Archive for the 'Exit Interviews' Category

Mitch Kupchak: 2014 Exit Interview

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- Opening statement:
“At some point in the near future, I will sit down with Mike (D’Antoni) and probably Jim Buss and review the season, which is what we do every year at some point at the conclusion of the season.”

- On Kobe Bryant leaving town before the regular season ended:
“First of all, I did not know he was leaving town. Second of all, it’s a bigger story to you guys than it is to us. We had a tough year and Kobe (Bryant) has had a two tough years and two career threatening injuries. He’s had to live through this season that we had to live through together. I haven’t spoken to him in the last day or two but I understand (with him) leaving town, he will see his medical consultant in Europe. All things considered, to me, it’s not that big a deal.”

- On if D’Antoni will be the head coach next season:
“Mike is under contract for two more years. If anything happens, we’ll let you know.”

- On if he gives D’Antoni some leeway with all the injuries that hit the team:
“Under the circumstances, I’m not sure anybody could have done a better job (than) he did.”

- On if his view or approach on free agency has shifted knowing that the team’s pick this year will be high and the way the contracts are structured currently:
“Well, we didn’t expect to have a good pick and it looks like we’re going to have a good pick. Hopefully on May 20th, it becomes a much better pick, but there’s also a chance it becomes a less attractive pick, which is the nature of the lottery. We haven’t had a pick this high since I’ve been here, which is quite some time*. That’s exciting. We’ve been doing a lot of canvassing the country like everybody else watching games and watching the players. It’s a good group this year. We’re confident the asset will be a good asset for us going into the draft. Regarding the other part of the question, cap strategy and financial flexibility is a huge part, particularly with the new collective bargaining agreement. It’s really the main tool you have to work with to improve your team. Fortunately we’re in a market where that gives us advantages to pursue players. We do feel having the draft pick is an asset and having the financial flexibility going forward is as good a position as we can be in. Like I said, there is a degree of patience here. We have to make sure we use it wisely. If we can use it wisely right away, we will. If we have to use part of it and then wait a year to use the other part of it, we’ll do that. Just creating an environment where you have that flexibility sometimes takes teams six to eight years to do and we just have to be wise about our choices.”
*This pick will be L.A.’s highest since 1982, when they took James Worthy at No. 1 overall.


- On approaching the players on one-year deals on the current team:
“Despite the season and despite the criticism for having players with one-year deals, I thought we had a pretty good look at a lot of guys that are pretty talented. I would speculate that there’s a good possibility that we pursue some of them to come back.”

- On the utilization of cap space:
“We don’t want to predetermine that we’re going to spend or use our flexibility today. A lot of it is going to depend on the marketplace and our draft choice. There are a lot of guys on our team I like a lot, but we don’t know what the marketplace is going to dictate their contracts are going forward. You just don’t know.”

- On looking at the top of this year’s draft class and where he sees potential draft picks making an impact:
“They’re varying in degrees based on the player you’re talking about. Under normal circumstances you have to wait a year or two for a young player (to develop). A lot of times, the kids that come out are freshman. It’s rare, although we’ve seen it. Typically, based on maturity and position, it’s going to take a year or two. I think there are some players that are a little bit older in the draft that aren’t just freshmen and may be able to make a contribution quicker. But once again, we’ll have to see where we’re drafting. The list is still incomplete in terms of early entry candidates, so we’ll have to wait on that as well.”

- On Mike D’Antoni’s comments on how the game has changed and where he sees the game today and how it’s evolved:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s changed. He’s 100 percent correct, and if you look at college, it’s more of how they play in college. If you look at those NCAA games several weeks ago, they were pushing the ball up the court and shooting 3-pointers before there’s a rebounder near the basket. That’s just how they play today. It is fun to watch. At the beginning of the season, we were fun to watch and we were relatively healthy. The rules today promote that style of play. There are actually coaches today that tell their team we’re going to score in one of three ways: free throws, layups and three-pointers. The idea of a two-point shot doesn’t even come up in a conversation with some coaches. That’s just the way it is today. Will it be that way 10-15 years from now? I don’t know. It is entertaining, it’s fun to watch and players love to play that way. I think it’s here to stay. The challenge is having to incorporate your talents of certain players on a team into a style of play if that’s how you want to play. But I think that’s how the game is played today.”


