Locker Room Cleanout Part 2: Richard Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Diante Garrett, Ian Clark and Erik Murphy
** Talk about your experience playing for Tyrone Corbin.
I had a great experience. He’s a veteran guy, a veteran coach. And he knows–what I mean “veteran coach,” he’s a coach of veterans. Like, he knows how to coach guys that have been in this league a little bit, and I give him, you know, so much credit for my success on the court, and him helping me and just kinda talking me through some different things. But I just, I owe a lot to him and the organization, and we’ll see what happens this summer.
** Would you agree that the deck was loaded against Corbin this season?
No. I wouldn’t say that. I think coach knew what, you know, very rarely do you know what cards you’re gonna be given, and he knew what cards he was gonna be given. He knew he was gonna be given just a few vets and a lot of young guys that they were planning on playing. I think, you know, it’d be different if they were, you know, trades or something that happened in the middle of the season, but for the most part, he knew the group that he was gonna have. He knew his job was to get these guys playing time and get these guys experience, and he did a great job of that.
** You reached your goal of playing 82 games.
Our assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, who, you know, was so instrumental in my success this year. Right before, ’cause I was coming off the bench, right before I checked in, he looked at me and he’s like, “Got all 82.” And I was like, “Yes. Yes, we did.”
** Were you cool with your move to the bench at the end of the season?
Yeah, of course…Alec [Burks] has all the ability in the world to be a starter in this league, and I think coach just wanted that veteran presence in there. So it wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t, you know, my job or anything. I think it was just kinda how the coaches wanted to go. And he was amazing coming off the bench for that second unit…They wanted to see him against some starting 2-guards, and you know, coming off, because it’s a different focus.
** Do you think Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter can successfully co-exist in the frontcourt?
Yeah, it takes time. It’s not for lack of talent. Just had a long conversation with Enes Kantor* and he believes that offense is more important than defense. And yes, I’m telling that to the media ’cause those are his own words. Not saying he says they’re equally important, but he says in the playoffs, you need, you know, good offensive players. And I was like, “You will not find a high-level championship team that doesn’t know how to get stops in the last five minutes of the game. And that’s defense.” I think Enes is a talented, talented player and he’s a young player that has a bright future in this league. But he just needs to continue to work on his defense. And I say that in a playful way. It’s not in a critical way, ’cause we’ve had a conversation for the last two days, like, arguments. Me, Marvin, him on what is important. And you know, we’re still trying to get that in his head, that you know, and his defense has improved. I’ll give him that. But that needs to be a focus for him.
** What’s your plan for next season?
I have no idea, and it’s tough. I’ve never been a free agent in 13 years…so this is something that I’m gonna really take the time and find out. I know that if I were to ha–if I were to, you know, go to a rebuilding situation again, this would be probably No. 1 on my list because we have such good guys. I know the organization. I’ve enjoyed the city of Salt Lake.
Aren’t you going ring-hunting?
I know I want to, but it’s just like…you can go out deer hunting. Doesn’t mean that you’re gonna get a deer. You know, you can go out looking for bucks, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna pull one in. Just means you’re just sitting in the trees waiting and waiting and waiting, and all of a sudden eight hours go by and nothing happens. So, you know, that’s the way. That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.
* People calling Enes Kanter “Enes Kantor”: Richard Jefferson.
** How do you think you did in showing people what you can do?
I think I did very good. You know, I think I proved a lot of people wrong, and you know, I showed what I can do on the offensive end, showed the type of player I can be. You know, and I think I did good.
** Do you want Tyrone Corbin back?
I don’t mind. You know, I think Ty’s a great coach. And I think he’s a great person, you know, but [it's up to] the front office.
** You’ve always said you’re a power forward and not a center. How do you feel about having played center for an entire season?
You know, it’s kinda tough, man, ’cause you know, the centers, they, it’s a different world playing the center position ’cause every night, you’re going up against a guy who’s, like, 7-foot, 280, 290 [lbs.] or whatever, and strong as hell…It’s different, and the power forward, you know, you might have a stretch four one night, then you might have a banging four. So you still don’t have to bang every night against the power forward, but the center, you know, just constantly banging. So you know, I gotta, this summer I gotta go through my workouts a little differently if Imma have to play center.
** Who will you work out with this summer and where?
I’ll be in Atlanta. You know, I play pick-up and all that stuff down there. But I’ll be in Salt Lake City a lot more this summer, you know, working out with the coaches and just working out with the strength and conditioning guys. Go to Santa Barbara, work out there. So I’ll be everywhere, really.
** Will you be going anywhere on vacation?
I’m still thinking if I wanna go somewhere, but you know, mainly during the summer I just go back to Atlanta, see my family, see my friends, man, and you know, have fun down there. But my girlfriend wanna do something this year. She’s tired of going to Atlanta. I don’t mind going to Atlanta, but she tired of going to Atlanta. So I have to do something.
** Do you feel like you belong in the NBA yet?
I feel like I’m still hungry. I still got a lot to prove so I can, you know, solidify myself all the way into the NBA. I feel like I got some strides to make, and I’m gonna work very hard this summer so I can make ‘em.
** What was this year about for you?
Personally, I think I came in and I did what I had to do, and coulda got, coulda did a lot better. I think I did a pretty good job, though. Came in, brung some energy to the team, some confidence. And just did whatever I had to do to help the team. I think I did a pretty good job with it.
** What was the highlight of your season?
When I first checked in and hit that first shot. Probably won’t ever forget that one, ’cause that day actually was, I had a lot to do that day with the physicals, coming in, learning the plays, and we had a game. And it was the NBA game, and I was coming in off the bench right away, and I made that first shot, and I seen, like, all the fans and everybody, you know, have my back when I made that first shot, and cheering me on. So, it w–it felt good.
** What are your summer plans?
I’ll probably end up playing summer league with the guys…Just being in the gym, really. Imma be back home. I got a couple of guys that play in the NBA now–Wes Matthews and Dwight Buycks–all those guys’ll be in Milwaukee too. So we’re gonna get a chance to work out and get it in.
** What did they tell you to work on in your exit interview?
Ball-handling. Being able to set the offense up. Being able to come off the ball…Most of all, it’s getting stronger and making the right reads.
** Is the team option something you’re worrying about right now?
Can’t worry about it. It’s out of my control. I can only deal with it, I can only control what I can, it’s just getting better. So, I mean, however things pan out later on, is how they pan out.
** On maintaining perspective
My mindset is the same as last year. Getting back to summer league, and kind of having to prove myself all over again…I feel like I [belong]. I really do. And especially, after this season, I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned a lot. So I think that’ll help me, down the road.
** Did they give you anything specific to work on this summer?
Just, you know, continue to shoot the ball well. You know, I’m gonna try to get a little quicker. But you know, not, other than that, not much else. And I think, you know, just looking forward to summer league and playing with them and getting out there.
** They’re clearly investing in you by picking you up before the end of the season.
Yeah, I mean, that sounds good. Yeah, you know, I think, you know, I do something, I’m a big guy that can stretch the floor and shoot the ball, and you know, I think that’s, there’s more and more of that becoming relevant in the league right now. And you know, I think they just saw that and you know, wanted to have me around, and especially for the summer and just see where it goes from there.