Archive for the 'Joe Smith' Category

Joe Smith: 2010-11 Exit Interviews

The No. 1 overall pick in 1995, Joe Smith’s just about seen it all in the NBA, having played on so many teams that the Lakers were actually his 12th. He appeared in 12 games for the Lakers via a trade with New Jersey, and scoring a total of six points with 18 rebounds, and played just over 10 total minutes in the playoffs.

He was hoping for the chance at his first NBA title, but in his exit interview said he really valued his time in Los Angeles:

- Summing up his exit interview with GM Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson: Pretty much just what went wrong down the stretch, nothing too much in particular. Just my thoughts about what happened down the stretch, and any issues I thought needed to be addressed going forward.

- Smith tried to put his finger on what happened to L.A. in the playoffs: “When you have a team that’s won back-to-back championships with so much talent and veteran leadership, it’s kinda tough to put a finger on what happened. This team has been through a lot of wars together as a group, and with the nucleus that they have, you kinda almost feel that you’re invincible when you step out there on the floor. I don’t know if you we got a little too overconfident or not with that situation, but it’s just a tough pill to swallow to be sitting at home right now. You figure that no matter what situations they face on the floor, they’d figure out a way to get things going in their direction again. From the outside looking in, that was always my thought even when the situations weren’t in my favor. I always figured we have enough talent, we have the coaches, we have the ability to get out of this funk and over this hump and get things going in our favor again.”

On Phil Jackson: “He’s an incredible coach. A lot of people look at the rings, and from the outside looking in, think he had to do it with a lot of talent, but just being here a long … I’ve learned a lot from him in this short time. I’ve learned a whole different basketball terminology from him, and it’s been a pleasure for me to play for him.

On what stands out about Jackson: He still teaches the fundamentals about the game of basketball, and that’s something you kind of get away from if you don’t practice it. One of the practices (after) I got here we were doing chest passes, over head passes, things like that. He teaches you different pivots to get you out of danger, just small things like that that you kind of forget about it you don’t practice it.

- On Andrew Bynum, from a guy who’s played with and against the league’s best centers for years: “23? That’s incredible. The size that he has, the ability that he has at the age of 23 … the sky is the limit for him. I’ve seen him go against some of the top centers in the league and pretty much dominate. Like I said, the age of 23 with still a lot to learn about the game, a lot to learn about his position and he’s willing to put the work in. He definitely has the potential to be the best center in this league one day.

- Smith said he’s definitely going to try and still play in the league: “I’m going to keep the wheels rolling. I feel pretty good. I take care of my body, and it held up all season long for me. I still love to play the game, still enjoy being in the locker room, the bus rides, the plane trips. If I’m fortunate enough to get back on a team next year, I’m gonna keep rolling. They’re going to have to drag me out of here.”

Joe Smith’s View from the Bench

Joe Smith has played a total of 17 minutes for the Lakers this season, scoring two points with six rebounds and a block. The former No. 1 overall pick in 1995, a year before Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher entered the league, Smith recognized when he was traded from New Jersey as part of the Sasha Vujacic deal that playing time would be hard to come by.

But that doesn’t mean he’s sitting around twiddling his thumbs.

His primary focus has been on learning the triangle offense, perhaps the only system he didn’t see while playing for 11 other teams. Additionally, he’s trying to be a positive locker room presence for a group of like-minded veterans. He has even taken over the role of the final pregame motivator previously occupied by Josh Powell, offering words of encouragement and varying hand shakes to Kobe and Co. just before opening tip.

Smith arrived prior to the team’s road contest at Philadelphia, and, after wins against the Sixers and Raptors, he watched from the bench as the twice defending champs lose three straight games to Milwaukee, Miami and San Antonio. But Smith’s been around too long to read too much into a short December swoon, and remained confident things would turn around particularly once Andrew Bynum returned to the starting line up, signifying his return to relative health. The night after the loss to the Spurs, Bynum was there for the opening tip, and since then the Lakers have won 10 of 12 games, including a run of seven straight wins.

It’s pretty simple, really, says the guy who practices against L.A.’s nearly 21 feet of big men.

“You’ve got two seven footers out there starting and that’s tough on anybody to begin with,” said Smith. “One (Gasol) that can stretch the floor, put the ball on the floor and the other (Bynum) who commands the paint. That’s always going to be effective in this league, and when you have a talent like Lamar (Odom) accepting that role off the bench and playing like he’s been playing, that’s a trio that is always going to be tough for anybody to match up with.”

In Smith’s eyes, the Lakers are getting closer and closer to being the dominant team he thought he was joining, outscoring opponents by a total of 127 points during that 12-game stretch (10.6 per game) .

“The team’s really been showing up lately, and it’s been a team effort now that everyone is getting more used to the defensive scheme,” he said. “Offensively, shots are falling that weren’t really going down when I first got here, but mostly it’s just a greater intensity out there.”

There were countless games in which Smith wore the jersey of the Sixers, Timberwolves or Warriors and watched Bryant go on one of his patented scoring bursts, but Smith took particular pleasure in witnessing Bryant’s 17-point fourth quarter explosion at Golden State on Jan. 12.