- On if re-signing Pau Gasol is a priority in the offseason:
“Absolutely he’s a priority. If you look at the free agent board or the guys that may be a free agent, there’s probably not a player as good as Pau on the board. He’s waited a bunch of years to become a free agent. He’s going to get phone calls, so we’ll do our best to stay on top of it. I think Pau has a good relationship with this organization and I know he loves this city. We’ll have to see what the market dictates.”

- On if this was one of the more difficult years he’s experienced:
“No, actually it wasn’t. I know it was difficult for our fans and I thank them for their support and patience. Early on, when the injury bug hit, there was really nothing we could do. We had players under contract because they were getting paid so little and on one-year deals, we couldn’t trade them and get anything back in return that was better. Certain things are out of your control. I think Mike (D’Antoni) understood it and we understood it. It wasn’t easy for our fans with the year we had, but quite frankly, there was nothing we could do about it. There wasn’t a trade that we could do and bring somebody else on board. We had a feel going into the season how we wanted to end the season in terms of our flexibility. I think we did the best we could. It was a stressful year for our fans. I don’t think they questioned our direction, but we have passionate, loyal fans. They don’t want to see us lose.”

- On if he feels pressured to put together a contender in the time frame Kobe Bryant is under contract for the next two seasons:
“We want the same thing. Everybody in this room knows Kobe. He’s not the most patient person in the world and that’s not going to change. We’ve won five championships because of the package he brings to this franchise. We want to win and win as soon as possible. But it takes an organization a long time to get into a position we’re in now where we have options going forward financially and we have to use wise decisions with that (cap) space.”

- On Steve Nash’s injury woes:
“When we signed Steve, nobody anticipated in the second game, he’d break his leg. Not unexpectedly because he is an older player, but when that happens later in your career, one thing leads to another. A lot of times it doesn’t, but in his case it did. Nobody has worked harder and has been more frustrated than he’s been. He wants to play next year. From an organization standpoint, it’s hard to say from the point guard position: ‘We can bank on this guy.’ We can’t do that. We have to make sure that that position is covered. I know Steve will be in here every day, he’ll be in Vancouver working with his trainer, he’ll be in this gym working with our people. We’ll know more as the (summer) goes along.”

- On if signing a starting caliber point guard is a priority this offseason:
“We’ll see. We’ll see what the draft holds and we’ll see who is available in free agency. We have a nice young ballhandling guard who had an opportunity to play and who I thought from time to time really showed he could play in this league. Is he ready to lead a team through the playoffs? That remains to be seen. But we are optimistic on Kendall Marshall going forward.”

- On if he would have approached getting under the luxury tax around the trade deadline knowing how this season ended:
“No. This organization rarely, if ever, has made a strategic decision just to save money. I’m not exactly sure – there’s a lot of rumor – what deal we could have done but there was a lot of activity. The bottom line was we didn’t feel making a financial deal and not getting an asset back was the right message to send from this organization. The luxury tax is going to be important but that won’t prevent us from fielding a team that we feel can contend for a championship. We’re certainly not in a position where we were a couple seasons ago where we were locked into the tax.”

Mike D’Antoni: 2014 Exit Interview

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- On his thoughts on this season:
“We’ve talked about it almost every day for the last couple months. A lot of the injuries were odd injuries that don’t usually occur on a basketball team. It happened and we dealt with it as best we could. Nobody is happy how the season went. It was tough from the very beginning. Some things had to break right and they didn’t break right. We could never get that full array of guys healthy at the same time.”

