Triple the Execs, Triple Your Pleasure: Bits from Randy Rigby, Kevin O’Connor, and Dennis Lindsey Interviews (2/6 – 2/8)
Randy Rigby (2/6)
“This is a fun brand of basketball.”
This is a fun brand of basketball. I think our fanses* are coming out and our fans coming out, and watching this. There’s some exciting, great basketball being played out on that floor, that people are really enjoying, and we want to encourage people to continue to come out and be a support to us.
* Not a typo
Do you get secret satisfaction out of Metta World Peace getting suspended for punching Brandon Knight and the Lakers losing?
I think anyone that knows me, it’s no secret that, it’s, there’s a, yeah, I always smile at, when we see things like that happening. You know, you don’t wish bad things on other teams. That’s not what we try to do.
But at the same time, you know what, when I see teams that are trying to buy a championship, or being able to spend the money they’re spending, and so those plans maybe backfire, it speaks to those of us that really, like our organization, that tries to do it the right way.
On the Jazz’s financial flexibility
Spencer Checketts: You guys have worked really hard to ensure that your books are clean…and that’s an invaluable situation to be in, in today’s day and age in the NBA, and I imagine you don’t really want to sacrifice that.
Rigby: We’re not going to sacrifice that. Kevin [O’Connor] has done a masterful job of really positioning our contracts and our books, as you said it, to really give us the best chance to really complement having these very great young talent we’ve been able to also acquire and develop, and when you can combine those two things, it puts us in a position that we think is going to help us, catapult us to be able to really develop a program and a team that can be, hopefully, of a championship caliber over a long-term period of time.
And so that’s very important for us to look at. We’ve appreciate our fan base, I think, understanding that. Conversations with people like yourself, Spence, in educating, again, the fan base of understanding that is a very important, also, role.
** Randy Rigby, Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine: When you have a Mo Williams, when you have a Earl Watson that’s gone down on you, unfortunately, and nothing that they could’ve done about it, it’s just hard [being injured].
On competing vs. developing
I’ve been very happy with the balance that we’ve done with our players. Again, we have a good core of some veterans and one of our philosophies has been, you know what, you have to earn your playing time. You don’t just, you know, it’s not just given to you and we’re just going to see if by chance we can improve and they improve along the way.
They’ve had to earn their way out there, and they’ve done that, and so we’ve had a nice balance, to me, of really developing our players but also making the commitment that we’re out there every night to try to win and give the very best that we can for our fan base…It’s been, I think, a win-win on all fronts.
On whether Karl Malone would make a good coach
I’ll tell ya, he has a phenomenal work ethic as it related to his personal game and his development. And you know what? I think Karl Malone, when he sets his mind to wanting to do something, Karl can do it.
And the challenge for him would be, is, I think, splitting, is all the interest that he has in his life right now at being able to take the time to do all those things,* but you know what, that’s one that I guess Karl would have to answer right now, and address, so. I’ll say this. We’re very happy with our coaching staff, and, but Karl’s a good friend of our organization, and we think the world of him.
* Karl said in his most recent interview that he’s not interested in a coaching position that requires traveling with a team, that he’s interested in just working out with the big men.
Randy Rigby’s Valentine’s Day advice to all men
Checketts: Any advice out there for the males out there that have the horrible task of trying to make a female happy on Valentine’s Day?
Rigby: I think they better not forget it. That’s one message I’m saying to myself. “You know what? Even though they say they don’t want, need anything, get out and get over to either Morgan Jeweler’s and buy something or get in and get some flowers at the Rose Shop,* and, but take care of your wife and/or girlfriend.”
[If your WAG says “I don’t want anything this year,” what does that really mean?]
That means, you better get them something. They’ll say they don’t want anything, and say, “You know what? You don’t, most people, they don’t want anything, but you know what? You, I’ve been thinking about you so much, I still want to give you something.” … It’s taken my wife 35 years to slowly train me, so Sandra’s been very patient.
* Or the Les Olsen Company, which sponsors Randy Rigby and is there for all your document needs. But that goes without saying!
Kevin O’Connor (2/7)
Would you have a problem with Karl Malone coaching for the Jazz?
No! Could he come back and play too?…
If you look at what he did for a career, somebody that went from 48-percent [free throw] shooting to 80-percent shooting, somebody that went from being probably not a very good passer to being a terrific passer out of the post, somebody that was [NBA All-Defense] that had to work at it, somebody that played however many games–1,600 games or whatever it was, and missed about three or four–I think he could bring a lot of those attributes into the coaching field.
On his working relationship with Dennis Lindsey
If we’re not on the road, we visit everyday for, you know, considerable amount of time. And obviously, we evaluate about three or four different things. One, we evaluate our team. We evaluate the rest of the league. And we evaluate the draft. And you do all of those things, you have to travel a little bit. You have to obviously have communication, and you have to have a lot of information and tape.
So, what we’ve done is to be able to divide and conquer a little bit so that we have, you know, specific areas that maybe we function on in a week, and then we reverse roles. So it’s worked out to the point where it’s just another key executive that’s really ramrodding, you know, the day-to-day operations and I’ve been able to do the evaluations that I’ve always been able to do, but maybe in even more depth.
