Monthly Archive for June, 2009

Page 3 of 8

Shannon Brown: Exit Interview

blog_090618shannonbrownComing to the Lakers in a midseason trade alongside Adam Morrison for Vladimir Radmanovic, Shannon Brown contributed more than most expected, particularly in the playoffs.

His numbers in 18 regular season games were limited by 7.6 minutes per game, in which he averaged 3.2 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.6 assists. In the playoffs, his minutes jumped to 13.1 per game, and he averaged 4.9 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, and more importantly, helped defend bigger point guards like Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups.

Below are some highlights from his presser:

- Brown opened by saying that he didn’t even know if he was going to be in the NBA before the season began, so participating in a championship parade was “unbelievable, a blessing.”

- Coming back to the Lakers is: “Real important. We have another chance to win another championship and continue to get better.” Quite simply: “I want to be back.”

- Brown said playing with Kobe, Pau and Lamar made his job a lot easier in terms of hitting his shots: “I’ve always felt like I had those abilities, but the system gave me a chance to show it. Playing with guys that attract a lot of attention make it easy. Those were wide open shots. I just got a chance to play basketball and it felt good.”

- More love for the team: “This team showed me so much love from the beginning, it was easy for me to feed into and buy into what was going on.”

- Brown said his teammates wanted him to get into the dunk contest after seeing his hops … In fact, Brown competed in the McDonald’s High School All-American dunk contest with LeBron James, who said he was going to compete in the 2010 contest. Remix possible.

- Brown referred to himself as a “Throw in” to the trade between Charlotte and the Lakers (from Charlotte’s end), but Mitch Kupchak didn’t seem to consider that to be the case. In fact, Brown said that Kupchak looked at Brown for specific things, asked for them, and Brown delivered.

- More on what Mitch and Phil told him: “Just continue to work on my overall game, learning the game, my shooting, defense, just continue to work hard. I think they believe I’m gonna do it.”

- On Derek Fisher’s old hops: “I got a picture of him dunking on Iverson.”

- Brown reflected on how much it meant to win a championship being from Maywood, Illinois, just a few blocks away from the United Center where Phil Jackson won his first six rings: “I told Phil that I was looking through the screen while the games were going on watching Mike and Scottie and all those guys doing their thing, going out in the back yard trying to emulate them … (Now I’m thinking I get to play for arguably the greatest coach ever to do this. It’s a great situation. I’m just happy.”

Andrew Bynum: Exit Interview

blog_090618andrewbynumJust before tearing his MCL in January, Andrew Bynum had exploded to the tune of 26.2 points, 13.8 boards and 3.2 blocks across a five-game stretch in dominating fashion. After 32 games on the pine, Bynum returned from injury with just four games left in the regular season, and while not approaching 100 percent health, played a key role in L.A.’s championship by shoring up the middle of the paint on both ends.

In the regular season as a whole, Bynum averaged 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 56 percent from the field and 70.7 percent from the free throw line in 28.9 minutes. In the playoffs, his minutes decreased to 17.4 a game, he averaged 6.3 points, 3.7 boards and 0.91 blocks on 45.7 percent from the field, but played a key defensive role in the paint.

Here are some highlights of Bynum’s exit interview:

- On what Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson had to say: “They basically just told me to do the same things I did last year during the summer time. They want me to play more, try to find some runs, maybe at UCLA. Just keep working … Sky is the limit.”

- Bynum said he’s not going to participate in the Team USA workouts because he needs to get his knee back to 100 percent. Right now, he mostly needs to rest (but also) strengthen his body.

- On the difference between this offseason and last: “Last year I had the surgery and rehab went smooth, this one was a tear and just takes a lot more time. I wanted to make it back, so I took it to the court maybe a little sooner than my trainer wanted me to. Even though I didn’t play my best ball, I got to understand the next level. The intensity was (so much higher), it was (great to experience).”

- Bynum said he doesn’t feel any added pressure with L.A. potentially missing a guy or two next season depending on how free agency works out. He’ll just play his game.

- When asked what two memories will stick out the most to him about the playoffs, Bynum cited Fisher’s two threes, which made him beam like a little kid, and the three-point shooting of Trevor Ariza in Game 5. He added that the experience was 100 percent difference from this season to last, from participating to sitting on his couch watching.

- He said he was completely surprised with how much Utah switched up how they played him in the regular season to the playoffs.

