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Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 9/8

September 9, 2014


What are you seeing from your players that are playing in the FIBA World Cup?
Yeah, yeah. So, Justin Zanik and I, we were able to make it over to Granada, Spain for a couple days. We saw Rudy [Gobert] and Raul [Neto], and then we spent another two days in Gran Canaria to see Australia and Dante [Exum] play. And so, as you would imagine, it, there, each guy’s at a much different stage of their career with the national team.

Dante’s always been kind of the premier guy on the U-17, U-18, U-19 teams. Even sometimes as a younger player, and now he’s getting his first introduction to the men’s national team.

And we really like the Australia program. We had a little bit of a relationship with them previously with my days in San Antonio, and they have a bunch of neat programs. They literally have a program on teaching their players how to be a mate, how to be a teammate. And all the protocols that young players have to go through in the NBA is somewhat similar to what Australian basketball institutionalizes. So, we’ve really appreciated that.

Dante is, we were in the lobby together and he was telling me he was, they had a roommate. So, for 31 straight days at this point in time, you know, he’s had a roommate in his room with him, who happens to be the team captain for the Australian national team [Joe Ingles]. So, he’s been indoctrinated, of, with playing against men, and the speed, the physicality.

One game a few games back, he was able to get 31 minutes and put some good marks on the board. When he played and when we saw him, it was much shorter minutes and he was able to create shot opportunities…We think he’s, has great character, and we look forward to helping him develop his talents over the next couple of years.

dante ingles tweet

With Rudy, he’s a year or two ahead of where Dante is, developmentally, being 22 years old, even though there’s a age, chronological gap there of 19 to 22. But Rudy’s able to, he’s been able, in the last year, to gain strength, and so his play early in the FIBA friendlies, if you will, was really prolific.

He had several double-doubles in big-minute games, but much like Dante, as some of the other players have come back to the national team, his role has been more of a backup the last few games. And he’s been very efficient, I think shooting close to 70 percent from the field. Been really good on the glass, and a great presence with his size and length.

And his frame of mind was really, you could see not only physical maturity, but mental maturity. And so, I think he’s made a compelling case to move from more of a situational player for us last year to an everyday player, and, but, you know, Quin [Snyder] has to make those decisions–Quin and his staff–going forward.

And then with Raul, Raul has, much like Dante, he was lucky enough to be part of a national team that, at 18, 19 years old, there’s not many point guards in Australia, or Brazil, that he’s had to experience not playing everyday, and, those early years, and now he’s moved into more of a, an every-game role.

And here at the last two games, I think the game before last, he had 14 and 10, and last game he had 21 points and shot 9 of 10 from the field, and we’re just thrilled with his work ethic and improvement, and we look forward to the day to bring him to the club.

Some people say, “Dante Exum was a high draft pick. Shouldn’t he be able to be dominant at a thing like the World Cup?”* Would you explain that to folks?
Yeah, yeah sure. Well, you know, look, Dante’s gonna have to play well. We picked him very early, and we expect that. But we didn’t draft Dante Exum to be the quickest contributor in the NBA. There were probably other players that we could’ve selected that would have made a, more of an immediate impact.

When we make draft decisions, there’s, sometimes you want to make a real conservative pick, if you will, and there’s other times where you want to take as much risk associated with the pick. And players are much like stocks, right? IPOs, the earlier you’re getting in, the more potential for return is. And with Dante, again, we made a pick based upon projections.

He just turned 19, so he’s either a, an old freshman this year, going into his freshman year in college, or a very young sophomore. But again, there’s world class speed, and length, and each stop along the way, when Dante’s played with his age group or an age group above, if you wanna go look at those stats, and his production has been just superior.

And so, again, I know you set this question up on the tee for me, but I’m more concerned about how Dante Exum’s going to perform at 24, 25, 26 than I am [at] 19 or 20. Now, if we’re, of course you have to live in the years of 19 and 20 to get those maturity years going forward, but we look forward to the journey with him.

And we just got a letter from his national team coach, Andrej Lemanis. He’s an excellent coach, and the letter was very positive about [Exum’s] talent and his skill level and his approach and all the things. We just gotta help him develop the gifts, so it, again, it was a long-term play.

