Archive for the 'Exit Interviews' Category

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Andrew Goudelock: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_GoudelockThe Lakers recalled Andrew Goudelock from the NBA D-League days after Kobe Bryant’s season-ending injury. He played six minutes in the regular-season finale against Houston.

With L.A.’s top four guards out injured, Goudelock started his first career contest in Game 3 of the playoffs against San Antonio, scoring a career-high 20 points. He followed that with a 14-point, 4-rebound effort in Game 4.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On his crazy season: “I definitely think I’ve come a long way. From getting cut (by the Lakers in training camp), going to the D-League for the whole season, winning the MVP and then coming back and getting significant minutes (in the playoffs) … it was crazy. I ended up getting a call, everybody got hurt, and I’m starting in the playoffs.”

- On the difficulty of playing San Antonio, with all their experience, when the Lakers had barely played alongside one another: “We definitely tried … it was just tough. We hadn’t played together, I didn’t even know any of the plays. I don’t think anyone could have envisioned this in training camp. If you look at the roster, you see a championship contender, and for everything to happen like it has, that’s just how the business is.”

- Goudelock on Kobe Bryant: “The guy is a warrior – just being around him last year, I tried to take that mentality myself, where nothing can penetrate your mind. The first thing he said to me when he got hurt: ‘It’s a small thing to a giant.’ He’s just such a competitor, and you can’t teach those things. His knowledge of the game is crazy.”

- Goudelock on Steve Nash: “One of the nicest guys I ever met – I always thought you had to have a bad boy image in the league to gain people’s respect, but he’s a pure heart, he does everything for the betterment of the team. I asked him and Steve Blake a lot of questions when they were out … the experience was invaluable. I just tried to soak it all in.”

- The College of Charleston product was refreshingly honest about what it was like being in the D-League, where he was scoring a ton, dropping dimes when no one said he could play point guard, then watching his backup get called up by the Clippers, and another teammate who was injured get the call to New Orleans. He was just frustrated and feeling like he could add something to the next level, but never quit, kept working until he was named League MVP. The Lakers call up was something of a fluke due to injuries, but he hopes he was able to remind GM’s of what he can do, and that he’ll have a chance to make a roster next season.

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Devin Ebanks: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_EbanksIn his third year in Los Angeles, Devin Ebanks started three games and appeared in 19 towards averages of 3.4 points and 2.2 boards in 11 minutes.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- Ebanks, who will be a free agent, stated this: “Next season, I’m going to look around and weigh my options as far as other teams next year. I just want to thank Mitch (Kupchak) and the Lakers organization for giving me an opportunity the last three years.”

- “It was definitely a disappointing year knowing how hard I worked in the summer. Just the whole season overall, it was a big disappointment for me. I don’t want to get down. I’ll be back better next year.”

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Earl Clark: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_ClarkEarl Clark started 36 games and appeared in 59 towards averages of 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds on 44.0 percent field goals. He played sparingly during the first two months of the year, but found a spot in coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation after a 22-point, 13-rebound performance at San Antonio in early January.

Clark averaged 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 20 minutes per game in the playoffs.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- Clark, a free agent this summer, was appreciative of the opportunity the Lakers gave him and repeatedly stated he wants to remain with the team. “I want to be a Laker. Had an opportunity to show what I can do. If we have a training camp, we can show what we can do. Hope everything works out.”

- Clark said GM Mitch Kupchak was proud of him for constantly working hard – early in the morning and late in the evening – even before he became part of the regular rotation. His expanded role when guys were out was difficult, mainly adjusting to playing nearly 30 minutes per contest. But when Pau Gasol returned, it was hard for coach Mike D’Antoni to manage minutes.

- Clark, a teammate of Dwight Howard in Orlando, believes staying in L.A. will be “great for his career.” Early on, Clark felt Howard felt the pressure of losing and playing for an organization not accustomed to it. “This summer, he’ll work on his game and continue to get better. He’ll answer the challenge.”

- His goal for the offseason is to get stronger, so he can guard bigger post players like Zach Randolph and Tim Duncan. He admitted he’s more comfortable playing on the perimeter, but wants to expand his game.

Watch every exit interview on our Exit Interview Central

Steve Nash: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_NashSteve Nash appeared and started in 50 games in 2012-13, missing 24 games due to a lower leg fracture and the last eight of the regular season because of hamstring/hip/back issues. Nash averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 assists, and narrowly missed his fifth 50/40/90 season (49.7 percent field goals, 43.8 percent on three-pointers, 92.2 percent free throws).

