Interview With Donnie Walsh

Before the 11/6/09 Cleveland game I was able to ask Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh a few questions.

Mike Kurylo It seems like the team is struggling from three, except for Gallinari. In the preseason you had a few guys like Joe Crawford and Morris Almond who could knock down the three…

Mike D’Antoni Morris Almond was never in the preseason… He was in the summer league.

Mike Kurylo I’m sorry you’re right summer league. Are there any thought of bringing in another shooting guard?

Mike D’Antoni No.

Mike Kurylo Do you …

Donnie Walsh Where are you from?

Mike Kurylo KnickerBlogger.Net. It seems that there are a lot of guys that are free agents at the end of the year on your own team. So just by chance you may have a lot of roster spots open.

Donnie Walsh You’re wrong.

Mike Kurylo OK. I’m sorry for assuming.

Donnie Walsh That’s what’s happening. You’re writing what you think. I like the players on my own team.

Mike Kurylo But it seems that by chance some guys will just sign with another team. For instance if you have 7 free agents, it’s possible that you may only be able to resign 3 or 4. So I was wondering if you were looking at other avenues of signing players.

Donnie Walsh Of course.

Mike Kurylo Where are you looking? Are you looking in the D-League or in Europe?

Donnie Walsh All of the above.

Mike Kurylo How do stats fit into the picture with your scouting? Do you use them half and half or do you rely mostly on scouting?

Donnie Walsh I umm… [to Larry Johnson] Hey Larry how are you? It’s good to have you here.

LJ: Look at you always working.

Mike Kurylo So my question is: How do stats fit into the picture?

Donnie Walsh I don’t know quite what you mean. Am I impressed at how many point a guy scores per game? No.

Mike Kurylo How about other stats like …

Donnie Walsh If a guy is averaging 30 points per game and a scout calls me up and says this guy is the real deal, then I’ll go watch him.

Mike Kurylo What stats are you looking at? Are you looking at true shooting percentage and any of the newer stats?

Donnie Walsh Of course we’ve got all of that.

Mike Kurylo Are you familiar with John Hollinger or Dave Berri…

Donnie Walsh I’m not overly impressed if his true shooting percentage [is X] and that means something. It’s part of the picture.

Mike Kurylo I’m a big stat guy and I feel like in baseball that 80-90 percent of a player’s value is captured in stats, in my opinion. But in basketball it doesn’t seem to be as reliable.

Donnie Walsh Because basketball is a 5-man game that has to be played together. You’re not just getting [up to the plate] to hit a baseball.

Mike Kurylo Basketball is not a one-on-one game. And the defensive stats in basketball, blocks and steals, just don’t cover what happens on that end. Someone like Bruce Bowen…

Donnie Walsh You know it’s very difficult to [quantify this]. Coaches try to do it. They come up with deflections and challenges and different stats to determine who is doing a good job defensively. But you can see that by watching. You’re right. A guy that blocks shots may be good or bad [defensively].

[Inaudible due to loud music – but Donnie and I talked about a defensive scoresheet.]

Donnie Walsh Look I don’t think gut instinct is foolproof and I don’t think stats are foolproof. I think a combination of different things [are best.] We do a lot of checking and try to get as good picture we can of the guy.

2009 Toney Douglas Pre-Camp Interview

I sat down with Toney Douglas on 9/28/09 for about 2 minutes and 37 seconds, and he was kind enough to answer my questions.

Mike Kurylo: What position do you see yourself in the NBA, point guard, shooting guard or combo guard? 2009-interview-toney-douglas

Toney Douglas: Point guard.

Mike Kurylo: What did you learn about the NBA from playing in the summer league?

Toney Douglas: In college there is a lot of help defense, but in the NBA [things are] more spaced out. One mistake and [you’ve given up a] bucket. I feel like in college you can just go fast [all the time], but in the NBA you have to pick & choose when to go fast.

Mike Kurylo: What would you say is your greatest asset or skill?

Toney Douglas: I feel like I’m able to run a team at the point guard position. I’m also able to score the ball. Whatever my coach asks me to do, I’m able to do [which will] make my teammates better. On the defensive end, I’m able to get in the passing lane. I’ve always had a knack for defense, and I feel I can change the game.

Mike Kurylo: How do you get better on defense and practice defense?

Toney Douglas: You have to practice it in practice, and you always have to stay in your stance. In the NBA, you lock your knees out or one mistake, it’s over. You always have to be aware of what’s going on if you’re on the ball or off the ball.

Mike Kurylo: From what I saw in the summer league your passing looked really good, but it looked like you had a hard time finding your shot. What was wrong in the summer league, were you off or did you have a couple of bad games?

Toney Douglas: I feel like my shot will be just fine, it was just summer league. I’m not worried about that and my coaches and my teammates are not worried about that. Since I’ve been here [training with the team] I’ve been just fine. It was just one of those weeks.

Mike Kurylo: Did you feel comfortable passing the ball playing with new teammates?

Toney Douglas: Most definitely I felt comfortable. One thing you have to be as the point guard and leader of the team you have to make everybody else feel comfortable by knowing what they can and can’t do.

Mike Kurylo: Which of your new teammates are you looking forward to playing alongside with?

