Sasha Vujacic: Exit Interview

blog_090616sashavujacicFollowing a breakout 2007-08 season that earned him a contract extension with the Lakers, Sasha Vujacic was disappointed with his injury-plagued 2008-09 that saw his contributions wane as the season wore on.

In the regular season, Vujacic averaged 5.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.96 steals in 16.2 minutes per game while shooting 38.7 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from three. In the playoffs, his minutes dropped to 10.9 minutes per game, and his production to 3.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists on 31.4 percent from three and 26.4 from the field.

In his exit interview, Vujacic talked about how he plans on improving things for next season among other things:

- First of all, he was wearing a green shirt. Apparently the Celtics demons have been exercised. He’ll also be cutting some hair, but not too much.

- On meeting with Phil Jackson: “It was an interesting meeting. I understand (his perspective).
From a personal point of view the season didn’t go how I wanted. I had a different role. Sometimes you have to give something up to be part of the team’s success. That’s what I learned this season … Being today in front of you as a world champion is very important to me and my teammates. It’s going to be an interesting summer.”

- An honest, open Sasha on his tough year: “It’s not a secret that I shot the ball terribly this year. I was disappointed with myself, there’s no one to blame for that, no excuses to be found. I was struggling all year long to find a game rhythm and to catch what I found last year, to play with the same (freedom) that I did last year. That was missing, but I and (Phil) know what I am capable of.”

- BUT: “It doesn’t really matter, we’re world champions at the end of the day.”

- This summer could be very important for Vujacic retaining his rhythm as he’s planning on playing big minutes with the Slovenian National Team: “That’s going to be crucial for me. Both Mitch and Phil agreed that that’s a good idea. A summer to get away, refocus and (find) rebirth. I need to completely clear my mind. We have games in Slovenia, and to be honest with you, slowly L.A. became home to me, so that has nothing to do with it. I’m confident playing for the National Team is going to bring that back.”

- Vujacic said Kobe Bryant joked about him being in the gym too long, and said there might be a little truth to it, but that he can’t change his work habits and desires: “He’s the biggest hard worker I’ve ever seen, that’s why I respect him so much,” said Vujacic of Kobe. “Hard work will always no matter what in life pay off.”

- Vujacic said he’ll report to the Slovenian National team on the 22nd of July. Beno Udrih and other well known guys will also play, he said, and they have the goal of winning the whole thing.

- Missing three weeks of training camp with an injury, according to Mitch Kupchak (through Vujacic) didn’t help Sasha’s season at all.

- Vujacic talked a lot about the pressure he puts on himself to do well, and acknowledged that it may have played a role in his pressing with limited minutes. But he can’t change his style or how he plays.