- The experience of playing with Pau Gasol, to Andrew, was “great.” He wants to improve his ability of playing from the high post so if Pau beats him up the court, he doesn’t have to adjust.

- On getting a sense from Phil on what he needs to do to be playing the fourth quarters: “I think it was just a matter of me not being physically right.”

- Bynum said he admires the strong base that Dwight Howard has that helps him with defense, and also likes the way he attacks the glass.

- Bynum talked about watching film of his torrid January streak: “First, my timing is there ….. It took about 15 games of the regular season to get into rhythm, (and then) I had it; Two, if you watch those games, I’m up and down the court, first or second always, always ahead, always involved. Coming off an injury, you just can’t get it back in a week and a half.”

- On a potential White House visit: “I hear (President Obama) likes to play basketball, so maybe we could all have a run.”

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.

Lamar Odom: Exit Interview

blog_090616lamarodomBeing asked to change his role more so than any other Laker despite being in a contract year didn’t limit the production of Lamar Odom in a terrific 2008-09, who ultimately played a major role in L.A.’s championship.

Though Odom ended up starting 32 games when Andrew Bynum went down with a torn MCL midway through the season, Odom primarily served as the most effective and versatile bench player in the league, giving L.A. a marked advantage with matchups regardless of which opponent lined up against the purple and gold.

Odom’s numbers didn’t tell the true story of his contribution, but were impressive nonetheless. In the regular season, Odom averaged 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.99 steals and 1.26 blocks on 49.2 percent from the field in 29.7 minutes. In the postseason, Odom upped his averages to 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.70 steals and 1.35 blocks in 32.0 minutes, while improving his three-point shooting percentage from 32 percent in the regular season to a team-high 51.4 percent in the playoffs, including his back-to-back threes in the third quarter of Game 5 of the Finals that cut Orlando’s comeback attempt.

Of course, much of the discussion in Odom’s exit interview dealt with his pending free agency. Here’s a summary:

- Odom began by saying that his exit interview with Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson went well, and didn’t have much to do with basketball. He said that he hoped his contract negotations would go in similar fashion, and take no longer than 20 minutes. His mind is on returning to the Lakers, be he acknowledged that he’ll just have to wait and see how negotiations go.

- Lamar said felt good about his game: “I did my job this year – come off the bench, do whatever it takes. If I had to play well, I played well, when we had to win, we won.”

- He said: “The best thing about winning a championship is you feel like you can win another one.”

- When asked what he might do if it comes down to more money somewhere else vs. less to stay in L.A.: “It’s always difficult … But at the end of the day I have to make the decision that’s best for my family. Not so much for myself but for my family. I own a home, own a car, everything I do now is for my kids.”

- Odom remains fatigued in general but has really enjoyed the outpouring of support from Lakers fans: “I’m still emotional right now. I’m tired as hell. One of the reasons I’m tired is probably because I’m so emotional. We accomplished a lot … And the parade, to be going through what we’re going to. It’s crazy. You go to a restaurant everyone stands up. You go to the super market and everyone’s clapping. It’s crazy.”

- Going to another team and starting doesn’t make a difference to Odom, who said he “Won my first championship coming off the bench.”

- On what sense he got from talking to Phil and Mitch: “We hardly talked about basketball. That’s a good sign. We took care of what we needed to on the court. They just wanted me to stay in shape.”

- And the funniest quote of the exit interviews so far: “I’m decent looking and when we go out, I’m well received. You know. They want me to take care of myself and sleep correctly, stay in the weight room. That means they want me back.” To translate, apparently Mitch and Phil were more concerned that Odom maintains his basketball shape this offseason than anything.

- Odom got his teammates a gift but didn’t want to elaborate on what it was other than explaining it was a beverage of sorts.

- He said that next season, with this Lakers roster, he expects to play more point guard and more small forward, a nod to the fact that Andrew Bynum will surely play more minutes.

- When asked about his improved three-point shooting, Odom said this: “Every time I work myself out or a big man work out I feel like I can get better at the game, and this year I shot the ball a lot better from three.” In the playoffs, anyway, that was very true.

- He said his biggest contribution was providing energy for the team: “Getting them revved up and ready to play defense. When I get going, the guys feed off it.”

- On keeping him and Trevor: “I don’t know how the books look. It’s important, we want to keep the team together. We just won a championship. You don’t want to see one piece not there if you can help it, but it’s the business.”

