Archive for the 'Exit Interviews' Category

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Steve Blake: 2012 Exit Interview

Steve Blake played in 53 regular season games, missing 13 due to a January rib injury, towards averages of 5.2 points on 37.7 percent field goals and 33.5 percent three-pointers with 3.3 assists in 23.3 minutes per contest.

He stepped up his play in the postseason, regularly closing games for the Lakers while playing 25.5 minutes per game for 6.3 points, 2.3 assists and 2.2 boards on 41.9 percent shooting and 41.9 percent from three.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On not having a full camp or practice time hurt the team: “More time definitely would have helped us out, maybe (allowed us to) figure out certain areas of the game to make us better. But you can’t blame (our not winning) on that. I do think having a longer camp next year, us being with this coaching staff and getting more comfortable with them, always will help you.”

- On growing with his teammates to the point where he was finishing games in the postseason: “Over time you get more comfortable with your teammates, you figure each other out, and for me I as definitely much more comfortable throughout the season and the playoffs. I really loved playing with everybody and enjoyed it, and look forward to coming back and doing it again.”

- Blake was asked about his general outlook after playing better individually, but turned it into a team answer: “It’s tough to be too positive, because we lost.”

- On if he wants to start: “I’m at the point of my career where I really just want to do what’s best for the team” … whether that’s starting or coming off the bench.” He said the focus is on “us,” not him.

- Blake said he didn’t let praise or criticism affect him during the season, especially in the playoffs, in which he hit one game-winning shot and missed a potential game winner in another game, getting praise and vitriol in equal parts.

- Blake said he’ll likely be in L.A. until late June, then go back home to Portland, take a few weeks off and get back to work “getting better in every area of the game.”

- Blake’s frustrated having not won the title when expecting to by coming to Los Angeles, having won in both high school and college, but doesn’t think that chance is over.

- On his exit meeting: Mike Brown and Mitch Kupchak were mostly positive in their meeting, Blake said. He said they wanted him to perhaps be more aggressive and more selfish at times, but that doesn’t flow with the natural way he wants to play so much. “I think I’ll always try to make the team better with passing and knowing the game.”

Pau Gasol: 2012 Exit Interview

Regarded by any NBA coach or GM you ask as one of the league’s very few best all-around big men, Pau Gasol accepted more of a facilitating role in 2011-12 as the Lakers tried to utilize Andrew Bynum’s low post dominance, and Kobe Bryant’s need for the ball in post up and isolation sets. Gasol posted averages of 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists with 1.35 blocks in playing all but the final regular season game (rest).

In the postseason, Gasol was even less involved offensively with Bryant taking 301 shots to his 143, as the Spaniard averaged 12.5 points, 9.5 boards, 3.7 assists and 2.1 blocks, trying to contribute in multiple ways.

Below is a summary of Gasol’s exit interview:

- On his meeting with Kupchak and Brown being more about the past season than the future: “I wish I could have clarification (about his future with the team) but they can’t give it to me right now. I think management still has to talk to ownership to see what direction this team will be going next year. We really didn’t talk much about the future. We talked about this year, how things have gone. Everything was really positive and encouraging for potential next season.”

- On the season: “We all worked hard and we all gave it our best shot from the coaching staff, management and players. We all tried hard to make it a successful year, make the best out of it. I’m proud of my part, as much as has gone on, I tried my best to give my best and adjust to a different role and position within the team. I still tried to deliver as much as I could.”

- On if there’s a contradiction between him being asked both to step back as the facilitator and third option on offense, but also asked at times to be more aggressive: “It’s a little difficult. I’ve always been a good passer and I facilitated from the most part from the post, which I’m very good at. It has been an adjustment for me, it has been difficult to be pretty much a third option, because I’ve never experienced that in my career since I was very young. I still gave it my best, but that was challenging at times.” When he’s featured more, it makes it easier to be more aggressive, which is natural for any player. He wasn’t getting the same looks he’d been getting, wasn’t used to attacking from the places on the court he was getting the ball more often, but stopped himself from continuing to explain because he didn’t want to make excuses.