Nash played the first two postseason games, averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 assists in 30 minutes per contest, before missing the final two with the same back/hip/hamstring issues that kept him out at the end of the regular season.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- Nash opened by expressing his disappointment with the tough season: “It’s definitely been the most frustrating year of my career.” Obviously the injuries were difficult, let alone the failure to meet expectations. Regardless of the reasons why – and there were plenty – that’s going to result in disappointment.

- On recovering from his injuries this offseason, starting with the nerve issues he’s battled in his back/hip/hamstring: “I always work hard. I’m definitely going to prepare better than I ever have to make next year (different). (I have) no concerns. No word (from the) medical staff for long-term issues or next season being in jeopardy. There’s still a lot of work to do to get right.” Nash is hoping that he’ll be back to 100 percent in the next month or so.

- Nash on Dwight Howard, who is an unrestricted free agent: “I’m very hopeful that Dwight will be back. I think this is the place for him. I’m hopeful he sees it that way.”

- On playing for the Los Angeles Lakers: “It was an amazing experience for me to play for this franchise … that’s the one thing that burns me so much right now. I wanted to have a huge impact on the team and really make this an incredible year, and experience for the fans, the players and everyone involved … I just hope next year we can repay everyone for their loyalty and enthusiasm.”

- On how a coaching change, injuries derailed things: “It feels like we never even got started … we kept fighting, and played really good basketball for the last couple of months.”

- Nash isn’t sure what the roster will look like next season, saying changes are inevitable in the NBA, but he likes a lot of what is in place if healthy: “I think the core pieces with the disappointment of this season could (help us) form something special. It’s not a perfect fit, but we have great players that can find a way to make this work.” L.A. almost never had a healthy, cohesive team throughout the season.

- Nash downplayed chemistry issues with the team that may have plagued the roster early in the season. He said that losing brings out a certain degree of difficulty for any team, but that the Lakers definitely figured things out as the season wore on. “In the big picture I think relationships were formed and kept … I think it’s the only reason we didn’t (putter out).” The team played good basketball in the final three months of the season even while beat up.

- Nash discussed the difficulty of having established veterans who have all played different styles in the past, and how difficult that can be for a head coach: “We have a lot of guys who have had great careers, great success that have done it in their way. But when you come together you can’t do it in four or five different ways. I think that was really difficult for everyone, for the players, and particularly for the coach. We can make a long list of what (coach) Mike (D’Antoni) faced this year: coming in late, the craziest injury situation I’ve ever seen, guys playing when they’re not themselves. It’s hard to find an identity when guys aren’t what they’re going to be in a week, or out of the line up in a week. I thought he handled it well. He competed, he worked every day, he was passionate about it.”

- What’s most important for Nash moving forward for next season? “For me, I just want to get in great shape … so that nothing is holding me back for next season. For the team, we’ll see.” Nash went on to explain that further, but basically, it’s tough to really plan too much until we see who is on the roster for next season.

Nash on Jason Collins: “I think it’s great that Jason is strong enough to come out. I think he’s going to make a huge impact on a lot of people, most importantly on a lot of young people … I’ve thought for a while now that it’s not going to be a big issue. I don’t think it’s fair for Jason to think it’s going to be a walk in the park, but at the same time, this is a really important issue and time that somebody has finally taken a leadership role in this respect.”

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Metta World Peace: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_MWPMetta World Peace started 66 games and appeared in 75, averaging 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals on 40.2 percent shooting (34.2 percent on three-pointers). He tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee late in the year and had to undergo surgery, forcing him to miss just six contests.

World Peace played in three of the four postseason games, missing the second half of Game 3 and all of Game 4 as his knee simply was not healthy enough to play through. He averaged 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds, shooting just 25 percent from the floor while dealing with the knee.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- World Peace, who has a player option for next season, declined to state whether he will pick it up or not. He said he didn’t discuss that specifically with GM Mitch Kupchak in his meeting. His basic message was this: “For me, it’s all about coming back next year and winning.” MWP often will stick to a single thought as such, trying to focus on one thing. He believes the team had enough talent when healthy to compete, despite the collective age of the players.

