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Complete Transcript: Larry Birdís Pre-Draft Briefing
Transcript: Larry Birdís Pre-Draft Briefing
July 23, 2005
Pacers President Larry Bird met with the media for an informal question-and-answer briefing about the Pacers' plans for the June 28 NBA Draft. What follows is a transcript of that session.
Q: Since you have the No. 17 pick how difficult do you think it will be to get a guy that can contribute?
A: Well, itís just not an issue at all because I think there are going to be at least four guys there that I think can make an impact on our team, and thatís all I can ask for.
Q: Do you have a sense of whether or not this yearís draft is deeper than last yearís?
A: My feeling about this draft is, you got your main guys like (Andrew) Bogut, (Marvin) Williams and some other ones in the top five or six, but after that, all the guys to me are basically the same, theyíre all great players. All the way up to probably 20. There will be some steals in this draft and itís a little different, thereís no really clear-cut (definition between the players), after I think number five. You could draft a guy at 17 that could be better than the number six pick in the draft.
Q: Hypothetically, if you had the No. 1 pick who do you like better between Bogut and Williams?
A: Well, I would take Bogut for our team, but I like Marvin Williams, Iíve seen him play in high school and heís very talented. Is he ready for this, who knows? But, heís going to be a good one.
Q: Do you have a position youíre looking to fill right now?
A: Not really. I think what Iím hearing now is that thereís a group of four or five guys, most of them are different positions, and I think weíll get a kid that hopefully after All-Star break, when you put him in the lineup, heíll be able to do things that a coach wants him to do. I mean, I think heís really going to help us.
Q: What is it that makes Bogut unique for this yearís draft?
A: Well, he can play some center but I donít know if heís a real center, itís according to where he goes. If he goes to Milwaukee heíll have to play the center position, but heís very skilled, he can use his left and right hand, he knows how to play, he can pass out of the post, he will be a very solid player.
Q: Would you be interested in moving up in the draft, or are you still satisfied with the 17th pick?
A: Well, if we stayed at 17 I would be satisfied because thereís a group of players there that whoever we take there is going to help our team. But we had some calls about moving, trading and moving up, but some of the guys theyíre asking for I donít want to give up on them. So, right now, it seems like thereís a good possibility weíre going to stay there, but if we can get up there and get a player we know can step right in and make a big impact on our team, yeah, weíll probably try to do that.
Q: How likely is it that you will pick a European player?
A: Marko Tomas got out of the draft, who I really liked, he wouldíve been probably around 15-20, 22. I really liked him, Iíve seen him play you know for the last two years, some of the big guys Iím not really impressed with, theyíve got a long ways to go. Thereís a point guard, (Roko) Ukic I think is his name, very good, a lot of size, heís still in the draft, but, thereís some good players, but a lot of the best players pulled out.
Q: Do you feel like the personal time you spent in Europe watching players was wasted since a lot of them have pulled out?
A: No, not really. I really feel now, the kids, the young kids, the next great group is coming from Russia. And theyíre still 17Ö16, 17, 18 years old. One of them is going to be in the draft this year, I think heís going to be a tremendous player, (Yaroslav) Korolev. But, you know, itís going to take time.
Q: It seems like thereís a lot of talk surrounding the three point-guards that will probably be taken in the top ten, but since this is a very deep point-guard class, do you still think you will be able to get a good one?
A: Thereís no question about it. I mean youíve got Paul, Williams and Felton and all three of them are very good players. You know Iíve seen some mock drafts where Felton might slip to 10 or 12, but I donít know if I believe that. I think heís good enough to be in the top seven or eight players taken. So this is a deep draft for point guards.
Q: Since youíve lost your shooting guard in Reggie, what shooting guards are out there that you like?
A: Marko Tomas. (Francisco) Garcia is in the draft, Marko Tomas, I really like Luther Head which I think can play point guard. Thereís a number of players, (Rashad) McCants is out there, a very talented player, but you know itís just according to who is going to be in that group when we select. I mean, I might take a point guard, I may take a two, I donít know yet itís according to who is left.
Q: How much do you weigh the playerís character when considering them for the draft?
A: Well, like Rick Carlisle says, Ďwe donít want a bunch of milk drinkers here.í Weíll take the good with the bad, but Iíve known Rashad for a couple of years, Iíve talked to him, Iíve been in to watch him practice and heís a very, very talented player, so, weíll see what happens.
Q: Are there any really good shooters out there that can come in and stroke it from the perimeter?
A: You know all the guys weíve had in, weíve had Garcia in, weíve had Luther Head in, weíve had a number of guys in and every one of them have shot the ball extremely well. I know Garcia, Iíve seen him play a lot of times. I know Luther Head, everyone knows about Luther and how well he can shoot it. Thereís a number of guys out there that can put the ball in the basket.
Q: Are you geared more towards the backcourt in this draft than the frontcourt?
A: Well, I canít say, because things change, itís according to who is there. We feel we have some areas where we feel weíre getting better in. And, thereís going to be a group of guys there when we select and I think we have it pretty well figured out who is going to be there. And we just got to make the decision on which one we want.
Q: What skills are you targeting?
A: Somebody that can help us. Somebody better than what we've got, and we've got some good players.
Q: Where is Sean May in the draft, do you think heís slipping?
A: Well, he could be there when we draft. Heís one of the guys that Iíve got picked out from the group that might be available when we draft, but if thereís a team that really likes him at nine or 10 thereís still going to be another great player there dropping down to us. You know, itís hard to get all these guys to come in for a workout but, Iím not really big on that since weíve watched them play so much throughout the year. But, we do like at least for them to come in and sit down and talk with them.