- Gasol thanked Mike Brown for his dedication and hard work, and appreciated that he was a “caring coach.” Gasol reiterated that he was pleased that everyone tried his best despite the season being a tricky one in which to figure everything out. He also told Brown that it was hard for him at times. “I never had to search for offense or looks on the teams I’ve been on. I always had them because of what I bring to the table. To have to go and search for it, I struggled at times.” With that said, Gasol said he understood how much Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant needed the ball, and spent a lot of time trying to figure that out. That wasn’t so much the case last season, when Lamar Odom played 30 minutes a game and often facilitated for Gasol.

- Gasol acknowledged the difficulty of being involved in constant trade rumors, but said that’s not something that should affect someone’s play ultimately. He gets how the business works, and why his value makes other teams interested.

- On if the Lakers asserted their low post dominance enough: “We did it at times, but not consistently (enough). But two players at the caliber of Andrew and myself in there, you have to assert yourself and as a team. Teams did a good job of (focusing on that) in the playoffs, and we didn’t do a good enough job of (moving the ball) and (approaching it) from the weak side.

- On where LAL need to go: “This year was useful as a growing process for us, learning together with a new coaching staff. We had to find and search for consistency; we had too many games where we weren’t consistent, where we let a lot of leads get away from us, where we lost some games we shouldn’t have lost. That also happened in the postseason.”

- On late game scenarios with Kobe: “We went to a lot of isolation stuff with Kobe (late in games). We hadn’t really worked on the pick and roll as much until the very end. We probably didn’t develop that kind of game enough throughout the year for it to be smoother in the postseason. A lot of the times, (I would be) waiting and spectating on the weak side.”

- Gasol confirmed that he will indeed captain his Spanish National team in the 2012 London Olympics, and would obviously love another shot at the gold medal, perhaps against Kobe and Team USA.

Darius Morris: 2012 Exit Interview

Darius Morris completed his rookie campaign having appeared in 19 games, averaging 2.4 points and 1.1 assists in 8.9 minutes per game as a 21-year-old.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On his meeting with Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown: “We talked about how much they thought I improved over the season in terms of my game, physically and mentally. It was very encouraging. My mindset, maturity definitely changed over the course of the year. In terms of on the court, just an adjustment to the NBA game.”

- Morris described how crazy and at times difficult it was to go through the lockout as a rookie, being unable to communicate with the team after getting drafted, then having such a short training camp, trade rumors at his position and so on. Then he went from being inactive to suddenly active once Steve Blake got injured in January, and back to the bench with Blake’s return after 13 games. Morris felt like he grew a lot mentally from going through the wild season.

- On Summer League in Vegas: “I think Summer League will be big for me. I think certain teams like me in the draft, but I’ve gotten way better since then. It’ll be a good experience for me, a good opportunity.” He’s right. He’ll get a chance to show how much he improved over the season and what he added to his game. Morris came out early from the University of Michigan, leaving after his sophomore season, and thus is one of the NBA’s youngest players at 21. As such, “potential” is still a word associated with him, but he will be able to showcase his skills against the other young players around the league for two weeks in Vegas.

- While discussing his future, Morris mentioned the importance of being with a team where you think you can play. Of course he loves it in L.A., where he grew up, but seems open to pursuing the best situation for him.

- Morris said that Mike Brown informed him that it’s “not impossible” for him to get playing time next season. “It’s basically up to me to come in ready,” he said. One thing he’s focused on is being able to play both guard positions, as Steve Blake often did in the playoffs. The first step, however, is Summer League.

- On what he wants to work on: “Being on the bench and watching a lot of top point guards, you learn a lot of little tricks. I want to work on those things … watch a lot of film and study a lot of people’s games. A lot of people are gifted and talent so watching film of everybody will help me, especially the point guards.”

- Morris on Kobe Bryant: “I picked up a lot, more because of the friendship we developed. I didn’t expect us to be as close as we got, but it happened, and just seeing him at practice I really observed him a lot. You can’t take it for granted you’re going to always play with one of the best people to ever play the game. His preparation, his focus, the way he goes about his business. Off the court we became good friends and he continues to teach me a lot of stuff.” Kobe was the biggest role model for Morris throughout the season, though he also mentioned Metta World Peace, and how great a teammate he is, how willing he is to help everybody regardless of status on the team. World Peace constantly encouraged his teammates, and tried to keep the team together whenever arguments would rise, something Lamar Odom used to do.