- MWP said the Lakers didn’t always “let” Mike D’Antoni (or Mike Brown) coach. It’s a very interesting group of players, some with tons of experience and ideas on how to play, who had seen a number of systems in the last three seasons alone. D’Antoni clearly didn’t have a chance to coach as he’d wanted to, but Metta appreciated that he adapted and found a way to get the team on a winning track before the late-season injuries.

- On the absence of training camp for a coach: “We were behind the eight ball so much that we didn’t get to see the whole team and who improved their game, and how we’re going to play.” That was certainly tough for the coaches and players, no doubt.

- One of Dwight Howard’s biggest supporters this season, Metta had this to say: “Dwight gave 100 percent. He played hard. His personality was just different. You have to get used to a franchise player like that.” He tried to explain what he meant, that Howard is almost always “happy” around the team, except at certain points of games where he gets “very serious.” No question Howard is a different from a personality standpoint from the other veterans on the team like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, and it certainly took some adjusting to for everyone – as it should have. They’d begun to figure things out, rallying through the injuries before Bryant’s torn Achilles to reach the playoffs despite being 17-25 in January.

- MWP on his knee: “It was supposed to take six weeks to heal. Was in a situation where I didn’t want to miss the playoffs.” The reason he was able to return so quickly from March 28 surgery was that the doctor removed the torn part of his meniscus instead of repairing it, thus eliminating the swelling. However, he developed a cyst upon returning the floor, severely limiting his movement. Now, MWP has his six weeks to heal, and does not need further surgery. He expects to be healthy coming into training camp next season.

- World Peace – like Chris Duhon before him – was supportive of Jason Collins coming out earlier on Monday morning, saying that people must be free to be who they are. World Peace has been a supporter for people feeling OK to say they’re struggling with mental health issues, so he appreciates what it takes to stand up to public scrutiny.

Watch every exit interview on our Exit Interview Central

Chris Duhon: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_DuhonChris Duhon started nine games and appeared in 46 towards averages of 2.9 points and 2.9 assists on 36.3 percent on three-pointers in the regular season.

With regular point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake out injured, Duhon played the entire second half in L.A.’s Game 4 season-ending loss (43 minutes total), scoring 11 points and dishing out a team-high seven assists.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

Duhon: “This is probably the craziest year I’ve been apart of. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, with the talent, the expectations we had. We definitely had a team that was capable of winning a championship, we just never had a chance to put it together. It’s tough, and it’s kind of disappointing – coming into training camp, we felt that. We felt like we had an opportunity, and it just never came together.”

- Why wasn’t the team’s identity established? “Injuries … two coaches in one season … no training camp (with the coach) … injuries … injuries again.”

- Duhon said that Mike D’Antoni never really had a chance to put in his system, lacking the chance for an offseason to establish the principles, let alone a training camp. He played for D’Antoni in New York, and spent a whole offseason learning that system. He added that the team spent the entire training camp trying to learn the Princeton offense, then didn’t run anything for four games under Bernie Bickerstaff, then just didn’t have a real chance to get what D’Antoni wanted to do since they already had the pressure of winning games. That made it very difficult.

- On what he’ll take away from playing with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol: “They love this game. They do whatever it takes for them to be great. Kobe watches film at halftime, of his shots, turnovers, defensive plays and things he can do better in the second half. Steve Nash is consistently in the weight room trying to get his body right, first one here, last one to leave. It’s amazing how you see these guys come to work every day. That’s why they’re the best. Kobe’s going to be one of the best players ever. Nash is going to be one of the best point guards, and (that is for) a reason.”

Watch every exit interview on our Exit Interview Central

Mitch Kupchak: 2012 Exit Interview

A summary of Mitch Kupchak’s 2012 Exit Interview:

- On the uncertainty on the team with the preseason trade not going through: “I’m not going to look at what could have been and why we got beat in Game 5 of the second round. Certainly, that period of time resulted in one of our players, the Sixth Man of the Year (Lamar Odom), being moved and (Pau Gasol)) had to deal with the uncertainty around being traded. That’s not how you want to open the season.”

- Kupchak on how well Gasol handed everything: “I thought he did the best anyone can do being professional, having a really good season. He’s the consummate teammate, consummate professional, but what took place is hard for a player to deal with. I’m sure there’s a little bit of trust that’s not quite the same. But he understands … our exit meeting was really good. I think he and I are on the same page.” Kupchak said that he didn’t think all the trade rumors affected Gasol’s play at the end of the day, just maybe his trust in the situation, which is to be expected.