Competing vs. developing when half the roster is on expiring contracts
It’s always better to have that kind of problem than not to have enough. That’s the first thing. And the second thing is…we’re dealing with a 20-year-old and a 21-year-old. These kids are gonna be good players, but let ‘em earn it a little bit. You know, I don’t want to sound like old school, but let ‘em earn it a little bit. And they seem to be doing that.
You know, this is not instant gratification. You’re not anointed to come in and do this. They’ve had to earn it, and they’ve done a good job in doing that, and play for their minutes, and it’s been effective for us. So when the reins, if the reins are turned over to ‘em, or when they are, they’ll understand that they’ll appreciate what they’re getting.
On the Jazz’s front court logjam
We’ve got a good problem, in the fact that [against Milwaukee], everybody was in double digits in the front court, which is something that helps us win games. What do we do going forward? That’s a decision that we’ll have to make when we reach it, but we haven’t reached it yet.
And then the other question you’ll ask is, well, why don’t you trade one of those guys now, when you can get something for ‘em? And our thought is that, what we want to do is make sure we don’t make a bad deal. If there’s something that’s out there, whether it’s, there’s no sacred cows…
Dennis is, you know, on the phones, and I’m on the phones with a lot of different people about a lot of different things, but we’re not going to make a deal just to be cosmetic.
Do the Jazz lobby for Jazz players to take part in All-Star events?
Yeah. If they’re warranted to, we do. Because we feel it’s an individual honor, and that they’ve earned it. You know, we pushed for Jeremy [Evans to participate in the Dunk Contest]. We sent the video in, showing a couple of dunks that he had in the exhibition season, and had from the year before.
As far as Randy [Foye] goes, we put a push into the NBA showing shooting percentages, what he’s done, what, you know, what other people have done. We’ve done all of those things, and they pick it, but if we feel somebody’s warrant that opportunity, then we certainly have a responsibility to do that.
Dennis Lindsey (2/8)
On the Jazz’s new injury policy
One thing that we’ve tried to encourage our group this year to do is get out in front of injuries. Let’s not let little things turn into big things. And so, I’m really pleased with how Gary [Briggs] and his staff has received that message…The one thing everyone should know with Gordon [Hayward] is we internally are applying the pressure to be cautious.
On how satisfied he is that the team “has stayed together during this time of year when there are so many rumors out there”
I don’t know how Ty and the guys are doing it, frankly. I think it does speak to the level–we’re not saying we’re championship-competitive, but we do have a very professional group and they do like each other…I don’t think the basketball community, you know, I think our community, realizes the quality of character that Ty Corbin has.
It’s impossible, guys, he’s too good of a man, to have a doghouse. And literally, every one of our guys, even the young players that get squeezed at time with minutes, you know, he sees their abilities relative to the glass is half-full. And I know for sure the Miller family, Randy Rigby, Bob Hyde, you know, Kevin O’Connor, and I really appreciate that.
On the Jazz’s strategy for championship contention and Utah as a free agent destination
By and large, I think the wisest thing for us to do here is asset accumulation through the draft. Historically, this hasn’t been a free agent destination, and frankly, that’s fine with me. I think we don’t have to sell ourselves if the average NBA player who is a free agent that can’t see the passion in the state and EnergySolutions Arena [and] what we stand for as an execution, tough, serious club, then at some level, we don’t want them anyway.
And we’ll have to build our teams by other means, and I understood that getting into this job. And so, I’m very pleased at where we’re at. Do we have LeBron James or Kevin Durant right now, who are, in my opinion, the two best players in the league, you know, at the heights of their career? No.
But we can build it with a level of depth, that maybe that there’s not one central player, but there are several good players? I think Detroit is the most prominent model, to answer your question. I think Denver has done a very good recently of building a rotation of nine very serious, athletic players that they’re going to do some good things.
So there’s different models that you take, but really, you can’t be married to one. What we have to have is an asset base. We have to have flexibility, and then when those situations come up, that’s when we need to be bold and strike.
** Dennis Lindsey, Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine: So there’s different models that you take, but really, you can’t be married to one.
Why has San Antonio seen such a huge defensive improvement without personnel changes?
They don’t avoid the truth.
They were trending–we were trending, I should say–you know, the last few years, more toward an offensive club for a lot of different reasons. And there were some lineup choices that [Gregg] Pop[ovich] was making, you know, and he was choosing spacing around Tim [Duncan], Tony [Parker], and Manu [Ginobili] this year, that you see they’re playing Tiago Splitter more to start the game and playing Tim Duncan.
Last year, with the lockout season, we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare on what we called a “big, big lineup.” So Tiago Splitter [and] Tim Duncan would signify a “big, big lineup.” Many times you’d see big shooting big with a Matt Bonner big and four smalls.
And so, they also took a challenge in the off-season, the coaches and the players. Improving their pick-and-roll defense was a big initiative.
And there [in San Antonio], they meet problems head-on, and so I think they’ve over time, and self-analysis, and a lot of hard work, they’ve moved back to a top five defensive club, which is Pop’s general DNA, guys. And they’ve kept a very good offense.