to beat up Westbrook, but he's been consistently second-guessed from the minute OKC made him the 4th pick. He's a great kid and arguably the next best athlete at PG after Rose. He's figuring it out. But 1/3 of the problems that OKC has in getting the ball to KD rest with KD, who can't separate from strong agile defenders. Overall, I'd say Rondo has more holes to fill in his game than Westbrook -- and I like Rondo, too.
Aaron (New York)
Since no analyst can watch every game by every team, do national analysts just watch parts of games to garner their opinions, or watch highlights, or alternate complete games by teams (Knicks one week, Nuggets the next) to get a full view of the league?
Ric Bucher (1:56 PM)
Can't speak for everyone, but I watch as many games as I can on league pass, try to see every team in the league at least a couple of times live and then rely on scouts, people in those particular teams, opposing players and coaches and various other people around the league who see a particular team more than I have. The second key is developing sources who have a proven track record of knowing what they're talking about and not having hidden agendas or flawed assessments. It's not just listening, it's knowing who to listen to.
Ken B. (Mount Pleasant)
Ric, as a Heat fan since the days of Bimbo Coles, Zo, and Kevin Willis i want to point out that not all of us are bandwagon fans, and the die hards don't like being lumped in by you and your ESPN brethren. On that note the Heat band wagoneers seem to be the worst of all band wagoneers, so i get the disdane.
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
Duly noted. Never meant to suggest there aren't good, sane, rational basketball fans in Miami. I just don't hear from them very often.
I've been trying to have this question answered since Tuesday after game 4 of THunder/Grizzlies series and havent heard it mentioned once. WHy didnt the THunder foul Conley up 3 with 5 seconds to go. Seemed like a no brainer to me and we all could have went to bed an hour earlier. THoughts? Thanks for your time. You do great work
Ric Bucher (2:00 PM)
Same thought crossed my mind, watching the replays. Here's the problem: Conley was shooting 26 percent from 3pt range, 81 percent from the FT line. He was 0 for 5 from 3 in that game. It sounds all well and good to say you're going to foul, but when a guy is that far from the basket and can't shoot 3s, he's going to see you coming to foul him and could heave an attempt to end up going to the line. I can see why OKC didn't.
With how they ended last night, the Bulls have to feel confident heading to Chicago for Miami. Can we get a prediction and why?
Give the heat a little credit, celtics in 5...How do you think the bulls-heat series will go?
raymond buffalo ny [via mobile]
What do you think are the bulls chances of beating the heat? Especially if boozer has turned the corner?
OK, you get a reset. Now who do you think takes it all?
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
If I had to make a prediction, I'd say Miami wins the series. Great D vs. Great D and two superstars vs. one. At the same time, I believe Thibodeau's defensive schemes and DRose's ascendance give them a chance.
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
I'd also say the champion at this point is coming out of the east, whoever it is.
Ric Bucher (2:04 PM)
I was going to wrap on that but I forgot my fellas who filed the early questions. Let's go rapid fire til 10 after and call it a day...
Dwight going to the Lakers: Is Kobe mellow enough now to accept Dwight Howard into the Lakers? Marc Stein brought up the interesting point that Dwight likes to clown around (just like Shaq) and that it may conflict with Kobe's attitude to work. I appreciate that Dwight and Shaq are very different but is Kobe willing to accept some antics from Dwight if it gets him a ring?
Ric Bucher (2:06 PM)
Kobe has mellowed and Dwight could use someone who helps him cut out some of the silliness. Besides, DH wants to do all he can to separate himself from the Shaq comparisons. This would be a great way to start.
Chris (Fresno, Ca)
Any chance the Spurs make a trade to get some new talent on this team? They looked too slow and were not able to paly a minute of Defense.
Ric Bucher (2:07 PM)
You can rest assured the Spurs will not stand pat. As I said earlier, my bet is that Parker is the one who gets moved.
Factoring in picks, taking on Arenas etc. Who can make a better deal for Orlando? Bynum has an injury history, attitude problem, and is overpaid. Lopez has less experience, is too mild-mannered, but also has never missed a game or played w/ any talent.
Ric Bucher (2:09 PM)
Lopez makes sense if Orlando wants to get some talent and save some money. NJ has cap space to trade a smaller salary for a bigger one. Someone else asked a simliar question: Bynum for Howard can't be done straight up because both teams are way over the cap.
Ryan (Aurora, CO)
The other night the Lakers game was on at the same time as 'Khloe and Lamar'. I do not have DVR and had to make a tough call. What would you have done Ric?
Ric Bucher (2:10 PM)
Not sure what game you were talking about, but if it was Game 4, I would've gone Khloe and Lamar. No suspense left in the other reality show.
You gotta answer this question, it's driving me nuts. Could this Lakers' lineup work (money wise): Kobe, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard (PF), and Odom for the 2012-2013 season?
Ric Bucher (2:12 PM)
It could, but one worthwhile note: among the Lakers' many breakdowns defensively, one was that LO was playing 3 in their system, defensively, for the first time in like three years. He kept rotating and playing as if he was the 4. Really screwed things up.
C'mon Ric...make a comment about tonight's game...IT IS THE ONLY SERIES GOING RIGHT NOW. So I think it deserves a little attention.
Ric Bucher (2:14 PM)
That's a very good point. I love what the Grizzlies have accomplished and I love what it's done for the city, and I believe they've only lost once at home in these playoffs, but...I have the Thunder getting it done tonight. Not sure Zach and Marc have recovered from the triple OT beatdown -- or Mayo from being put in to pick up a sixth foul in OT instead of someone else.
Ric Bucher (2:15 PM)
That's all I've got for this week. I'm sure we'll have a full house next week with the conference finals in full swing. Thanks for joining me as always...