- Kupchak said that the Lakers plan to pick up Andrew Bynum’s option for next season.

- On the season not going as he would have liked: “We’re disappointed. We don’t grade ourselves on getting into the second round. We thought going into the season that we were one of three or four or five teams that could contend for a championship. It’s hard to get in that position with 30 owners that are very competitive, having to operate under (now different) rules. We felt we had a shot at it, so to watch the conference semifinals was a disappointing feeling.”

- On how the team was run between him and ownership this season: “There has been no difference.” Kupchak was speaking about the past four or five seasons, really going back to 2007, when Jim Buss increased his role. Kupchak had previously spoken more directly to Dr. Jerry Buss on the ownership side.

- On if he’ll look to improve the team through trades or signings: “When you lose before you think you should have lost, you have to open up all opportunities.”

- Kupchak said he has always had a pretty good relationship with Kobe Bryant, who praised him greatly after the Game 5 loss at Oklahoma City, and while he said it’s comforting to hear Bryant’s confidence in him, the expectation to win is strong from him to ownership, who combine to make decisions.

- Kupchak said that the team addressed a need in a young, athletic point guard with the trade for Ramon Sessions, but “He has the ability to opt out so we don’t know where that’s going to lead us.” Kupchak had a long talk with Sessions, who’d never played in a playoff game before this postseason, and said Sessions would admit “it was a little overwhelming at first.” Kupchak sensed that he wasn’t as confident and aggressive as he was in the regular season. And then the pressure ramped up further in the second round against an OKC team with nine days to prepare for the Lakers, and it took Sessions a while to adjust.

- Kupchak played in the Olympics himself, and while he may recognize that more games on Kobe’s body could be problematic for the Lakers perspective, he’d never tell someone not to represent their country, as Kobe will in the 2012 summer games.

- On Andrew Bynum having a few issues throughout the season: “He’s a good kid, a bright kid, and I’m hopeful going forward the things that we’re disappointed with are not as disappointing in the future.”

- Kupchak said Mike Brown did a “fine job” considering all that occurred throughout the season.

- On the talent on the team being enough to win: “In short, if we were just able to bring the players back next year and have a full training camp, we’d be one of those five or six teams with a chance to (win a championship). I can’t tell you if that’s going to happen. It’s not like we don’t have a group that’s talented, and that’s all you can really hope for.”

Matt Barnes: 2012 Exit Interview

Matt Barnes started 16 games and appeared in 63 towards averages of 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 45.2 percent shooting (33.3 percent from three) in the regular season.

Barnes had an excellent rhythm going after the All-Star break, but rolled his ankle in the second-to-last regular season games and was unable to garner consistent playing time upon returning in the playoffs, averaging only 16.8 per game towards 3.5 points and 3.3 boards.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- The main frustration for Barnes, not just this season but last, was having injuries derail strong rhythm he’d found heading into the postseason. Barnes not only had an ankle sprain that didn’t fully heal, but a messed up neck (his sons jumped on him before the first playoff game, he said) that required shots just for him to be able to move it. It’s something that can happen to any player in any sport, but is especially tough for a guy who came to the Lakers for almost the sole purpose of being a difference maker when it counted. When he was right physically, Barnes was a solid bench producer in his two seasons in Los Angeles, contributing on the glass, on D and in transition but also with his general activity and toughness.

- Barnes wouldn’t have traded his experience in Los Angeles despite taking less money to come in the first place and not reaching his championship goal. He really valued his time, but as a free agent, doesn’t know what will happen next season.

- Barnes did not play in the final game against Oklahoma City after struggling to find his game in limited minutes coming off the injuries, and while he said he’d have liked to have played more, understood that the coaching staff had to make the decisions it thought best to produce a win. He was always a good teammate, encouraging others, trying to offer advice and refusing to sulk. A loyal guy, Barnes was very well liked by his teammates.

- Barnes with a quick summary of it being tough learning a new system from a new coaching staff: “It was an old system meeting a completely new system.”

- On if the Lakers could have won, and why they didn’t: “Yes. I just didn’t feel we really hit our stride. I think at times we showed flashes of how dominant we could be, but we really didn’t reel off six, seven, eight or nine consistent, convincing wins that you kind of need to to really feel good about yourself. Any time you have a big three like we have, you’re always going to have a chance, but it takes more than three guys to win and there wasn’t really that consistency.

