I love having NBA League Pass, which allows me to escape the poor defense — and even worse picture quality — of the local Warriors broadcasts. Unfortunately I don’t have the MLB Network, or I’d be able to watch the Giants/Indians Spring Training opener that just started about three minutes before I began writing this post (Giants update: double for Edgar Renteria, single for Pablo Sandoval to lead off the game…good times!).
So I’m left to listen to the game on KNBR, which is fine. I’d like to see the game on TV of course, but I’d much rather listen to Jon Miller than Joe Magrane or whoever’s calling the game for MLB (Giants update: Travis Ishikawa single, and the Giants have their first Spring Training run of the season…maybe the offense will be OK after all!).
KNBR’s been on fire during the 11 o’clock hour lately, as Gary Radnich’s mandated interviewsÃ‚Â have gone from tedious (Jim Plunkett) to oustanding (Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper and Jon Miller on consecutive days). Today’s was definitely in the latter category, thanks to Ric Bucher’s first appearance on KNBR in a decade (check it out here). The well-gelled ESPN talking head touched on a number of subjects, let’s go straight to the meaty ones (Yes!).
Stephon Marbury and the Celtics
As you all know, Starbury got his buyout from the Knicks just in time to not only join another team but also be eligible for their playoff roster, and everybody thinks that team will be the Celtics (Actually, the Boston Globe says Marbury will definitely be a Celtic). Bucher mentioned how the Celtics need bench help, especially with a decidedly not point guardish Eddie House backing up Rajon Rondo at point guard (By the way: just a tremendous article describing why Rondo’s game is actually better because he has no jump shot on Free Darko. Even a Rondo-hater like myself has to appreciate the uniqueness of his game and the importance of his role in Boston). Still, Bucher brought up that what the Celtics miss is the defense and 3-point shooting of James Posey, and Marbury has never been known for either of these things.
Bucher also opined that Danny Ainge is the same type of gambler as a GM that he was as a player, and this Starbury thing is just another in a career of several gambles since taking over in Boston (none of which worked until he got Kevin McHale to send over KG and take back Sebastian Telfair in the process, saving the Celtics twice). This is the Celtics’ last chance at a title with this nucleus according to Bucher, as the Celtics were one of several teams to take an $11M loan from the NBA to cover operating costs, they won’t re-sign Leon Powe during the off-season (hear that, Robert Rowell?) and will be looking to trade one of their “Big Three” before next season.
Could Boston’s run of amazing pro sports success be coming to an end? With the Patriots no longer a sure thing and the Red Sox pinning their hopes on several injury-prone free agents (John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Rocco Baldelli and Mark Kotsay), Bostonians may be back to their whiney, inferiority complex-having selves before we know it. As Fred Willard would say as the TV commentator in Best in Show, “Now that’s a croud pleaser!”
— To hear Bucher tell it, Don Nelson is the wrong coach for this team. Nellie’s worried about wringing every win possible out of this group in hopes of getting that all-time wins record (he’s 32 away from tying Lenny Wilkens), playing Stephen Jackson 40 minutes per game while he should be developing a team for the future.
–Anthony (but we call him Tony) Randolph is an absolute stud. Not like we didn’t know that, but several scouts have told Bucher that Randolph is a lock for several All-Star selections in his career and has a shot at becoming a top-10 player in the league. Bucher also shares our view that whatever Nellie thinks about Randolph’s practice habits, he’s never done anything less than play incredibly hard every time he’s on the floor.
–Rowell’s decision to sign Jackson to a two-year extension (when the only reason to do so was to prove to Chris Mullin that he was completely out of the loop) not only hamstrings the Warriors with another long-term contract during a period of frightening economic instability, but ruined the Warriors’ chances at trading Jackson to a contender like Cleveland or Boston this season. Bucher wasn’t exactly breaking new ground with that observation, but what the hell was Rowell thinking? The Jackson extension was much dumber than letting Baron Davis sabotage his own career with the Clippers.
–The three Warriors Bucher would build around: Randolph, Brandan Wright and Monta Ellis. And he named them in that order. Note Andris Biedrins wasn’t mentioned. Maybe Bucher forgot, but I doubt it. I’m beginning to wonder if Biedrins isn’t just Troy Murphy, only Biedrins’ pastime is tanning while Murphy’s was drinking in the Marina and Walnut Creek.
I’m still yet to be sold on Wright until I get the feeling he can actually play with some anger every now and then. Who else thinks Wright has spent his rehab time reading poetry, listening to Bilal and fantasizing about joining the Peace Corps?
(Giants update: Tim Lincecum gave up a homer to Mark DeRosa, and Ishikawa just answered with a solo shot…Indians lead 3-2)
I know, I know, this is a lot of Bucher talk. I’m aware he wears a criminal amount of gel and is a polished TV personality who was simply giving his opinion on all these subjects, but as far as opinions go I’d take Bucher’s over all the other NBA talking heads out there. Marc Stein knows what he’s talking about, but he’s very Dallas-centric and has a mancrush on Steve Nash that puts Bill Simmons’ love for Kevin Durant (and mine for Randolph) to shame. Stephen A. Smith is completely full of crap, and Chris Broussard usually just recites rumors I can find myself on HoopsHype.com. Bucher started out in the Bay Area and obviously still has a warm spot in his heart for Golden State, whose fans he called the most passionate and intelligent in the league.
It doesn’t hurt that the opinions he put forth on Radnich’s show today were ones I completely agree with. Starbury hasn’t played an NBA game in a year and hasn’t been good for a much longer period, and the Warriors are completely botching the Randolph Era.
(Speaking of NBA stuff I meant to get to this yesterday but I forgot: The Boston Celtics were the winners in last week’s poll question, as 20 of you picked the Celts as the favorite to win the NBA Title in June. The Lakers were a close second with 18 votes, and “The field” came up last with just 5 votes. Be sure to vote on this week’s poll question on the righthand portion of your screen: Does Baron + Warriors = Playoffs?)