AK talks free agency, time in Utah, Deron, Jimmer
KSL did a 15-minute sit-down with AK (not gonna lie; I cheered when I saw it). Best bits:
** [What did the Jazz tell you in the exit interview?] Definitely they want me back and it’s very nice that I feel I’m needed…if lockout happen, I might start the season in Russia playing for the Russian team. I don’t know when lockout gonna be over. If it goes like 1999, they start in February or March, it’s pretty tough for the players not to play for the half year and then jump right into the season. So I think it’s gonna be good idea to play in Russia.
** [How long do you think you have left in light of your age and injury history?] I think I have about 4 years left to play at the highest level. It can cost me my health; I get injured a lot, but if you don’t go 100%, you just lose the game.
** [Will the Jazz get a home team discount?] Definitely. I don’t think money gonna be an issue in this case…My kids going to school here. I have a house. We live here 10 years. It’s definitely going to be huge advantage for the Jazz and again, I wanna see what kind of is available, and kind of see around ’cause I’ve never been in this position so I wanna see what happen, but I want to tell you that the Jazz really have a priority for me.
** [The Jazz are rebuilding and there are other teams that are already contenders that are going to want you. How important is a championship to you?] I think it’s everybody’s dream in the NBA to win the title, but I would rather win the title here at the end of my career like being 15 years here, than just go to Lakers and win it right away or go to…the team who’s really contender. It’s not going to get the same feeling that you wanted.
** [Thoughts on the Jazz drafting Jimmer and how his game will translate to the NBA?] First of all, I wouldn’t even say about his basketball ability. I would say bringing him here, you gonna have a sellout every game. It’s gonna be really great for the fan community base…What about basketball? He’s playing 1,2 position; we always need a shooter. I was so, not mad, but I miss Kyle cuz there’s the guy coming off the bench and you know the guy gonna make the shot every time he’s open. Jimmer the same type of guy.
** Jerry vs. Ty: I can’t really and I don’t want to compare them as coach. They’re very different. It’s just different set of mind. Coach Sloan kind of push you every time and this kind of position you kind of nervous. Sometimes it help you so you challenge yourself every time. Coach Ty you have more freedom. You more relaxed and you feel like it’s safe but you have to work anyway. So it’s two different sides of the coin, but both works. … Coach Sloan, he loves young guys. He loves to work with them. He don’t want them to jump ahead of the train. When you have some freedom, that’s a good chance to let them jump ahead. Again, double side. I don’t know which side to pick.
** Jerry vs. Deron: (Coach Sloan)’s really great role model not only for the players, but for the coaches and for the fans how to really do things right and act right. I’m feeling little bit bad for Deron because he was kind of scapegoat in this situation. They make a villain out of him, but I don’t think he is.
** [Did the Deron trade make sense to you?] As a player, I wouldn’t trade him. I like Deron, he’s my very good friend and I would love to have him on the team…As a manager, I don’t know. If I know the player wants to leave, it’s kind of problem. But again, it’s pretty tough decision because if you do it in the middle of the season, you sacrifice the result.
** Ten years with the Jazz: I’m very grateful for all the years I been here, coming to America as a young kid, 20 years old, doesn’t know anything. Utah become my second home. For this moment, it’s really my first home because I’m not spending that much time in Russia anymore. I’m really here. My kids was born here, everything I learned, I learned from Utah Jazz, Coach Sloan, Kevin O’Connor, coaches who been around me. All the players. I learned from Karl and John, basketball-part. I learned how to live married life ’cause I get married and we become family here in Utah. And of course the biggest part of everything is the fans. The fans always been so great here, so appreciative, loyal and supportive. That’s what I’m going to miss if it’s my last days here.
** Message to the fans if this is the end: I definitely want to say thank you for all the good memories I have here. I have huge amount of memories, start with on the court and off the court. Everything that happens in my life happens here in Salt Lake City. All the fans been so great to me and I’m very, very grateful for that because such a loyalty, such a supporting cast behind all the Jazz players. Guys, you really have a special thing here.