Mike Brown: 2012 Exit Interview

It’s the job of any NBA head coach to speak with the media before and after every game, and following every practice throughout the season; the last time Mike Brown sat down in front of the horde comes on exit interview day.

Below is a summary of Brown’s last interview of the 2011-12 campaign, going over his first season as the coach of the Lakers:

- To open: “Sitting here at this point in the year is definitely not satisfying. Under the circumstances, I feel like we got a lot accomplished and feel we learned a lot … but we can be better.”

- Brown acknowledged the difficulty of fighting uphill, trying to get a system installed and the players incorporated into it, with the limited training camp and practices, but didn’t want to use it as an excuse.

- On Pau Gasol trying to adjust to a new role: “With Andrew (Bynum) having a bigger role within what we do especially offensively, it made it a little tougher for Pau. With Andrew on one block and Kobe (Bryant) on the other, and Metta (World Peace), it was (tough to get opportunities at times). But i thought he adjusted really well.” Brown discussed Gasol’s ability to shoot the mid range shot, and pass from that position, which many 7-footers simply couldn’t do.

- Brown on Bynum: “I think he can be a cornerstone to an organization. But you have to remember that Andrew is still learning what he’s (eventually) going to be. He didn’t play near the minutes (as he did in 2011-12). He needs time and the commitment to want to get better every time he steps onto the floor … the sky is the limit on how good he wants to be.” Brown said that Bynum fluctuated on how he handled his much-increased role: “At times he handled it really well, at times he could have handled it better.”

- On the current roster: “I like the core of this team … we have some good guys on this team that can help us win.” He implied that with a full training camp and practices in a regular season, maybe things would be different, citing how San Antonio and Oklahoma City have the type of continuity that “makes a world of difference” with talent and a good staff. Brown’s basic point is that L.A. may already have enough to win the whole thing, but the compressed season did make that more difficult. The margin for error obviously wasn’t too big, with L.A. beating OKC once and holding a 7-point lead with two minutes to play in one road game and a 9-point lead with six minutes to left in the Game 4 home contest.

- On if players watch Kobe too much: “That’s something at times over the year we addressed. We play with a lot of motion on offense with reads, but (many guys) would get locked in on Kobe” and not see guys open on the weak side of the floor.” It’s a bit of a chicken/egg argument, but may always been an issue with someone who plays as aggressively as Bryant.

- On his own coaching performance: “I feel like I could have done a lot better. I’m not using it as an excuse, but I tell you, it was tough that you didn’t get to practice the way that you (wanted to). I know there were a lot of things I felt rushed on that I did on the fly based on the lack of time. So to really give myself a true evaluation would be hard. I thought based on the circumstances, with a staff, we did fairly well, but we could have done a lot better.”

Andrew Goudelock: 2012 Exit Interview

Rookie second round pick Andrew Goudelock appeared in 40 regular season games for L.A., showing an ability to score from long range (37 percent three-pointers) and with his patented floater towards 4.4 points per game in 10.5 minutes. He played a total of 10 postseason minutes.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On his meeting with Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown: “Some of the things they told me they wanted me to work on were things I wanted to work on myself: ball handling, being more comfortable running the point guard position, working on my body a little bit conditioning, defense … things I thought my weaknesses were.”

- Goudelock acknowledged that his physical size is more like a point guard, but he’s always been a shooting guard. In the future, I wants to be a point guard that can score, hoping to build those PG skills so that he can increase his chances of getting on the floor. He was initially proud and excited to just make the team, never a guarantee for a second round pick especially from a small college, but now really believes he can be more in the NBA.

- On his offensive game: “Offensively, I can shoot the three, I can make a mid range shot, I can shoot the floater. My scoring is not the problem.” That’s why he wants to improve his point guard skills, but his ability to shoot the ball is not something to scoff at; teams always can use a shooter.

- On watching L.A.’s veterans: “I learned so much this season, how much I see guys work, and that all motivates me to get better.” He felt like he learned years worth of basketball knowledge in one season, from Kobe Bryant on down the line. That of course included lots of on-the-court stuff, but also had to do with off-the-court situations, like the ridiculous shape Metta World Peace keeps his body in. That includes “eating all kinds of weird stuff.”