- On if it angers him or frustrates him that he’s being criticized:
“No, I think every NBA coach coming off a year that goes sideways, (they) should be under scrutiny. It’s part of the job. I think as coaches, we hold ourselves under scrutiny. We see what we could have done better, should have done this better, should have done that. There will come a day where I sit down with management and see where they want to go, and try to get on the same page.”

- On if it’s fair fans are criticizing him or blaming him despite all the injuries (L.A. missed a league-leading 319 games due to injury/illness):
“I think so. There’s always things we could have done better. I think that’s normal. Our job is to: ‘What could we have done better?’ It’s easier in hindsight to say we should have done this or should have done that. For the most part, our guys were competitive and we developed some guys. There were some silver linings in there, but as a whole, the season was very disappointing for everybody.”

- On if the pace the team plays at contributed to or played a factor in all the injuries this season:
“To me, it’s ludicrous. To me, the pace you play and the way you spread the floor leads to less injuries just because you don’t pound and hit. To me, that leads to less (injuries). I don’t believe in that.”

- On his relationship with Kobe Bryant now:
Professional. He’s a big time competitor and he’s going to do anything to win. I’m competitive and I’m going to try and do anything to win. Sometimes that does butt heads a bit, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

- On if the last two seasons have been diluted at all:
“A little bit. But we didn’t get the best of anything because of injuries. When that happens you don’t get a traction or consistency in the play. That happens. It’s a byproduct of losing or struggling and you can’t get over the hump but quite can’t get there for whatever reason.”

- On how the game has changed over the years from when he first implemented his system in Phoenix until now, where he sees the game going in the future and how it’s played:
“I do think the game is changing and it has changed. Some of the hard part of coaching is trying to drag people over to the next side. People are comfortable with doing business a certain way. When that business kind of shifts to get people to change, it’s not easy. It’s a process. I do think the league is going to a more open style and a faster style. Analytics not only are gut feelings from people and coaches, but analytics have also proven certain things. Again, the problem comes when they start debating this and you get into black and whites. There’s always a grey area and you always tweak it. One team is a little faster, one team spreads it more than someone else. I hear all the time: ‘The two-point shot is going away.’ No, it’s never going away. It’ll always be there. It might go down. It doesn’t mean there’s no place for a post up player or the mid-range game. It’s just not what is dominant today and will be. Unless the NBA changes the rules again, like the three-point line and the no hand checking, then basketball is going a certain way. The problem is most people commenting on it played a different way and now you’re shaping opinion a different way. That’s not where it’s going to go. As soon as they embrace it a little more, I think they’re better off. But basketball has changed, and it’s not the same basketball your father played. The teams that adapt to it quicker are going to be more successful quicker.”

- On if the Lakers have adopted that philosophy:
“I think it’s been a process and will be a process. That’s probably the most challenging part is changing opinions. You need everything to go the right way and it didn’t. So opinions out there that say that doesn’t work are not convinced of it. That’s the challenging part of the league.”

- On how he wins over the fanbase and changes public opinion whether his style of play is effective:
“Winning. That’s the only way you can do it. They have the right to feel the way they feel because we didn’t have a great year. That comes with being a fan. Opinion is shaped by the record. You have a hard time explaining this works when you lose 10 in a row.”

- On how he managed to keep the guys positive under the circumstances:
“I think it starts with the coaching staff that comes every day with a positive attitude trying to get better. I think the players feed off that. If they know you’re genuinely in it for them, and you’ll take as much criticism or more for them than they are, they’ll buy in unless they’re bad guys. And we didn’t have bad guys. We had great guys. I think that the coaching staff did a great job of never letting down one day. Never had those days. Players didn’t have those days. They were dealt an unbelievably bad hand coming in here. Things had to break right and it didn’t. It broke the worst way possible, but they hung in there and did their job exceedingly well for the hand they were dealt without a lot of support for them. I’m proud of them for their character.”