“You get excited … it’s just a whole different scenario,” he explained. “I know what type of closer he is in the fourth quarter from watching him opposite the court, but seeing how much confidence he has taking those shots is what makes him Kobe. For my first time, it was real impressive.”

Smith didn’t play in that game, but he was of course in the locker room when Bryant walked in, thinking to himself that it was telling to see Bryant acting the same way as he had after the previous (55-point) win over Cleveland, keeping the even keel Smith said is so important in the middle of the regular season.

Right now, Smith’s content to watch, and learn, trying to get himself ready in case Phil Jackson has to call his number.

Joe Smith’s First Lakers Interview

Joe Smith spoke to a few reporters at the team’s road practice site in Philadelphia on the day he joined the team after being traded for Sasha Vujacic and draft picks in a three-team trade with New Jersey and Houston.

Smith, the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft, joins his 13th team in a 16-year career. He appeared in four games this season for New Jersey, playing a total of 24 minutes.

Below is the transcript:

On joining the Lakers:
Smith: It’s always tough going through a trade, especially when you have a bunch of young guys like we had in New Jersey that kind of blossomed towards me and I was able to help out a lot, but at the same time, at this point in my career this is probably a great move. This team has won two (titles) in a row and has a chance to win a third one, so hopefully I can be a part of that and try to bring whatever I can to the table to help us succeed.

On his impressions of Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher in particular during his 16-year tenure.
Smith: Winners. Phil has always been a winner, Kobe has always had a winning attitude and been a winner, Derek’s always been a winner. From afar, as an opponent looking in, that’s how we had to look at them, as winners. You have to bring your A game in order to beat them.

On the closest he’s been to winning a championship:
Smith: Eastern Conference Semi Finals with Cleveland a couple of years ago (2008). We lost to Boston in that series in (seven games). The excitement that we had in that series was something that makes you hungry to try and achieve it again. I think we have a good shot here, and hopefully we get it done again.

On if he thought a chance at a title had passed him by:
Smith: I did but I was still hopeful that something could happen like it ended up (happening) at a place like this. I was excited when I got the phone call, kinda sad and excited like I said, it’s kind of tough to leave a young group of guys that you’d grown close to, but at the same point you have to look at the bigger picture, especially at this point of my career.

On what he has to bring on the basketball floor and in the locker room:
Smith: Experience. It’s my 16th year, and I’ve been through all types of situations, winning and losing. I know what it takes to get through both. On the basketball floor, the same energy I’ve always brought throughout my career … defending, rebounding, knocking down shots when available.

On how his body feels physically:
Smith: It feels great. I haven’t had too much contact, I don’t have any injuries I’m nursing right now. Everything is holding up, I’m just ready to go now.

On why he wasn’t getting minutes in New Jersey:
Smith: They were trying to play the younger guys. We had four or five guys at one position: Derrick Favors; Troy Murphy; Kris Humphries. They were trying to develop them, and that’s why they felt that this would be a good opportunity for me to move on and try to do something special here in L.A.

On if he expected any trade was going to happen:
Smith: I didn’t, actually. I found out (while) we were playing Philadelphia Tuesday at home. I got a text from my agent telling him to call me a.s.a.p., that’s when I found out, about 50 minutes before game time. I heard “Los Angeles Lakers,” and I smiled the whole game.

On the triangle offense :
Smith: I got a quick tutorial, real quick. I wasn’t able to go through it with the players as of yet, but hopefully tomorrow everything will be cleared so I can do some physical stuff. It’s not as difficult as people think, but it does have its (tough parts).

On if moving so much gets any easier:
Smith: No, it never gets any easier. Somehow I accumulate more stuff when I get to a city than I ever expected. Yesterday was a long day with me packing, trying to get as much stuff in suitcases as I could. I still have some stuff back in Jersey, but hopefully I can get somebody to get the rest of it. (But) my family is in Arizona. That’s another good thing about this trade, being closer to my kids. My son is excited about it. He texted me like, “Are you really a Laker?” He’s 12. He was pumped up about it. They’re excited, I’m excited.

On going from a young team to a veteran team:
Smith: That’s key in this league, being on a team with guys that know what it takes to win games … sometimes it does get kind of frustrating when you come out with younger guys and you have a 20-point lead, and all of a sudden you see it vanish. On a veteran team that’s been through the wars, winning championships and things like that, they know what it takes to get to that next level.

On if he spoke to GM Mitch Kupchak or Coach Phil Jackson:
Smith: I talked to Mitch a little bit yesterday. Once the trade went through, we had a chance to talk a little bit. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Coach Jackson yet. Whatever my role is expected to be, that’s going to be what (I do).

On how he has no former teammates:
Smith: No, I don’t, this is the first team that I’ve been on that I have no teammate on. But Theo (Ratliff) and I, we’ve been (going at it) for years … and obviously just playing against these guys.

On if he remembers any specific games in which Kobe Bryant went off on his team:
Smith: He went off a lot … it’s not just one game, he went off a lot. He’s that type of player.