Author Archive for Trevor Wong

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VINE: Lakers Say Thank You for Support

Ryan Kelly: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0583Rookie Ryan Kelly appeared in 59 games (25 starts) towards averages of 8.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 42.3 percent field goals overall and 33.8 percent on three-pointers. While working his way back from a foot injury, Kelly played five contests with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers NBA D-League affiliate, and posted marks of 25.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks.

- Opening statement:
“This has obviously been a tough year for us as a team and for the organization. But it’s something as individuals we’ve grown a lot. I know for me personally, I’ve grown a lot as a player and as a person. I would’ve never imagined being drafted by the Lakers and being in the position I am today. I’m excited for my future going forward.”

- On the feedback he received in his exit meeting:
“My feedback has been pretty consistent. Everybody was happy with my play as a rookie. If you ask me, I shouldn’t have been the 48th pick anyway. I was lucky I fell to a great organization like the Lakers to get that opportunity.”

- On when he felt like himself prior to his injury:
“Playing in the D-League was huge. Getting a lot of minutes, getting into shape and have a free flowing attitude and playing. I wasn’t lacking in any confidence in my ability. I constantly had a chip on my shoulder that teams that had picked the players before me had made a mistake that I wasn’t an NBA player.”

- On what he showed he can do as a player in his first year in the league and what he needs to do to take that next step as a player:
“For my growth, I showed I can do a lot of things. Most rookies have their ups and downs and I did too. There were times where I shot the ball better at times and was moving better at times. The more physically stronger I can become, the better player I can become. I’ve shown that I can play at the highest level.” Kelly also noted he wanted to become a knock down shooter in this league.

- On what this offseason regimen will entail:
“For my skillset, I have to become a better shooter. When people run at you, you have to have able to put the ball on the floor and make plays. It’s going to be about strength, but not necessarily about weight. I’m never going to be 260 pounds like some of the big power forwards, but I have to keep adding strength and muscle. I’ve started to do that and I think this offseason will be huge for me.”

- On how much buying into the nutrition program the team abides by helped his progress:
“No question. I think for a rookie, I did a good job of buying into the nutrition thing. I was in survival mode in this league and (trying) to find any way to stay in. For me, that’s going to be a huge part of my future – handling my body and handling my nutrition.”

Robert Sacre: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0563Second-year center Robert Sacre appeared in 65 games (13 starts) towards averages of 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds on 47.7 percent field goals in 16.8 minutes.

- On what he learned most from this season:
“That I belong. Sometimes it’s tough for coaches to deal with players that don’t know where they fit in this league. I feel like I fit in this system.”

- On where he sees his game improving:
“I see myself being a really good player, offensively and defensively. I need to improve on some stuff and I need to be realistic, but I feel like I can get there.” Sacre noted that his increased playing time this year helped with his development.

- On playing with Steve Nash:
“Steve has been a great influence on me from the fact we came from the same area. If he can’t play due to his body, he’ll be around and you can take whatever is in his mind and use it towards your game. I’m definitely going to be picking his brain.”

- On what he saw from the guys throughout the season:
“We had to deal with a lot of adversity. It showed a lot of character on the team. People stuck with it and bought into the system even though it wasn’t the season we wanted. It showed a lot of character how guys toughed it out.”

Wesley Johnson: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0554Wesley Johnson appeared in 79 games (62 starts) towards averages of 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks. Johnson was one of two players (including Paul Millsap) in the league to average at least 1.0 three-pointer made, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game this season.

- On his message from Mitch Kupchak and Mike D’Antoni in his exit meeting:
“Continue to work and be aggressive and to stay confident in my shot. Defensively, you can be a really good defender. You just need to apply to your game.”

- On what he saw personally from the team this season:
“You hate to see all the people injured, but it sucked we didn’t see that chemistry dealing with all the stuff we had to deal with, but it worked out for me showing what I could do as a player.” Johnson also noted it was a “dream come true” play in L.A.

- On playing for Mike D’Antoni:
“I think being here, I felt freedom. It was a sigh of relief to just go out and play. Coach Mike D’Antoni tells you what he expects. He said just go out and play hard.”

- On playing and being around Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant:
“It still was fun. I can speak on my behalf and cool to pick their brains, especially (Steve) Nash to see how he worked to get back from his injury. Kobe (Bryant) was helping me with how he guarded certain people.” He noted Bryant is a “maniac” in terms of game preparation.

Jodie Meeks: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0549During his second year in Los Angeles, Jodie Meeks appeared in 77 games (70 starts) towards career highs in points (15.7), rebounds (2.5), assists (1.8), steals (1.4), field-goal percentage (46.3), three-point field goal percentage (40.1) and minutes (33.2). Most notably, his conversion rate around the rim (from less than five feet and in) increased from 50.4 percent in 2012-13 to 61.5 percent this season. Meeks also finished tied for 17th in the league in three-point field goals made (162).