-On the Lakers culture: “It was a great place for me to get introduced to the league, because of the winning basketball. (You learn) just (how to) value a possession. Elsewhere, they probably are not worried about playing playoff basketball, which is different. A shot you might take in the regular season, you might not take in the playoffs. I heard a lot of (our) veterans talking about that. With tempo, defense, you have to start stepping (it all) up. There were definitely a lot of things I learned just being on a championship caliber team.”

On having his fellow second round pick rookie Andrew Goudelock with him: “It made it a lot easier, you didn’t feel like you were alone. It was good to have someone there to be encouraging, and likewise for him. Just for us to go through that whole phase together was awesome.” The two rookies played a ton of 1-on-1 and shooting games, with Goudelock taking the shooting contests (though Morris said it got closer later in the season) and Morris winning more 1-on-1 action.

Josh McRoberts: 2012 Exit Interview

Josh McRoberts appeared in 50 regular season games, starting six, and did a lot of the team’s dirty work while averaging 2.4 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor. He played a total of 16 minutes in the postseason.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On his meeting with Mitch Kupchak & Mike Brown: “It was pretty quick; we didn’t talk too much, just talked about things to work on throughout the summer and looked forward to next year. I think my biggest thing is to continue to work on shooting the ball. That’s my biggest thing.

- With Andrew Bynum suspended for the season’s first four games, McRoberts started and played well. As he recalls: “It was a lot of fun, a new experience coming here and getting an opportunity to play right away. It was kind of a whirlwind.” Unfortunately, McRoberts sprained his big toe (which is worse than it sounds, as it basically keeps players from being able to run and jump close to full speed), and by the time he got better had fallen out of those regular rotation minutes.

- It was a tricky season for new players like McRoberts, signed just before the super-shortened training camp, to find a way to fit in and establish oneself especially in a front court where playing time was dominated by Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum: “Finding a comfort level this year was a little bit tough on everybody with a shortened season and no practice, especially for a guy in my position coming into a new place where you don’t really have time to prove yourself in training camp. Not to make any excuses, but that’s different from what we’re used to … it’s a challenge. You want to be out there, you want to play.” A really good teammate liked by everybody, McRoberts credited the guys that got and earned the playing time even as he coveted it like every player does.

- McRoberts said he felt the locker room was very confident that “we could continue winning” and meet the goals they had coming into the season. Of course, it didn’t play out as any of the players expected, and thus the disappointment both as a team and individually, not getting to contribute what he had hoped he would.

- On if he could have helped the team with his athleticism: “I would have loved to be out there. I would have done everything I could to try and help.”

- McRoberts is eager to prove himself next season after essentially falling out of the rotation as Jordan Hill emerged in the second-to-last regular season game. McRoberts acknowledged that Hill played well in the time he had, and Mike Brown thus stuck with the rotation. But he’s confident that he’ll prepare himself the right way in the offseason and have a chance to show what he can do starting in training camp for the 2012-13 season.

Andrew Bynum: 2012 Exit Interview

In Andrew Bynum’s best season of his young career, the 24-year-old posted impressive numbers in his first All-Star campaign: 18.7 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting wtih 11.8 rebounds and 1.93 blocks. He missed only one game due to injury and looked strong physically throughout the campaign.

In the postseason, Bynum dealt with constant double teams to average 16.7 points on 47.7 percent field goals with 11.1 boards and 3.08 blocks per evening.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- The Lakers have an option year on Andrew Bynum’s contract, but have not yet said anything official. Here’s a collection of Bynum’s responses to whether or not he’ll be a Laker into next year and the future:”I don’t expect to hear my name as a possible trade, but I think anything could happen. My job is to play basketball. I love it, so it could take place anywhere. Obviously I want to be a Laker, but (who knows what will happen) … I don’t want to go anywhere … hopefully if I keep elevating my play, I won’t have to.”

- Bynum was asked several questions about his personality, and how he’ll always say what is on his mind. At times, that got him “in the news” this season, but he maintained that he’s going to simply say what’s on his mind and be honest, and not worry about how it’s interpreted as it’s out of his control. “I like telling the truth, what’s on my mind and how I feel … people will read three to four words and take what they want from there. My statements are a bit long-winded at times, and the whole statement should be heard … I don’t plan on monitoring my comments … I don’t really care if you guys criticize me. I have to go play regardless of what you guys write or do.” Have to respect his honesty; many athletes, and people in general, don’t say what’s on their mind and stand by it. He’s not malevolent in any way about this, he just is going to say what he thinks.