Q: There has been a trend for the team to take college players, is that a philosophy of the team or just a coincidence?
A: Well, I mean itís funny, you look at the guys that have gone to college for a few years and compare them to some of these young kids that are coming out that think they should be playing 40 minutes a game, itís a little different. And at one time we had two high school players here, they were great guys, had a great work ethic, but you know, they always wanted to play more and do more. Whereas, a guy like James Jones comes in and you donít have to worry about him. Heíll play whatever role, you know he wants to play all the time but he still accepts the roles that heís in, so, I always think if you can get a guy or a college player who's been in school for three or four years, I think itís to your advantage to probably look at him and probably draft him.
Q: Does that mean youíre more likely to pick a college player in this draft rather than a high school player or a European?
A: Well, if Gerald Green is there we will take him, but other than that weíll be looking for someone with great talent and someone who went to college for a few years.
Q: How do you see Sean May's game projecting to the NBA level. What do you think his strengths and his weaknesses are?
A: Well, I think heís got all the tools. I think his ability to rebound, heís an intelligent player, heís got great hands, the only problem he may have in this league, but I doubt it, is it wonít be as easy to get his shots off as it was in college, heíll be contested almost every time, but smart players and good players have the ability to adjust their game and overcome all of that, and I think he is one of those players.
Q: How dramatically did the players that withdrew affect your plan?
A: Not at all. Rudy Fernandez, Joe (Ash) has been watching him for years; heís going to be a very good NBA player in the future but heís just not strong enough yet. If we had taken a guy like that we would have had to wait two or three years before he was able to come in and help us. Tiago Splitter, heís another kid, a couple of years in Europe and heíll be fine. But, itís just according to what you need I guess, and theyíre just not ready yet. In my mind theyíre not ready to play here yet, but theyíre very talented.
Q: What are the chances that the guy youíre going to get is going to make the team, let alone help the team?
A: Oh, heís going to make the team, weíre confident enough that the guy weíre going to get is not only going to make our team, but is going to play-- even if I have to coach him.
Q: Where do you see Chris Thomas and Bracey Wright?
A: I donít know. You know, weíve got the 46th pick right now in the second round, will they get there, I donít know. I know Bracey had great workouts, he played very well in Chicago. Chris Thomas struggled at times, but weíve seen enough of him to know what he does well. So, itís really hard to project guys like that. Right now weíre concentrated on the first round and later on this week weíll start getting in on the second round and weíll find out where guys will be going.
Q: Do you think Bracey made a mistake entering the draft early?
A: No, he made a decision, whether itís good or bad heís going to have to live with it. But Braceyís a good basketball player, Iíve seen him play a number of times, heís a great kid and you know I wish him well, but he played great in Chicago, he opened a lot of eyes, so that really helped him.
Q: Are you more comfortable this year in the draft process since you were involved last year?
A: Well, Iíve been involved in this for a number of years, you know in Boston I went through all this, but you know itís a long process. Thereís a lot of travel, and you see a lot of games, a lot of tapes. But, Iím confident this year we will get a player that can help us and thatís all that you can ask for.
Q: Is that typical to have the kind of confidence you have from within the team?
A: Well, with the draft this year, like I said earlier, you got the five or six guys, you know where theyíre going to go and from that point on, there to 20, the guy at 20 could be better than the guy at six, so hopefully you can get a guy that you like and when he comes in and heís able to play for your team, especially a team thatís very strong like ours, thatís nothing but a major plus, itís awesome and we will get a good player. Iím very confident in that.
Q: Are you surprised that there is a Game 7 being played in the NBA Finals?
A: Not really. I mean if you look at both teams out there, and you always talk about chemistry and guys not worrying about stats, just playing, you know maybe thatís the reason these two teams are in the Finals. Itís very simple, when youíve got a team that really comes together and plays as a team and does everything as a team they do it for a reason. And itís to get to the NBA Finals and have a chance to win the world championship. Iím not surprised by either team. You talk to Detroit and they always say they donít have any superstars on their team but they have a lot of great players on their team. You look at Tim Duncan, and other than that, theyíre a team. And thatís what weíre trying to stress with our guys the last couple of years, that itís not about stats, if you really want to win the whole thing itís about playing together and being a team and having the right chemistry.
Q: Why is there not a lot of talk about trade activity floating around and why is this the period of time when you would be active?
A: We are active, but I donít call you up every day and tell you what weíre doing. But itís one of the busiest times, a lot of work goes on here to try to figure out the draft, if you can move up or if you can move down, and everyoneís trying to get players to make their teams better, but we donít like to have a lot of our information out there. Weíre not trying to hide anything, but if you have two or three players that you really like, if you have to move up to get one of those guys you do that, but right now sitting at No. 17, I know weíre going to get a good player. So you know, why should I sit here and tell you who we want?
Q: How willing are you to alter the roster as it is now?
A: I donít want to give up too much. I like our team, obviously I think we got some needs, we've got to get better in some areas, but I donít want to give up a good player thatís really helped us out in the last couple of years just to move up four or five spots in the draft. Because I know next year that player will be very valuable to us. And you donít know how valuable they are until you move 'em and you let 'em go. I think itís a very important process to just add pieces and make ourselves better. I donít want to trade away some guys just to move up in the draft and get a guy at 14, when you could have gotten him at 17.
Q: Last year you made an effort to move up because Al Harrington asked to be traded. Are you not doing that this year since no one has said they want to leave?
A: Oh thereís a couple that want out of here. Not really, Iím just teasing. Last year was different, I mean Al made it known that he would like to move on, get more playing time and we couldnít give it to him here. This year itís a little different our main core, our main group of guys, we like them. Do we have to get better and put better people around them? Weíre going to try to do that.