Bits from Kevin O’Connor Interview, 5/2
Interesting that KOC went on ESPN 700, which he rarely does, to refute the “stepping down” report…
Are you stepping down?
I got a phone call and [they] said, “Are you stepping down?” And I thought, well, I don’t think so, no. And then I thought, I better not comment. Maybe they changed the locks on the door on me. I didn’t know.
But no. I don’t, again, I think when you see me at all the draft work[out]s, and you see me at the draft, and you see me at free agency, and you’ll see me at the, at training camp, and at the season, and I think you’ll understand that I didn’t step down…
Again, I, I’m disappointed that it came out, you know, all the things that came out like it did. And you know, to me, “stepping down” means I’m resigning, I’m retiring, or whatever. And that’s not the case…
[The house that was sold] certainly wasn’t a mansion and it certainly wasn’t, you know, something that was newsworthy, but you know, we did sell it. We are renting right now, and looking to decide what we want to do. Do we want to continue to [rent], but I, you know, again, and then I read where I was going–North Carolina–and it’s actually South Carolina where the place is, and then I read where, you know, I was gonna be close to Belmont Abbey, which I wouldn’t be…
So I think it was pretty inaccurate all the way around, to be honest.
Is this the most monumental off-season since you’ve been with the Jazz?
Well, there was a guy named [Karl] Malone and [John] Stockton, and they left in the same year. Now, I would have to say that probably in the next millenium there might not be a bigger year than that year.
And I thought we’d probably get the first or second or third pick in the draft for sure, and Jerry [Sloan] screwed us and won about 42 games, if I remember correctly…He just tried to win every game and he did, and so we wound up with the 14th pick…I’ll say this is a very big summer, but I think that one was monumental.
How things have changed from being able to accept rebuilding and expecting a high draft pick to “re-tooling” and remaining playoff-competitive…
What does Salt Lake City have to offer to free agents?
You know, you look at Salt Lake and you say it’s not close to the, you know, ocean and it’s cold and there’s a lot of cities that are like that in our league. So what you look at, when I think about it, is, you look at our practice facility, you look at the school systems, you look at how easy it is to commute and get to where you need to get to.
And most of all, you look at our building. And most nights, you see 17[,000] and 19,000 people sitting in there and rooting like crazy for us…There’s a reason we play well at home, and it’s those fans that are in the building that help us…[In other arenas], you could throw a hand grenade in one of the sections and not hurt anybody, ’cause there’s nobody there. I think it’s a plus.
Has the perception of Salt Lake City improved among NBA players since the late 90s?
Let me just go back. We put an offer sheet on Jason Terry and Corey Maggette at a number that we felt was reasonable. They accepted the offer sheets. So they were two guys that wanted to come.
And they were reasonable offers. I mean, it wasn’t like we were way overpaying. And that’s at Corey really played above his contract, and so did Jason for the three years that he, that he was, that we would’ve had him under contract.
They were matched, so obviously the team thought, valued them enough to match the contract. But again, those were two guys that wanted to come.
The next year, we were able, there was a little bit of a loophole, which they’ve closed, we were able to sign [Carlos] Boozer amd [Mehmet] Okur, as free agents. And they wanted to come.
Do you go after big names, or are they not worth your time?
Let me just give you, let me go back and give you one…Shaq[uille O’Neal] said no to us. But we made him say no. You know, it wasn’t like we didn’t make the phone call.
[What year was that?]
Oh, God. I’m trying to remember. When he left L.A. and went to…[Was it Miami?] I don’t even remember. Yeah. I can’t remember exactly what year it was, but you know, we had enough money and we made the phone call.
And [his agent] said, “You know, we’re probably looking at a warm weather city,” and I said, “Well, you know, we have an ability to get a lot of heavy coats up here.”
On Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap
Here’s what happens: The minute you figure out that something, some team can’t do something, they’ll wind up doing it.
Example: When they, Portland had LaMarcus Aldridge and signed Paul to an offer sheet. You know, that one I never saw coming and didn’t get a feel for it. And so, “it only takes one” is our comment around here.
And both Al and Paul, and especially those two, ’cause we actually traded for Mo [Williams], but those two guys really did an incredible job of playing the game of basketball, not playing pressed to try and you know, explain what their motives were.
I think they cared about the team, I think they cared about who, trying to make the playoffs. They could’ve been more of a distraction, a lot more of a distraction than they were, because they were obviously our two leading scorers. So give them both kudos for doing that, and you know, that says a lot about who you want back, because they could’ve, their character showed in a tough time for them.
Overall take on Tyrone Corbin this season
Well, I don’t think he gets enough credit for knowing, I think we had nine, I think we had a total of nine free agents now, I think that’s about right, but maybe I, whatever it is. …
And I thought he did an incredible job maintaining, you know, great discipline in the locker room. You know, we went 10-3 down the stretch trying to make the playoffs. He did all of the things that we needed done.
And you know, I think he put another star next to his name as far as some of those things go. And we talked about in the off-season, we gotta try and do a better job defensively, we gotta try and do a better job in the fourth quarter, we gotta try and do a better job closing out games.
And he’s his toughest cri–he’s the toughest critic he’s got, you know? He’s, he beats himself up pretty good about it, but I think as you put a microphone in front of him, and you felt a guy with character, and you felt a guy with class, and you felt, we feel a guy that’s growing every year in his job.
On Marvin Williams, and player and team options
I think you’ll find from [Marvin’s agent], that he’ll let us know a day or two days before, maybe even before that, about whether Marvin’s coming back or not, and you know, those are decisions that he makes, and you know, to be fair to Marvin, if he does it on the 30th, that’s within his rights.
And you know, we do that with players about picking up their option, and everything else, ’cause God forbid one of ’em gets hurt, or you know, I always talk about the Jay Williams thing, you know, with the motorcycle accident.
You know, you always worry that you pick up somebody’s option a week before you’re supposed to or a week before you have to, and somebody gets hurt and you go, “Why did I do that?”…
My sense is that, you know, we’ve gotta get more out of [Marvin]. He wants to get more out of himself. He’s a class guy and a wonderful guy, and I think we’ll be better off and better served having him back ’cause I think he’ll have a good year for us next year.
How did you and Dennis Lindsey work together in the first year?
You know, I appreciate the question and I would tell you this, that we wish we’d done it two or three years earlier, to be honest with you. It was, it’s worked out wonderfully and you know, I feel like we’ve hit a home run with Dennis.
And he’s gonna be able to do a lot of things, and we’re gonna be a, hopefully, able to do a lot of things together, as far as that goes. But it’s worked out, it’s been terrific. We knew what his DNA was coming from Yuston [Houston] and working for Carroll Dawson, and working for R.C. Buford in San Antonio. And he brings a style. Besides, he speaks a lot better than I do, so you’ll be able to appreciate that.
Do the Jazz have an untouchable player?
I don’t think so. You know, I don’t feel as though there’s anything that’s untouchable. (KALL)