- On taking his game to the next level: Bynum recognizes that what makes someone a superstar is being able to bring it every night, not just most. He acknowledged that despite a solid all-around season, there were spots in which he didn’t bring his best effort, and that’s what’s most difficult. He understands that to be a super star, there can’t be off nights. “It’s hard for anyone to focus at all times; that’s what makes people get to that superstar status, when they’re able to do that four out of five games. That’s the next level for me.”

- On the major importance of his health: “I stayed healthy, which was a big thing. While the shortened season was a lot harder on the body and not having time to recover, it also kind of keeps you in rhythm.” This was the first season in four that Bynum came into fully healthy, and then went on to maintain his health throughout. “My body feels great,” he continued. “I have a solid plan that’s been working for me. In July and August, I’ll be in Atlanta, training. It’s great because I get to add to my game. I don’t have to worry about surgeries, talking time to rebuild myself. It’s definitely a different feel (from the past).

- Furthermore, Bynum is “most definitely” considering the treatment that Kobe received in Germany, not because he’s hurt – he’s not – but because it can generally improve things: “Nothing feels wrong … it’s supposed to regenerate tissue and stuff like that.”

- Bynum acknowledged that things got more difficult in the playoffs as he was literally double- and triple-teamed throughout the playoffs by Denver and Oklahoma City as soon as he caught a pass. “I guess it’s a sign of respect.” Bynum said he’d take that into account in the offseason as he works on his game, and plans to come back with a 15-18 foot jump shot, in addition to a turnaround jumper so that he shoot away from the double (sort of like Kobe does so well). With his soft touch, he’s certainly capable of doing so, and if you watch him shoot in practice, he routinely drills that shot.

- Bynum loves Pau Gasol. “We’ve grown a lot on and off the court … when we both come and play strong it’s tough on the other team.” Gasol really helped Bynum grow this season, taking on a facilitating role and posting up far less often in order to get Bynum increased touches and put him in better positions. Bynum certainly appreciates that.

- Bynum said his relationship with Mike Brown grew “a lot” over the season, as Brown had an open door policy and Bynum could express himself when he wanted to. That was different from Bynum’s relationship with Phil Jackson, which he implied was less open.

- Like the rest of his teammates, Bynum laments the two games he felt the Lakers “gave away” to Oklahoma City. Without discrediting how hard the Thunder worked to win Games 2 and 4, it simply feels like a huge missed opportunity for Bynum. “This group definitely can win … this team is capable.”

- Bynum on his relationship with Kobe: “Not much more (developed) than it has in the past. We were cool on and off the court; he always tries to motivate me and show me little things whether it’s watching tape or taking care of your body.” Bynum said both making the All-Star team was good for them, but Kobe’s always trying to give him confidence and motivation.

- Bynum said that at times he was great, at times poor in the season, but overall felt it was very successful (which it was, just look at his numbers and how many games he dominated despite a few down spells). He went on: “It sucks to have ended in this fashion, but there’s room to grow and now I’m focusing on that. Bynum said he can see himself transitioning into a superstar, with bringing his A game consistently being the major factor.

- Bynum reflected back to the Dallas series in the 2011 playoffs, relaying that it taught him that you can’t underestimate your opponent. He cited Dirk Nowitzki’s ridiculous performance (“He was phenominal”) but implied he and the Lakers didn’t approach that series the right way (or maybe they were just exhausted after three straight trips to the Finals). The series vs. OKC, on the other hand: “We shot ourselves in the foot. We played well enough to win in a lot of those games; to come out with that result is tough, but all you can learn from it is to always be in the moment and staying focused on the next play.”

- Bynum acknowledged that he has lots of grey hair as a 24-year-old, smiling as he explained it was better to have hair than not. Both of his parents are all grey, apparently.

- In conclusion, Bynum said his No. 1 priority would be to stay in Los Angeles. He’d much prefer being a Laker than shaking up his life by being traded to another team.

Devin Ebanks: 2012 Exit Interview

Devin Ebanks started 12 games for the Lakers in 2011-12, including seven for Kobe Bryant when No. 24 went down with his shin injury, and played in a backup capacity in 12 other contest to average 4.0 points, and 2.3 rebounds per game.