- On the season:
“Despite all the losses, guys were professional and worked hard, and we tried to win every game. It’s never easy losing, but we approached every game to win. The coaching staff did a great job of preparing and kept preaching to us that we could always get better and we’re playing for more than just winning.”

- On what went into his improvement this year:
- I worked a lot on ballhandling and finishing at the rim. They were impressed with how I improved but (I want to take that next step).”

- On possibly returning to L.A.:
“I want to come back. We’ll have to see how the draft goes and free agency goes. I love playing here. It’s a packed house. I’ve been on teams where there’s like 2,000 people in the stands and that’s not fun.”

- On how he would sum up his two years here:
“It’s a little disappointing, especially the first year. I thought we’d at least go to the Western Conference Finals. This year we had a lot of injuries and I was able to expand my game. I showed what I could do. On a personal note, I feel like it was a good season. You don’t get any individual accolades. You have to win as a team.”

Pau Gasol: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0542Pau Gasol appeared and started in 60 games towards averages of 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks on 48.5 percent field goals. Gasol put together one of the best stretches of his career in January, scoring at least 20 points in 10 straight and recording 11 double-doubles. He missed the final eight games of the year due to vertigo and also battled injury (strained right groin) and illness (upper respiratory infection) earlier in the season.

- On if he’ll be back next season:
“Like I say every year, I don’t know. This year is a little different. I wasn’t sure if I’d be traded. This year, that possibility is out of the questions. It’s now because I’m in charge of my future and destiny and listen to the possibilities on the table. I look at this as an opportunity probably for the first and last time I’ll be a free agent where I can choose. It’s nothing like I’ve experienced before in the NBA.”

Gasol added: “I’m still going to listen to the Lakers and what they have to offer and what they’ll say about the team’s situation and position at the time. We know what it is today, but we don’t know what it’ll be on July 1.”

- On winning being a priority for him this late in his career and whether the Lakers can match what he’s seeking:
“If we have Kobe (Bryant) being healthy and Steve (Nash) being healthier, we’d have a strong core and we haven’t been able to utilize that the last two years.”

- On what was going through his mind during the last home game knowing if it could possibly his last time as a Laker:
“The last few years I kept on my mind it could be my last day here so I tried to enjoy it. It’s been on my mind quite often. I try not to think about it. Whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best. I’ve had an amazing career until this point and I want to try and prolong it at a high level.”

- On his time here in Los Angeles, if he doesn’t return:
“I’m thankful and I appreciate our fans support I received over the years, not when things were going great and we were winning but also when people recognize my efforts and commitment and loyalty to the team despite everything. That’s when you most appreciate the support. I think it’s been amazing for the most part. All things considered, it’s been extremely great for me. I am glad I got to be a part of this franchise and this city.”

- On why he thinks him and Kobe Bryant work so well together:
“We compliment each other well, personally and professionally. Since Day 1, it’s been a key part of success and how we function so well. I have great respect for him and what he brings to the table is very unique.”

Steve Nash: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0520For the second straight season, Steve Nash battled nerve root irritation problems stemming from a broken leg suffered during the 2012-13 campaign and appeared in just 15 games (10 starts) overall towards averages of 6.8 points and 5.7 assists on 38.3 percent field goals and 33.3 percent on three-pointers. Despite being sidelined most of the year, Nash passed Mark Jackson for third all-time in assists in NBA history in his final game of the 2013-14 season vs. Houston.

- On his exit meeting:
“Mitch (Kupchak) has been incredibly supportive of me. Obviously it’s been disappointing for all of us, and particularly, my situation has been a nightmare. The whole organization and Mitch has been incredibly supportive and classy. They appreciated how hard I worked to get back and hopefully I’ll be back next year.”

- On if there was a time where he doubted whether he could continue to play:
“There was a period where I couldn’t get healthy. I played six or seven games to begin the season and I didn’t play well at all. I wondered if that was it. I proved I can still play, but it’s a matter of whether I can sustain it or not.”

- On whether he knows he’ll be able to sustain his play consistently over the duration of an 82-game season:
“I’m going to try and figure that out this summer. In my mind, I think I’ll be in camp. I don’t take anything for granted these days. I want to put myself in a position where I can compete.” Nash noted he was on the court a lot last summer trying to get healthy, but couldn’t sprint for five months. It wasn’t until late August or September that he could do that.

- On why he still plays/what he is playing for:
“The games I played recently I had so much fun. I would’ve loved to play some more. I just wanted to play and wanted to take advantage of every chance I got.”

- On if he’s nervous about the future:
“We’ve hit the bottom. We had championship aspirations and nothing has gone right, individually and collectively, but not from a lack of want and trying. Sometimes you have to take your shots and keep fighting. You can’t always be on top. You can’t quit when you’re done and we’re in this situation. I’m not nervous. I would love to be on the court fighting and giving the team what I can during this transition.”