Key Offseason Dates

Just a week and a day after the Lakers celebrated their 2009 title with a parade through Los Angeles, the team’s executives will participate in the 2009 NBA Draft (June 25) before moving on to free agency, Summer League in Vegas, offseason workouts, training camp and the preseason.

For a general schedule for those events, CLICK HERE.

California Senators Congratulate The Lakers

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein passed a resolution on Wednesday congratulating the Los Angeles Lakers for winning the 2009 NBA Championship.

“This championship brings great pride to Los Angeles,” said Senator Boxer. “I congratulate the players, coaches, owner and general manager – and, of course – the fans. I am honored to commend the Los Angeles Lakers on winning another NBA Championship and the Lakers’ Head Coach Phil Jackson on making history by winning his 10th championship.”

Senator Feinstein added the following: “The Lakers are, in fact, the dream team of basketball. All I can say is ‘right on,’ and congratulations for a season well won.”

Jordan Farmar: Exit Interview

blog_090616jordanfarmarJordan Farmar began the 2008-09 season playing quite well off the bench, serving as the spark behind the league’s best second unit as L.A. opened 20-3, but a few games later he tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee and missed 17 games. Getting back into rhythm was tough for Farmar, though his biggest contribution of the season came at a key moment: After Derek Fisher was suspended for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against Houston, Farmar contributed 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals with just one turnover in 33 minutes of L.A.’s 108-94 win.

In the regular season, Farmar averaged 6.4 points, 2.4 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 0.88 steals in 18.3 minutes, while in the postseason, he played just 13 minutes per, putting up 4.7 points, 1.7 assists and 1.4 rebounds.

In his exit interview, he talked about what it was like balancing a player’s desire to play more with sacrificing for the team’s greater good, which ultimately paid off with a championship and more:

- “I just (want to) continue to grow,” he said. “I’ve been making pretty good strides, started off the season well and had to battle an injury to get back to where I was before … It’s hard to have both personal growth and team growth.”

- On his role for next year: “It’s tough. I think it will be similar, hopefully a little more (playing time), I’m trying to get as much as possible.”

- On the chance to start Game 3 against Houston: “It was good for me. My life long trainer told me, ‘You always need to keep your head and stay mentally tough. They’re going to have to use you.’ I didn’t play at all in the Utah series. If Derek Fisher doesn’t commit a flagrant foul I don’t know if I ever play again.”

- Farmar revealed that a few games before the regular season ended, he apologized to all the coaches for showing his frustrations. “Once they knew where my head was at it was easier for me to just enjoy the experience.” He also cited a time when Fisher addressed the team while struggling in the Rockets’ series. According to Farmar, Fish said this: “I can’t just be the leader of the choir I have to be a member also.” Farmar explained that he, Fisher and Brown all supported each other constantly no matter who was playing well or poorly.

- More on Fisher: “Fish is a champion, he’s a leader, one of the captains and he’s proved that he can still do it. I can understand why it’s such a tough spot for them. He’s valuable for so many ways that don’t even show up on the stat sheet.”

- On his summer workouts: “Just continue to work on everything really. Catch and shoot is a big thing in this system .. Defensively putting more pressure on some of the guards … Just a bit of everything. For me it’s about my body and my mindset.”

Sun Yue: Exit Interview

blog_090616sunyueIn his rookie year out of China, Sun Yue played just 28 minutes across 10 games, scoring a total of six points with two assists, and was inactive throughout the playoffs. Sun did get some valuable playing time in the D-League, and is currently deciding whether or not to play in L.A.’s summer league or to go home and train with the Chinese National Team.

Here are some of his exit interview comments:

- On what he went over with Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak: “Just talked about the whole season, my injury, where I need to improve: I need to put on more weight (and strength), play some minutes, to play in more games, get more experience.”

- Sun, who’s a funny, positive guy, said that he’s lucky not to be the only rookie that received little to no playing time: “This year, I learned a lot about the NBA. It was a great life experience.”

- Sun said he improved on all of the basketball skill sets because of all the practice time with great players, particularly his ball handling and shooting. He also put on 20 pounds of muscle.

- On the adjustment: “It’s my first time living in America. The people around you are all American … It’s totally different from when I was living in China. Everything was new, but I like it.”

- Sun says he does want to be back with the Lakers: “When you play with the best basketball team in the world and the best player, you can definitely learn.”

- “Everybody on the team was very nice,” he added. “They helped me when I didn’t know what to say (with the language) or what I should do because I was a rookie.”