He started six of the team’s seven first round playoff games with Metta World Peace serving a suspension, and averaged 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in his 14 minutes per game.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

On his meeting with Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown: “They had a lot of good things to say. They liked the way I played to start the season, and when I was thrown back out there. I got a lot of encouraging things (said) up there and it’s going to motivate me to work harder and come back ready for next season.”

On if he thinks he’ll be a Laker next season: “That’s something we still have to work out, me and my agent have to speak about it with Mitch, but I’d definitely love to stay here in L.A. and continue my career here.” Ebanks said it’ll be a process for each side to figure it all out, as he’ll both listen to the Lakers and also see if other teams are interested. Ebanks said he felt that the Lakers were “pretty interested” in him.

On getting some more opportunity this season: “This was my first year getting time on the court, so there were a lot of things I learned out there and a lot of things I improved upon. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready, and if my number is called, (I was) ready to perform.”

- Ebanks saw time at both the 2 and the 3 this season filling in for injured/suspended Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace, but he could also play some stretch 4 in the future depending on how his game develops. If he develops some additional strength, he does have the length to have success at that position. “I believe so … that’s going to come with me working on my body and being able to bang and stretch out as well, it’s just one of the facets of my game I need to work on this summer.”

- Ebanks will spend most of his offseason working out at the team’s facility, he said, though that might depend on what happens in his conversations with Kupchak.

Jordan Hill: 2012 Exit Interview

Jordan Hill, acquired at the trade deadline from Houston in the Derek Fisher deal, played in only seven regular season games for the Lakers while battling a sprained knee, but came on so strong against Oklahoma City in the second-to-last contest that he earned a spot as the third big in Mike Brown’s rotation behind Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

In the playoffs, Hill averaged 4.8 points and 6.3 rebounds (third on the team) in 18.1 minutes per game.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

On what Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown had to say about the free-agent-to-be big man: “My productivity and how I changed the game when I’m in the game. Good things. They just want me to continue to do what I’m doing … obviously I’m a free agent right now, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I just have to keep working.”

On if he’d like to come back? “Yeah, I mean it’s one of if not the best organizations in the league and I had a great time in the short time I was here. The staff, the players, everybody … I enjoyed it.” Hill said the Lakers were definitely a good fit for him, but implied that what he’s especially good at – like rebounding – can be used on any team.

- When asked about Mike Brown, Hill said it was clear that the coach “Just wanted to win.” He also recalled the time that Brown called him at 2 a.m. after the team was blown out in San Antonio on April 20: “I was definitely surprised. We talked a little bit, and he said we need more rebounding and energy, and I just stayed ready. The next game against Oklahoma City I just did what I had to do, and kept going with it.” Hill grabbed 15 rebounds with his 14 points in that double OT Lakers victory, delivering what Brown asked for and more.

- On playing with Bynum and Gasol: “They’re definitely hard workers, man. Like me they want to win and get better. Definitely two great All-Stars, it was a blast playing along with them. That’s why I definitely didn’t try to concentrate on scoring, because that’s what they do, so I tried to get an offensive rebound and pass out so they’d get a chance to score. I love offensive rebounding, that’s one way to get my points. But I just want to do things to help my team win, work hard on the floor and hopefully get a championship one day.”

On playing with Kobe: “I never thought that would happen to me, playing alongside one of the greatest. People would think he’d be a different guy because of who he is, but Kobe’s just like one of us. Have fun, smile, laugh, jokes – it was crazy seeing all that. But when it’s time for the game, that’s what he’s about.”

- Hill let out a deep sigh when thinking about all the struggles he’s been through in his life, overcoming the odds by making NBA roster. “I just have to keep my head up high.” Hill’s done a lot of moving, has had to learn a lot of systems, but he understand that things happen in the business. He wants to “find a home.”

Ramon Sessions: 2012 Exit Interview

Ramon Sessions had immediate success upon being acquired by the Lakers at the trade deadline, averaging 12.7 points on 47.9 percent shooting and 48.6 percent from three plus 6.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.