* I want to say I can’t believe there are people out there that think like this…but sadly we all know better.

Which FIBA rules would you like to see implemented in the NBA?
I think a great thing, if we could ever figure it out–and look, TV money pays all of our salaries, right? That’s the reason why we have jobs, is because the media are associated with television. But I think if we could learn from international basketball where there’s no live ball timeouts, to keep the flow going.*

I think it’s the one lesson we can learn from soccer. It’s not really scoring that makes European football the world’s most popular sport. It’s continuous action.** And I just remember, maybe it’s me being an old fogey, but back in the ’86, ’87, ’88, and the Celtics-Lakers, and that Laker team that could go on that 27-4 run, and there wasn’t as many TV timeouts. There wasn’t as many coaching timeouts, so you could get that uninterrupted action.

I, so when you go and see a basketball game in Europe, the game is not as athletic, but the game flows better because there’s less timeouts, there’s less TV timeouts.*** One of my pet peeves in college basketball…is that situation where there’s a timeout, there’s a possession back and forth, and then there’s another TV timeout. And why we as fans put up with that situation, it makes our game less watchable.****

So I really believe in continuous action, so if we could eliminate a timeout and figure out a way for our TV partners to still sell ads, you know, where they’re going to want to sponsor our game, it would be good for all parties involved.***** …

There’s that phenomenon in every sport, where what may be good for you to win the strategy, or win the game around strategy in that particular game, it may make it bad for the fans to come watch it. So are you really defeating the purpose at the end of the day?

* YES!
** YES!
**** SO MUCH THIS!!!!!!!
***** #UDQM me and Lindsey (“continuous action”) all you want, but the man is speaking truth.

Can you give an update on Enes Kanter’s knee?
Enes has responded very favorably. We’ve been really conservative, per doctor’s and physical therapist’s orders, and we wanted to not skip steps with him and not get really impatient. I, Enes is in town and I just had that conversation. He’s very fit. He looks good. He’s obviously spent his time and worked very well the last few weeks to get in basketball shape.

We had some contact [training] today…but we’re not gonna let him transition for awhile. He’s not ready to go up and down and transition and still handle contact. So we’re gonna stagger that in, but, so we’re very pleased with where he’s at, and we think we have plenty of time from today’s date all the way to the end of training camp and into the preseason to get him ready for an NBA basketball game.

So, hopefully we won’t have any hurdles along the way that would slow us up, so, but he’s done well.

Are you any closer to figuring out if Kanter, Derrick Favors and even Rudy Gobert can play together?
Look, there, Derrick just turned 23. Enes is 22. Rudy just turned 22, and again, we’re f–I think at this stage in, of our evolution, when we went with a rebuild, it’s more about talent accumulation, and then we’re gonna have to figure out fit a little bit farther down the line.

Now, with that said, I do think Enes and Derrick can play together. Enes can really shoot the ball on the perimeter. Derrick had a great year last season rolling to the paint, and finishing and being really efficient.

I do think Derrick is r–working really hard to develop “four” skills, if you will, that would allow him in concept to play with Rudy. And look, there’s other players that we could have now that we haven’t had in the past that we could bring to the equation that would allow Rudy and Derrick to play together. So, I do think it’s possible…

You interject new coaches into the equation, new philosophies, and how guys fit and don’t fit. I think it’s really, at the end of the day when you wrap everything up, way premature to, for me to tell you how one seed’s gonna grow and another’s not…I think we’re still probably a year or so away from making those determinations.

Can you talk about Toure’ Murry?
So, another young player that has some defensive length. He’s a high-character player. He was a very good player at Witchita State. We have a lot of respect for the Witchita State program, and how they defend and how serious they are as a group, and so Toure’* came out of that program. Had to work his way up to the D-League. He got short minutes with the Knicks last year, but when he played, he played well.

We really like his length. He’s a guard that has had to convert to a point guard, but we do think his size and length is complementary to Trey [Burke], and we think his experience could be complementary to Dante. And just another good, young prospect that we want to take a long look at. (1280)

* Lindsey pronounced Toure’ “tor-RAY.”



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