Toney Douglas: Well, well, ummm, Jared [Jeffries], Chris [Duhon], Nate [Robinson], Gallo, all of them. I’m really looking forward to playing with them in the type of system we have.

2009 Jordan Hill Pre-Camp Interview

I sat down with Jordan Hill on 9/28/09 for about 3 minutes and 26 seconds, and he was kind enough to answer my questions.

Mike Kurylo: What position do you see yourself playing in the NBA, power forward, center or a little bit of both? 2009-interview-jordan-hill

Jordan Hill: It really doesn’t matter. I see myself as a power forward, but it really doesn’t matter. Whatever the team needs me to be, at I have to go out there and make the best of it.

Mike Kurylo: What did you learn about adjusting to the NBA from summer league?

Jordan Hill: D’Antoni’s system is up & down and I was definitely out of shape during the summer league. I’ve been working really hard to get back in shape, and now I’m there.

Mike Kurylo: How do you get in shape in the offseason?

Jordan Hill: Definitely you have to eat right, I’ve been running hills, running on the football field, sweating more, lifting weights, doing the things that you should do to get in shape.

Mike Kurylo: Do you have a personal trainer, do you go to a gym, or …

Jordan Hill: No, I know what to do. I do everything myself. During the summer I worked out with [one of the Knick trainers] who helped a lot. And I listened to the trainers in here, and they helped me out tremendously.

Mike Kurylo: Which of your teammates are you looking forward to playing alongside with?

Jordan Hill: Umm… Chris Duhon…(laughs)

Mike Kurylo: Because he’s going to get you the ball?

Jordan Hill: Exactly.

Mike Kurylo: What is your best asset or skill as a player?

Jordan Hill: Probably rebounding. I try to stay focused on rebounding. I know I can score at will, but it’s better to get that extra rebound when your team needs it. I love rebounding and fighting hard [for one].

Mike Kurylo: How do you see yourself fitting in with the frontcourt here? There are a lot of guys this year. Is there a friendly competition playing for minutes?

Jordan Hill: It’s good. It’s real fun [competing] because they’re definitely good players. I just want to come out here and learn from them. They’ve been here, they know the system. I just want to take their advice and learn more about the game.

Mike Kurylo: What part of D’Antoni’s offense, that you’ve seen in practice or in the summer league, do you like best?

Jordan Hill: Probably the pick & rolls and the up & down game. I love the pick & roll. I can pick & pop and shoot the easy mid range shot, which has gotten a whole lot better. Or I can pick & roll and get the easy dunk. I just have to look at the defense, and know what [my role is].

2009 David Lee Pre-Camp Interview


I sat down with David Lee for about 3 minutes and 12 seconds, and he was kind enough to answer my questions.

Mike Kurylo: It’s no secret that you’ve been taking a lot more jumpers as your career has progressed, and it’s been reported that you work a lot on it in the off season. What exactly do you do in the off season to work on it? Are you working on it alone?

David Lee: I work with a lot of our coaches. Our assistant coaches have taken a special interest in continuing to improve my jumper, and I think it’s at the point now that mechanically it’s where it needs to be. Now it’s just the matter of getting used to shooting it in the game with confidence. That’s a big thing, plenty of shooters have that mentality.

Mike Kurylo: Was there a certain aspect of your jumper that you had to correct? Something that you worked on a lot?

David Lee: Yeah, when I got here – mechanically it wasn’t a sound shot. At times my elbow would come out or something like that. At different times I was [mechanically unsound]. But now it’s at the point that it’s just staying on balance and just shooting through the ball.

Mike Kurylo: It seems that you have a much more diverse offensive game these days, but you still have that label of being a blue collar guy. Do you think that [label] is a bit unfair at this point in your career?

David Lee: No it’s not unfair, but I think in this system it’s defined that I’m going to work a lot out of the pick & roll and be asked to finish inside and hit 15 foot jumpshots. Also last year I was at the top of the key a lot making plays for other guys. And that’s something you’re going to see a lot more this year – is me handling the ball more and making more plays. That’s something that I enjoy doing and I think that I can help us and be a lot more diverse on offense this year.

Mike Kurylo: How do you feel going 1-1 against someone? Are you pretty confidant…

David Lee: Well that’s something that in the NBA that just takes a little bit of experience. Some guys come into the NBA used to doing that and I didn’t do a lot of that in college. So I picked that up the last couple of years and I’m happy to have gotten better at it. I feel real comfortable now isolated with my back to the basket or facing up.

Mike Kurylo: One last question, what can you do [to improve your] defense? How can you practice that?

David Lee: Well the biggest thing is to get better. I’m going to do a lot more this year at working on scouting reports. A lot of times I’m guarding guys that are 50 lbs heavier & 5 inches [taller] so really I have to use what I know about them and their [tendencies], and just try to have them play to their weaknesses. Because you’re not going to stop guys like the Dwight Howards of the NBA, you have to keep them from really hurting your team.

Mike Kurylo: Sorry one more question, there’s a lot more front court depth this year especially at center, do you think you’ll be playing a lot more PF this year along those guys?

David Lee: I don’t know about a lot more, but I think I’ll get more time at the PF. Hopefully Darko [Milicic] and Eddy [Curry] can give us a boost there as well as Jordan Hill and I’ll be able to play power forward and get some much needed rest from the 5.