- More than anything else, he’s looking forward not to do all the rookie chores that he was saddled with throughout the season.

- Sun closed with a fun note: “I don’t know why the Chinese media is here, I wanted to speak Chinese!” The Chinese media then went outside to interview him.

Trevor Ariza: Exit Interview

blog_090616trevorarizaNo Laker improved more from the regular season to the playoffs than Trevor Ariza, as witnessed by his numbers.

During the regular season, Ariza averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and a team-high 1.67 steals in 24.4 minutes on 46 percent shooting from the field and 31.9 percent from three. In the playoffs, he went up to 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.57 steals in 31.4 minutes, but most impressive was the improvement in his shooting and thus his efficiency. He nailed 47.6 percent of his three pointers and 49.7 percent overall from the field, consistently punishing teams for leaving him alone.

However, much of Ariza’s exit interview dealt with his pending free agency:

- He opened by suggesting he doesn’t want to go anywhere: “I would love to, I hope so, I feel like I am at home because I am, but I’d love to come back.”

- Ariza added what’s most important in his coming contract: “Definitely stability would mean the most. Money is important, this is our job … But I built a bond with my coaches and teammates, and I get a feeling we could be really good for a really long time.”

- Ariza said that Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak told him that he improved a lot, and were really happy with how he played and how much he was able to help the team. “I felt loved in there,” he added. “I felt a lot of love.”

- When asked how much winning plays a part in his decision, he said this: “I’m a winner. I love to win. I hate losing. When I played for other teams even in college I wasn’t too happy. Winning plays a big part of it.”

- Ariza said he didn’t get the sense that it was between him and Lamar Odom in terms of whom the Lakers could re-sign.

- Will he continue to improve? Of course: “I’m a person that will never stop working no matter how good I get because I always feel that you can get better in some way.”

- He said he thought Derek Fisher’s leveling of Luis Scola in Game 2 of the Western Conference semis was the biggest play of the postseason because it showed L.A.’s toughness.

- Ariza concluded that he wants to focus most on his guard skills in the offseason, though he said he’d be working on “everything.”

Luke Walton: Exit Interview

blog_090616lukewaltonEmbracing his roll off the bench after starting 34 games before the All-Star break, all the while battling foot and ankle injuries, Luke Walton played a key roll off the bench in the playoffs thanks primarily to his basketball IQ and ability to move the basketball.

He averaged 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 17.9 minutes per game on 43.6 percent shooting, plus 3.8 points, 2.5 boards and 2.1 assists in 15.8 minutes of postseason action.

Below are highlights of his exit interview:

- Walton pointed out that Adam Morrison should be the one to play the Mark Madsen dance role at the parade.

- “We feel like we can (do it again),” Walton said when asked about his outlook on next season. He noted that the front office is going to have a lot of work to do to keep the team together, and said: “I know they want to.”

- Like Fisher and Gasol, Walton had a positive note about Phil Jackson’s potential return: “I hope he’s coming back. The way he was talking was what he expects for next year, everything with the intention that he’ll be back. Obviously I can’t read into Phil, not many people can. I’m sure he’ll let the people know this summer.”

- On his adversity-filled year: “I think because of all (the adversity) it makes it that much more special. I had surgery in the offseason and when I came back they were already going with Vladi (Vladimir Radmanovic) and Trevor (Ariza) off the bench…” Then Walton hurt his foot, and had to earn back his bench minutes after Radmanovic was traded.

- Walton first developed his knack for making plays by competing with his older brothers as a way to stay on the court (they wouldn’t let him shoot much). He said he’s always enjoyed making plays, and then when it became easy to get 30 in high school and do what it took to get games, but when he got to college with players like Gilbert Arenas and Richard Jefferson (at Arizona), he “Stopped shooting as much and turned more into a facilitator.” Full circle.

- His primary focus in the offseason is putting his body in position not to get hurt, in addition to improving his outside shooting.

- Walton said he hasn’t focused too much on being one of three father-son combinations, and quipped that there will be some pressure on one of his future kids to win one when prompted by a reporter’s facetious question.

- Finally, on the season: “It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had. I thought we had an unbelievable team as far as chemistry and I think if we can bring this team back we’ll definitely be competing for a title at least for the next couple of years. It’ll be interesting to see how they work it out … We’ll have to see what other teams are offering (to our free agents).”