Nick Young: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0514Nick Young appeared in 64 games (nine starts) and averaged a team-high 17.9 points, plus 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 43.5 percent field goals and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. In the last 15 games of the season after returning from his knee injury on Mar. 21, he was particularly efficient from the floor, shooting 47.6 percent overall and 45.3 percent on three-pointers.

- On his exit meeting:
“Hopefully I could be back but we’ll see what (the Lakers’) plans are after the draft and settle in to what they want to do. I appreciate everything they said to me and being able to do what I do here, and for coach to let me play my game was big.”

- On whether he thinks he’ll be back next year:
“I feel at home here. I feel the support from the fans. I have to look out for myself and my family at the same time.” Young believes he can be a major piece for a team, especially after what he showed this season.

- On how he would describe this season:
“I haven’t seen this with guys getting injured pretty much every day.” He elaborated and pointed to the Cleveland game where the Lakers had to bring out Steve Nash on the bench because they only had four players available. L.A. missed a league-leading 319 games due to injury/illness.

- On Mike D’Antoni getting much of the blame for the team’s struggles this year:
“It’s a shame that he’s been getting beat up all year. It might have came out a little wrong. He’s a soldier. He dealt with the boos. Anytime you come in after Phil Jackson – over Phil Jackson – it’s going to be a tough situation. He handled it well.”

- On his relationship with Kobe Bryant:
“I think it can only get better. Just seeing his work ethic, I can learn from that.”
Should Young return, he believes he can help take some of the scoring load and defensive attention away from Kobe. He’d see himself in a sixth man role, similar to this season, while adjusting to Bryant when sharing the court.

Jordan Farmar: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0506During his second stint in Los Angeles, Jordan Farmar played 41 games (five starts) and averaged 10.1 points, 4.9 assists and 2.5 rebounds on 41.5 percent field goals overall. He finished the year ranked sixth in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (43.8) despite missing 41 games from a strained groin and hamstring tears on two separate occasions.

- Opening statement:
“Given the circumstances we’re not playing and we’re here (doing exit interviews), I had to deal with some injuries, but overall I showed some growth and I’m excited about the possibility for the future.”

- On if he thinks he’ll return next year:
“I’m pretty confident. This is a business and we need to approach it as such. I love Los Angeles, I love this organization and the fans. This is definitely where my heart is at.”

- On what he’s learned since first playing in L.A. till now this season:
“I’m starting to really understand my game. That was the biggest thing overseas. We were really going to live or die how I performed. Being able to shoot the ball is a tremendous asset and to make shots is huge in this league. My last two seasons I’ve been up over 40 percent (on three-pointers).”

- On how he viewed this season:
“Just trying to put it behind us. Not try to think about it. I view it as an asterisk season. We didn’t have a fair shot at it.”

- On playing with Steve Nash:
“It was great. He was somebody I had looked up to and envied what he had been doing for so long. I would sit next to him on the plane and talk about basketball and life in general. I can’t say enough about how great he was as a teammate.”

- On the injuries this season:
“Sometimes things just happen. It doesn’t have to do with toughness or strength. Injuries are a part of this game. It’s unfortunate it had to be this way. Mike D’Antoni has coached this way for a long time and it hasn’t happened before.” Farmar noted it was unfair for people to blame the coaching staff and his style of play for the injuries.

- On if he saw the team bought in to what the coaching staff wanted to do:
“Not much but understandably so. The lineup was different every night. It’s tough to win games. Out here we were just playing and we were trying to figure it out. Once we figured it out, someone went down with an injury. Once you know your role and once you know what’s going to happen, you can just do your part.”

- On playing with Nick Young this season:
“It was awesome. I was happy to see how his season played out. To see Nick really blossom into we knew who he could be. To see him smiling and play basketball, that infectious nature rubbed off on the fans and in the locker room. When we were on the floor, we had a lot of fun together.”

Jordan Hill: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0496Jordan Hill appeared in 73 games (32 starts) towards career high averages of 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds on 54.9 percent field goals in 20.8 minutes. With Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman both sidelined the final eight games of the season, Hill upped his numbers to 16.6 points and 10.1 boards in April, and also posted five double-doubles.

- Opening statement:
“I’m looking forward to the offseason. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m going to continue to work hard and see what my next move is. I wouldn’t mind coming back here. I had a great time with my team and the (coaching) staff. There’s been a lot of ups and downs this season. I’m going to see how this summer pans out.”

- On if his career high in minutes affected him at all on the court:
“It gets tiring sometimes but I still have that adrenaline flowing where I feel invincible out there. I compete and play hard. A lot of people missed time due to injuries. It was definitely a tiring season.”

- On where he could see himself playing:
“I think I’m a good fit for any team – a great rebounder, an energy guy that can go out there and hard 24/7. I can also block shots. I feel I’m a great fit and I would love to play on any team that needs a guy like me.”

- On an ideal situation for him (position, minutes, etc.) in the NBA:
“I think I could be a good power forward, but I know I can play any position. You put me out there and I’ll get something done. Playing 25-27 minutes a game don’t sound so bad. I really showed I can produce when given those types of minutes.”