His production tailed off in the postseason, when in 12 games he averaged 9.7 points, 3.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds while struggling from the field, shooting 37.7 percent from the floor and just 16.0 percent (4 of 25) from three as the offense ran much more through Kobe Bryant.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- Sessions described how it was a dream come true for him to be put in this situation, that he learned a lot from his first playoff experience and first time on a team with a winning record, which he called a “dream come true.” Of course, he was disappointed that it ended when it did, calling it “too soon.” There’s an unfulfilled feeling there, but Sessions was generally thrilled to have the chance to be a Laker.

- Next season? Sessions has a player option for next season that he’ll need to decide whether to pick up by June 20: “Definitely hope to be here. Hopefully everything works out … we’ll just see what happens. I haven’t thought about it yet, the season just got over. I’ll take some time to reflect.” Sessions denied reports about him either picking up or waiving his player option year, and said he simply had yet to make a decision.

- On what will go into his decision: “Tomorrow is not promised. It’s not something I’m weighing everything on, because I was fortunate to get one deal, and financially is not an issue, so I’m definitely going to look at how can I become a complete player, one of the top guards in the league, the best situation, the best winning experience. I just want to win, there’s no secret about it.”

- On if the Lakers is the right fit for him: “I think so. With my game maturing more, with me being able to knock down that (jump) shot. I know I can make it work … in my career I always played with the ball in my hand, but this summer I’ll work at playing off the ball more and making that better.”

- He plans on working on every aspect of his game in the offseason, including spot-up shooting, ball-handling and the like, but more specifically on the types of shots he knows he’d get playing with the Lakers. Sessions thinks that he can fit in with L.A. however they’re playing, whether slowing it down or speeding it up. He’d really be helped by a training camp and practices to determine what to do, where to do it and when to do so. He’d like to become better at knowing the personnel and how to run the team, which was more difficult due to such a lack of time he had in the purple and gold.

- On if his shooting struggles in the playoffs had to do with trying to get the ball to the bigs or Kobe more and not being in a rhythm: “It’s tough to figure out, because the offense changes a little more than in the regular season, but there were still shots that I was getting that I’d knock down if I got them tomorrow,” he said. “Sometimes they just don’t go in, that’s how basketball goes sometimes.”

- Sessions felt like the Lakers simply needed to be consistent for 48 minutes, which was a problem all season and in the playoffs, and lamented letting “some slip away” against Oklahoma City. “We played a great 46 minutes of basketball” in Game 2, he said, and 42 minutes in Game 4. That’ll hurt in the offseason.

- On what needs to improve defensively: “Just sticking my nose in there a little more on the weak side. A lot of little things. When you’re on teams that are rebuilding, defense is not the most important thing, so you don’t really see the little things. But when you’re playing with a championship team like the Lakers, those little things – like a box out or chasing the guard all the way through, things you can get away with on a rebuilding team – are big when you’re trying to win a championship.

- Sessions and his dog Sesh will return to Atlanta for the offseason as he makes his decision and works on his game.

Troy Murphy: 2012 Exit Interview

Troy Murphy appeared in 59 games for the Lakers in the regular season, averaging 3.2 points with 3.2 rebounds while making 28 of 67 three pointers (41.8 percent). He played 15 total minutes in the postseason, as Jordan Hill claimed the majority of backup big man minutes behind Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

Below is a summary of Murphy’s exit interview:

On his season as a whole: “I enjoyed playing here. Unfortunately it ended sooner than we’d expected. I’m going to take some time off and collect my thoughts and see what the future has in store … It was an honor to play here. So much history, great fans, great players and every year you know you’re going to be playing for a championship. It’s a real honor.”

On having to stay ready. “It was tough being in and out of the rotation, but when my number was called, I tried to go out there and do what the coaches asked of me, and stay ready for when they called.”

On staying healthy: “It was huge for me to be able to be healthy the entire time after (being hurt last season) was tough, so I feel good about that.”

- Murphy explained that the offense was designed to utilized the size advantage the Lakers had, and that no team in the league had better bigs. His role was basically to space the floor for either Bynum or Gasol, and rebound the ball on the other end. But more specifically, Murphy got into how the league is in terms of “stretch 4′s” like himself, and how Gasol essentially had to play out of position and sacrifice much of his game: “The way our I think it’s based on the personnel. You look at a team like San Antonio that was a low post dominating team for many years, and as Tim Duncan has gotten older they’re relying more on the 3-point shot, so they have a guy like Matt Bonner space the floor for them.”

