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Q: What will be the biggest difference fans may notice in the Pistons this season?
A: The defense is going to stay the same. Offensively, we hope to be more aggressive. We will be more in attack mode. Most of what we will try to do involves more player movement, and not just one or two guys. We will have five guys moving at the same time.
Q: Will we see more Darko Milicic?
A: If he plays well, you will see him. Based on what I've seen, he's improved a lot from a year ago. Right now, let's just wait and see what happens throughout the exhibition season.
Q: You added Ron Harper to the staff. What does he bring to the team? Are you afraid he'll take young players' money in card games?
A: I don't know if he'll take their money in card games, but he may take some in shooting games. Ron brings credibility. He's got five rings. Ron is a very bright student of the game. -- Chris McCosky
LeBron James: wise beyond his game
Q: How tough has it been, just missing the playoffs in your first two seasons?
A: You have to put it behind you. It's a learning experience. I know how well I played and how well I could have played. It's mental. I will mentally prepare myself better than I did the last two years.
Q: What is Mike Brown going to bring to the team?
A: Point-blank, defense. We have enough players to play offense. It's all about defense with Coach. He hasn't been a head coach before. He's a rookie at this. He needs the support from us. He's going to voice his opinions. We might not always agree, but he's the head coach and we have to respect him. In the long run, we all know he's behind us.
Q: How did you get involved in recruiting Larry Hughes? What will he add?
A: When we played Washington last year, I said, "Larry, we need you." If it wasn't for breaking his thumb before the All-Star break, Larry would have made the All-Star team. He led the NBA in steals. I love his game. He takes pride in playing defense. Every team needs to improve its defense, especially us.
Q: You're only 20, but you're already a very big name. If you have a problem or need advice from another player in the league, who can you call?
A: I go to myself. I know all I need to know right now.
Q: You're a young guy with a veteran's perspective. So who has the best old-man game in the league?
A: One veteran player I look up to is Kevin Garnett. I don't want to say he's old. He came into the league in 1995. He's a veteran player I look up to because he paved the way for myself and others. Also, Kobe (Bryant) and Tracy (McGrady). -- Bob Finnan
Ray Allen: sticking in Seattle
Q: What will you miss most about Nate McMillan?
A: He tried to be so steely-eyed, but I could see his excitement. Being able to make him excited is probably one of the things I'll miss more than anything.
Q: What about Jerome James? A:Just his stories. Jerome used to come in with a million stories, and they'd all be lies. He was always the laughingstock in the locker room because if he said something, everybody would kind of tap each other and roll their eyes because he wasn't telling the truth.
Q: Tell us one young player on your roster whom you expect to make a leap forward this year.
A: Nick Collison will be better. He'll open some eyes and get some national attention.
Q: Off the court, who's the smartest guy on the team (besides you, of course)? Who'd win at Wheel of Fortune?
A: Certainly, not me. I'd say Mateen Cleaves. He has a lot of street-wise about him and common sense. He knows his whereabouts, and it allows him to get around. -- Percy Allen
Tracy McGrady: putting the tough in T-Mac
Q: Was an athletic big guy missing last season? Can Stromile Swift be that guy?
A: That was missing. He definitely could have helped us with his athleticism and being able to play multiple positions because when we played Dallas in the playoffs, those guys went small on us. I think he is capable of guarding a Dirk Nowitzki, so I don't have to put so much pressure on myself and do so much on both ends of the court.
Q: Can the Spurs be beaten? How?
A: You have to prepare well. They're well-coached. I think when you play them, you have to be disciplined and execute on both ends. And you can't have mental mistakes.
Q: What is the toughest part of playing for Jeff Van Gundy?
A: You know what, that's a great question. That's tough. I guess probably the toughest part is I was used to coaches just letting us have easy days at practice. There are no light practices with Jeff. There's not one day you can be not ready to get up and down the court and get after it. -- Jonathan Feigen
Al Jefferson: leader of the Celtics' brat pack
Q: The Celtics are such a young team. How long do you think it will take for this group to be a challenger in the East?
A: We're going to be scary right now. I'm not going say we're going to win the championship this year. But by the end of this year, we're going to have made our point. A lot of people are going to say, "The Celtics really can play. These young guys mean business."
Q: Is there a veteran guy who helped guide you through last season, showed you around the city, that sort of thing?
A: Kendrick Perkins kind of helped guide me around the city. There are only three places you really need to know how to get to. That's the practice facility, the airport and the Garden. If you can get to those three places, everything else is going to fall into place.
Q: Will you do that for Gerald Green, another kid out of high school?
A: Yeah. All of us (younger players) stick together. It isn't really about who goes with who. We all kind of run in a pack. -- Shira Springer
Ron Artest: the fight and his life
Q: How did you spend the last year away from basketball?
A: I was able to spend more time with my family, especially the first couple of months when I wasn't practicing with the team. I spent more time on my recording. I was able to go to church more often. I had a chance to put my kids to sleep a lot of nights. I had a chance to write more songs, and I had a chance to get my life in order.
Q: Did you get tired of watching the fight at The Palace on TV?
A: Not really. Sometimes I'd change channels. I wasn't that interested in it. But I wouldn't turn away from it. You can't be afraid of your past.
Q: Some people say the Pacers will have a hard time winning a title because you're unreliable. How do you respond to that?
A: That's a fair statement. But people thought a lot of people wouldn't win championships. People thought Detroit wouldn't win a championship. They didn't give them a chance against the Lakers. Nobody knew Tim Duncan would win three championships by now. Everybody thought Shaquille would have about six titles by now. You can't tell. -- Mark Montieth