Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 4/23 (Part 1 of 2)
How will you measure and weigh chemistry in making off-season decisions?
We’ve let good players that have potentially come our way via the draft and free agency and trade go away because they’re just not the right DNA for the organization…
I think we have a good handle on what fits here from a mentality standpoint, from a work ethic standpoint. And, so that, I was making a speech yesterday, and that deselection process is very important. You know, the, some of the best businesses in the world, in my opinion, are very high-minded on deselecting players and staying away from potential trouble.
When did you realize you had something in Rudy Gobert, that it was no longer just potential?
You know, there were signs along the way. The first time I rea–besides the draft workout, and we saw some things when we went over to see him in France, and so, there, he was unique, right? It doesn’t take a basketball expert to say, see, you know, his dimensions say “whoa.”
But I think the first preseason game, or not the first, but the preseason game in Anaheim versus the Lakers…Even though it was a preseason game, it took me aback a little bit. He had great minutes.
People don’t realize this, but he and Hassan Whiteside both had great minutes in the D-League: Hassan this year; Rudy last year. And there were minutes that, at least statistically, were so dominating that, you know, if you’re paying attention to the analytics and advanced stats, that it’d be like, whoa. You know, if he’s able to pull together two-thirds of his production that he’s had on the, in the D-League, he could impact in a big way. So you know, I’ve looked at a few spreadsheets over the years, and I knew that that was unusual, or our group knew that that was unusual.
And then of course, the start of the off-season with our summer league. He wasn’t, he didn’t perform good in the summer league. He was great. And the thing that made me personally anxious is every time he was off the floor, I felt nekkid defensively. It just didn’t feel the same. The group didn’t feel the same. And you put Rudy back in, and all of a sudden, the game got much more imposing for our opponents, in, and, how they were coming at us.
And then of course, you know, everybody talked about the World Championships and his role with France. And you know, we’ve, we’re lucky. Look, it’s, you don’t get guys at 22 years old with these dimensions that have a, has a really high care factor, that use themself as, “Hey, you know, I’m a defensive player or I’m big brother, and you know, build this thing around me,” that really is willing to contribute without the ball.
There’s only so many possessions in an, inside an NBA game, so when you got a guy like Mark Eaton or Rudy Gorbert* that says “Hey, I’m gonna take care of the things that a lot of average NBA players don’t wanna take care of,” then you have something that you can build around.
* Not a typo
Because you are so young, are you more inclined to trade this year’s draft picks?
I think certainly we have to be mindful of where the team moved the last third of the season, and look at those opportunities. We would’ve looked at those opportunities anyway, even if we, let’s just say, improved to 30 wins. But I think we definitely have to look to see if there’s something that can accelerate the process.
But I’m also a little greedy too. I’ve got a coaching staff that is very good with young players. That’s why we hired Quin. That’s why we set up the staff the way we did, and they’ve been able to advance a few young guys well beyond their years of experience.
So again, I think we have an advantage there, an inherent advantage. So all of a sudden, [if] we do have a young prospect that we really like, I think the ace is the hole is, is that we have a coach that can accelerate his growth, who’s willing to play him.* And so, I don’t wanna give up that prematurely just ’cause we have an idea that we need a vet.
* Emphasis mine
When might Ante Tomic and Raul Neto come over?
It’s very unusual that you have a set of bigs that we’ve had — some bigs that, frankly, predated me. And so, we could never really activate that asset and have serious conversations, just ’cause we had several centers, and Ante is a stone-cold “five.” But he’s someone that I really appreciated over the year — over the years, I should say.
He’s really improved, and Quin’s experience in the Euroleague, when he was in Moscow one year with Ettore Messina, he got to see a lot of these players which is a huge advantage for us, because he knew Joe Ingles. You know, as soon as Joe got waived, you know, he had corporate knowledge — they had coffee together in a lobby in Europe, and he knew that [Ingles] could fit the culture that we’re trying to build.
And the same thing with Ante. You know, immediately, he, Quin knew we had his rights before he ever took the job, and he was very excited about Ante, his size at 7-2, and his unique passing skills. And so, there are some things that are very intriguing, and we hope to have some serious dialogue going forward, and you never know.
But certainly with how we’ve positioned the team, we’d have a chance to activate that asset that we’ve never had before.
Raul is Raul. He’s, plays with great energy. Even though he’s a little undersized, he’s an excellent defender already. Very good lateral movement. He plays with great imagination. He’s a pass-first guy.
He didn’t shoot the ball so far this year with his club team as well as he shot the ball this summer with Brazil, but he’s someone that we’re very excited about moving forward. And we don’t know what that means relative to this year or future seasons, but again, we think he’s, you know, he’s a good player that could fit our group. (1280)
** Dennis Lindsey on talking about Ante Tomic, Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine: I don’t wanna get too deep, ’cause I wanna respect him.