And that, said Murphy, is why not having camp or much time to practice was difficult for the Lakers: “I think that’s where the abbreviated season was a detriment to us, trying to figure out with those three guys that can each post up and command a double team where to put those guys. That’s a hard thing. Other teams have been together know where guys are going to go and how to play off each other.”

- More specifically on Gasol: “I think Pau is a different kind of animal because most guys that are stretch fours are as good as Pau is in the post. You might think Pau is better in the post than he is as a stretch four. He can command a double team and is effective in both areas, so you don’t really want to take that away from him as much. It’s a tough thing for him to try and balance out when to play inside and when to be that stretch guy because he has the ability to do both.”

And finally, what stood about about playing with Kobe: He makes some impossibly difficult shots every game. His basketball IQ is by far greater than anybody I’ve ever played with. He understands where the defense is coming from, where he’s going to be open, and that was very impressive just observing that situation. He makes it easier for guys because he gets double-teamed … he’s just a great player.

Metta World Peace: 2012 Exit Interview

Metta World Peace overcame a slow start to the 2011-12 season – plagued by offseason injury during the lockout – by rallying after the All-Star break, his numbers jumping to 10.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.08 steals on 43 percent field goals and 33.1 percent on threes compared to 4.9 points, 5.9 boards, 4.0 assists and 1.72 steals on 33.5 percent field goals and 23.9 percent three pointers.

In the playoffs, MWP went for 11.7 points plus 3.5 boards, 2.3 assists and 2.17 steals on 36.7 percent field goals.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On still believing the Lakers should be playing: “Definitely underachieved. We’re the best team in the NBA, lost in five, we should be up 3-2 playing tomorrow. But the better team (OKC) that took advantage of the moment, of their time, seized it and they grabbed it and held onto it. We gotta find a way to hold onto our moments.”

- On next season, while describing his slow start: “I gotta come back just how I left off. I was playing at a high level and need to be able to stay there. The lockout hurt me a lot, because last season going into the playoffs I had a nerve issue in my back … once the lockout happened I wasn’t able to address it so all I could do was rest. It took me 2-3 months to get in shape. I was hitting the front of the rim a lot at the beginning of the season, but as I got in shape, shots started to go right. I started to get a lot of dunks … that was only because I was in shape.”

- Metta says that several of the Lakers need to trust themselves more and not depend on Kobe so much. “Mitch brought you here for a reason,” as he put it. He said it can be difficult to play with Kobe while thinking about his greatness and legacy, that teammates – not himself – had a problem being assertive knowing that Kobe was there. He has a good point, but it can be a chicken and egg argument. Is that lack of aggression at times because Kobe is extra aggressive? For World Peace, at least, that stopped being an issue; he didn’t just stand and watch Kobe try to win games like he may have in his first season. Think Game 7 of the Finals vs. Boston for a good example. He was never afraid to shoot or create a play, make or miss.

- World Peace on Mike Brown: “It was a new regime … a drastic change. It took a bit getting used to.” But World Peace said it wasn’t the coaching staff’s fault that guys missed shots, turned the ball over and the like in – for example – Game 2 and Game 4, when they led big late. “Mike didn’t come in out of shape” … then he reconsidered, and said, laughingly, “wait he did come in out of shape … he’s a fat#&@.”

- Metta kept returning to the theme that the Lakers had plenty of talent, but couldn’t find a way to channel it properly when it counted. He likes to discuss the inside dominance that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum possess, discussing – for example – how they controlled the tempo of Game 2 against the Thunder by playing at that pace, but lamented that they couldn’t do it more consistently. Throughout the season, MWP would often say the Lakers couldn’t be beaten if they played at the pace of Bynum and Gasol, but that became easier said than done against teams like Denver and Oklahoma City.

- On his loyalty to the Lakers: “The Lakers did a lot for me. I like it here. The Lakers did nothing but great things for me; I got a championship here, something I always wanted. I don’t really talk about myself, just what can make the team better, whatever is in the best interest of the Lakers.”

- World Peace wasn’t sure if he’d be able to find his dominance again, but credited Dr. Judy Seto, the team’s physical therapist, for figuring out what was wrong with him and getting him back to what he was physically. That excited him greatly, and has him eager for next season. He also cited the work of the team’s strength coach, Tim DiFrancesco.