Bird hints at possible moves in NBA Draft
Editor's Note: Larry Bird met with the media after the Pacers' final scheduled pre-draft workout on June 19 and shared his thoughts about the prospects as well as his hopes for the June 26 NBA Draft. What follows is a transcript of that session.
Q. Big guys and point guards still the focus?
A. “Yeah, it’s according to what we do in other things but you always look at big guys and we need points so it has to be an emphasis, no question.”
Q. I know you don’t want to show your hand but are there some of these guys that have stepped up and maybe opened your eyes these last few weeks?
A. “Well, it’s always better to bring them in here and work them out the way that we think they can play, if they can get up and down and defend. It’s always better to see them in person. I have a good feeling of who we’re going to take right now and we think he’ll be there.”
Q. Is he a point guard or a big guy?
A. “He’s one of the two.”
Q. Larry, do you feel like there’s one position more important over the other, or do you feel like you need a point guard more than you need a big man?
A. “Not really. We’ll take the best player available. A guy that can help us out right now.”
Q. How much weight do you put on the workout—
A. “I’ve put on quite a bit lately.”
Q. What do you think (about) their body of work throughout college or how much does this weigh when they come in here personally?
A. “It’s good to see them up close and in your own arena. These guys have been scouted. We’ve been scouting them all year long. If a guy has a bad day, you just shake it off and move on.”
Q. Larry, how much do you look into character? Not just the on-court work, do you check with friends? Do you check with coaches? Do you do that kind of homework as well?
A. “Oh yeah, we do it all. We talk to a lot of people. We’ve got guys out there doing background checks and it’s a little different than it used to be.”
Q. Did you hear Jeff Van Gundy talking about you the other night on the broadcast?
Q. Somebody said that you’re a Celtic and that you’ll always be a Celtic and he said ‘No, he’s a Pacer, that’s what his paycheck says.’
A. “Well, I’m a Pacer. I played out there but I’m happy where I’m at.”
Q. Do you feel like you can get the player you want? Are you guys looking to trade up or do you feel like 11 is going to be where it’s at?
A. “Well, there’s going to be a heck of a player at (pick) 11. There’s no question about that. We’ve talked to a number of teams about different scenarios but we’ve got some things in the works so if we can get another pick that would be just great. We’re looking at all options.”
Q. Do you think there’s a chance you’ll move up?
A. “We possibly could but I like 11. I like a lot of places but whoever we get is going to help us. He’s going to be a good player.”
Q. When you look at this thing, do you feel like it’s turning into more of a point guard league? When you look at some of the top players in the league, it’s more point guard oriented over big men?
A. “Well, there’s a lot of good point guards in the league right now. There’s no question that it’s a very critical position. We look at all of the point guards, but we’ll take the best player available whether it’s a point, a swingman, or a big man. We’d like to have another pick in this draft and that’s what we’re trying to get right now.”
Q. Do you feel like the point guard position is even more vital the way Jim (O’Brien) plays offensively and defensively?
A. “Well, if you don’t have a real strong point guard, you have to have a good off-guard. I always like to have two guards out there that can handle the ball. The way Jimmy plays, anyone can bring it up and start the offense. It’s important to have a solid starter at the point. The way Jimmy plays, quickness and up-tempo, as long as you have a good two guard out there with him.”
Q. The player you’re looking at, do you feel like you’re pretty confident he’ll be at 11?
A. “Oh, yes. Yes.”
Q. The fact that (Russell) Westbrook (UCLA) didn’t come, does that compromise your interest in him at all?
A. “Not really, we’ve seen enough of him. Like I said, we’d like to have them all come through here. (J.J.) Hickson (NC State) didn’t come. Guys that showed up (today) here, this has been our best workout as far as number of guys we’ve had in here. They really played hard and did a good job.”
Q. Is there a reason why Westbrook didn’t come?
A. “He’s been hurt. We’ll probably get him in here early next week.”
Q. What’s your take on Mike Green from Butler?
A. “I like Mike. He’s scrappy, he’s smart and every time he steps on the court he does some good things.”
Q. George Hill from IUPUI was in here last week. Your thoughts on him?
A. “George Hill played very well. I don’t know where he’ll go in the draft but he’ll have a job, no question about it. (He’s) very skilled.”
Q. What do guys have a chance to show in workouts like this that maybe they can’t show in their college setting because they have to do certain things to help that team win?
A. “Right. Here, you can see how athletic they are whereas a lot of places they play in college, some of the teams are so good that kids can’t really do the things they want to do (like) one-on-one and pick-and-pop. Coaches want them to stay down low. You see a number of players come through here that are a lot more athletic than we really thought they are because they were in a structured offense.”
Q. Larry, a lot of the analysts and mock draft types, basically (have) it down to Westbrook and Augustin for you guys at 11. Would you have a surprise for them or is that a reasonable forecast?
A. “We’ll see. We’ll know next Thursday. All I know is that we’re going to get a good player. I can guarantee that.”
Q. What do you take away from some of the guys that come through here that aren’t necessarily first-round draft picks and may be free agents or summer team guys? How seriously do you look at them and how do you evaluate those kind of guys?
A. “Yeah, we will. We think they’re very important. The last couple of years, we’ve had guys we sent overseas. We’re at 41 this year in the second round and we feel we’ll get a player that has the possibility of making our team. We’re looking hard at it. We’re looking at a lot of guys. We feel we can get a player there that could help us down the road.”
Q. How good is this draft?
A. “I think it’s a great draft. The top 20 picks, there’s players that are going to step in and play right away.”
Q. When you say play right away, are you talking starters or..?
A. “I don’t know about starting but they’ll play a lot of minutes.”
Q. Larry, you’ve had a lot of prominent big guys (work out), McGee, Jordan, Hibbert now and Arthur; how do you break down and analyze that group?
A. “They’re all very talented big guys. This (Darrell) Arthur is a man. He’s good. The other guys played very well. Obviously, he didn’t play against the other guys. They were all here together but Arthur’s probably got the most skill of any of them. There’s no question.”
Q. All things being equal, do you lean towards experience and players that are more ready to step in or are you more interested in potential?
A. “Well, I’m ready for a guy to step in and play. We’d like to have him three or four years (in college) but there’s some players that come through here with one year of college and have gone on to make a really big impact in this league. I really feel that the eleventh pick, we’re going to get a heck of a player and he’s going to help us.”