- On Pau Gasol’s play the last two seasons playing in his system:
“In his mind, he’d like to play a little differently. He had success in different ways. But I think his stats and his play showed he can be effective in any system. It doesn’t matter. Again, I think that at the end of both years, he had really good (games). He started off slow both years and that’s where we kind of got in trouble. His play the first three or four months wasn’t the Pau Gasol, and he turned into it. At the end, we might have a little different philosophy, but at the same time, I feel he played really well.”

- On his optimism Steve Nash will be able to play next season without any nagging injuries:
“I’m optimistic he’ll give everything he’s got to play. He loves to play basketball, he loves to be a great teammate, he loves to win, he’s an unbelievable competitor in his own way. That I am optimistic. Can he do it? I don’t know with his injuries. I’m not a doctor. I know the reservations. He’s 40 years old. Everybody has those. He has them, but he will battle and try to be effective at whatever role he has. I know for sure he’ll give everything he’s got to get there.”

- On how much faith has that L.A. will be able to turn it around to get back on the right track:
“One-hundred percent. There’s no doubt. L.A. is a great destination for anybody. You don’t have all those banners for nothing. Jim (Buss) Mitch (Kupchak) do an unbelievable job at maximizing the possibilities. But it does take time. There are (rules) in place. It takes a little bit of luck and tweaking, but there’s no doubt they’ll get it done.”

MarShon Brooks: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0627Acquired from Golden State on Feb. 19, MarShon Brooks appeared in 18 games with the Lakers towards averages of 6.4 points, 1.7 assists and 1.2 assists on 48.9 percent field goals and 57.9 percent on three-pointers.


- On his time here in L.A.
“I don’t feel like I played bad. I thought I played pretty well but guys started coming back and I was the odd man out in terms of minutes. I started to lose a little confidence not knowing my role or not knowing when I’d get in the game.”

- On if it was frustrating for him being in that situation:
“It’s the NBA. All you can do is work hard and control what you can control. You’re only as good as your opportunity.”

- On the feedback he received from Mike D’Antoni:
“He knew I was talented. Just have to find a way to play within the system instead of being just a talented one-on-one player.”

- On the past year playing for three different teams (Celtics, Warriors, Lakers):
“I’m at a crossroads. I just have to go earn a spot, which I don’t mind at all.”

- On what he needs to do to improve as a player:
“Just be more efficient with the ball. Just continue to work on my body and get stronger, become a better shooter and make things happen faster.”

Kendall Marshall: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0596Claimed out of the NBA D-League in mid-December, Kendall Marshall soon found himself in the starting lineup due to injuries that hit every Lakers point guard. He appeared in 54 games (45 starts) towards averages of 8.0 points, 8.8 assists (second in the league) and 2.9 rebounds on 40.6 percent field goals and 39.9 percent on three-pointers. During one stretch in January, he posted five straight games of at least 10 points and 10 assists, one of three players to have such a streak this year.




- On how his exit meeting went and what type of feedback he received from Mitch Kupchak and Mike D’Antoni:

“Meeting went well. We talked about what I needed to get better at for next year. The main thing was the mental approach. Obviously I have some physical limitations so they want to make sure I master the game mentally. I felt like I was a rookie this year. Playing every single night and playing almost 40 minutes a night wore on me.”

- On if he envisioned being handed the reigns to an NBA team:
“I didn’t see that coming. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity. Certain things had to fall into place. I don’t wish injuries on anybody but I was the benefactor of that. When I first got here, I was just happy to be here. I was trying to be the greatest teammate. Then I realized I could play in this league. If I work hard I can play in this league.”

- On the influence Steve Nash had on him this year:
“Steve Nash is a great veteran. I felt like I was creeping on him. When you have a guy as great as him, you want to watch his every move. When he went out for his pregame workouts, I would pull out my phone and video tape him. I wanted to see what he does.”

- On what he learned this season:
“I showed I can run a team. I can get guys the ball. I don’t think it was ever a question but it was more solidified and I showed an ability to knock down shots. Now it’s just doing it on a more consistent basis.”

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.”