Wolves signed Ramon Sessions. Your take?
Andrew Bogut: He’s got a great contract in Minnesota. We wish him all the best, but I think with the point guards we have in our roster now, it would be tough to find minutes for all four with a fourth point guard.
Well, the Bucks can still match the offer.
AB: We have time to match but I don’t see it, honestly. Well you never know, we could make a trade. I’m not saying we are going to do that, but you never know in the NBA.
Everybody asks about your back.
AB: It’s looking good. Now I’m doing a lot of weight training, a lot of running… Some basketball work. Once the contact starts we’ll se how it goes.
How was the experience of having trainer Marc Boff in Australia along with strength and conditioning coach Jeff Macy?
AB: They made sure I was doing the right things. It was just more of making sure that I’m working out and not just sitting on the beach drinking beer (laughs).
Were you a good tourist guide?
AB: Of course, we went to an Australian football game, they saw the kangaroos and stuff like that.
In order to not get injured in the back again, have you been told to slim down, bulk up, stay put…?
AB: Weight will not be an issue for me. I’ve never really been overweight, it was just more a matter of getting my core, my glutes, my hips, getting evertything around my back strong as I can so my back doesn’t take as much pounding. Basically, the key message is to get everything strong around my back.
Are you going to do special exercises to protect your back once you start playing again?
AB: I’m doing it now: a lot of Pilates , a lot of abs…
How do you feel going into the season without Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva and possibly Ramon Sessions?
AB: I can say that I was prepared for that. When we had a meeting at the end of the season John Hammond let me know that we were going to make some changes. “Some might shock you, some might not”, he said. So it wasn’t like the season before. I think we’re just trying to create some financial stability with the economy the way it is and the salary cap being lowered. We are trying to free up some room for the future. We had a team that was pretty good on paper last year but still we couldn’t achieve a playoff run.
You said in that interview “Didn’t speak to anybody within the Bucks, I read it on HoopsHype, actually, believe it or not, with my morning coffee before practice one day.”
AB: The problem was that I was in Australia, so I’m guessing they tried to call me, the time difference, the phone numbers… It wasn’t like I was in Milwaukee where they could just reach out and give me a phone call… I was in Beijing at the Olympics, I think. They only had the e-mail to find me so I wasn’t disappointed by it or anything, it was more that I didn’t expect the Yi trade after only one season.
Do you expect to be more in touch with GM John Hammond about the options of adding new pieces to the roster in order to improve the team?
AB: I was in town during the summer when they traded Richard Jefferson and John called me before it got announced. So he’s been pretty good about letting me know about some decisions, but at the same time you don’t want to let everybody know everything because sometimes certain trades don’t go through for whatever reason.
Let’s move on and talk about the new guys. Now there’s more international flavor in Milwaukee. Do you like it?
AB: Yeah, I think it’s good for me, I’m an international player too. Delfino is a winner, he knows how to play the game and he will bring some toughness to our team. Ukic obviously hasn’t had the opportunity to play too much in Toronto so I know he’s very eager to prove himself in Milwaukee. He’s a pretty good friend of mine. I played with Ilyasova my first two years; when he came to the NBA he was very young, very skinny. I heard he’s improved a lot and I know his dream was to be back; his wife is actually from Milwaukee. And we already have Elson, Gadzuric and Mbah a Moute.
What about Brandon Jennings?
AB: I’ve been working out with him the whole week. He’s a very good ballhandler, very smart point guard and very athletic. He brings energy everyday but obviously he’s young. He’s gotta have good times and bad times in his rookie year, but I think he’s going to be a great player in the NBA.
This season your new five-year contract kicks in. Milwaukee is clearly counting on you to be the leader of this team.
AB: I tried to make that adjustment last year but I got injured. I’m definitely ready to become more vocal, offensively, defensively, in the locker room. The team has invested a lot into me so I’ll try to step up in every way, not just points and rebounds. I need to lead by example on and off the floor .
But the feeling out there is that what it really counts is getting better stats.
AB: With all these fantasy basketball leagues, a lot of people are just worried about stats. It would be nice to average 20 points and 10 rebounds, but I’d much rather make the playoffs and one day go for the championship if that means averaging five points. I would be happy to do that. In saying that, the team wants me to be better offensively and defensively. I definitely need to get better in those aspects but like I said, if I’m averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds and we are winning games it doesn’t really matter.
Have you talked with Coach Skiles about your role in this team next season?
AB: The coaching staff want me to have the confidence of getting the ball inside and making quick decisions. Last year a lot of the times I was indecisive whether I was shooting or passing. I was kind of waiting to see what the defense was gonna do before I did it. Now I have to be more aggressive and get to the free-throw line, knock down free-throws and just be more confident.
You’re right now at 59.3 percent in free-throw shooting.
AB: It’s one area you need to improve every year. It’s just a matter of confidence. My technique is not too bad, I just have to stay in the gym and shoot as many as I can, which I have been doing the last couple of weeks. I’d definitely like to improve my percentage, no doubt.
How are the Bucks going to play this season?
AB: I think we’ll run. With a kid like Jennings you’d be crazy trying to play half-court. He’s one of the quickest point guards I’ve ever seen with the ball. He can find the open man. We’ll try to push the ball offensively and defensively we’ll be definitely be a half-court team. We’ll try to get stops to win games. We’ll be a defense-first team. That’s Scott Skiles’ system and that won’t change.
A total of 53 panelists from across ESPN have predicted the Bucks to be second to last in the East.
AB: We like it. We like where they picked us. I think it’s better for us and our franchise to have lower expectations coming in because nobody thinks we can do anything and if we can do something it’ll be a surprise. We have a lot of new players. I don’t think we have a starting five that… You know, most teams on paper you could kind of figure out whose the starting five is gonna be. With us, there’s a lot of question marks on who’s gonna start, who’s gonna play minutes, who’s not gonna play.
So do you expect a killing preseason?
AB: Yes, I do. We’ll try to have the whole team here on Monday, ready to work out on Tuesday and get started a bit earlier. Rather than having a training camp of conditioning, we’d rather learn how to play with each other on the floor and do all the conditioning before it ends. Hopefully all the guys will be here by Tuesday and start working out.
How would you define your NBA career after four years?
AB: Probably average because there’s a lot room for improvement. I had a pretty good third year but we didn’t win a lot of basketball games so for me that was a failure. I struggled earlier in the season last year and really started to play well towards December and January and then I got hurt. Average would be the right statement.
You said while you’re playing in the NBA, everyone wants a piece of you. At the same time, you can get a piece of everyone else. What have you learned from journalists?
AB: You’re just doing your job. You tell stories and that’s just the way it goes. When you are worried about what people say as far as (what) fans or people write about you… You know, make it in a positive way. If you get any talk about in a negative way, you’re just being talked about – so it’s a good thing.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the NBA is preparing Twitter guidelines for the players. You are one of those players that are into this new way of getting in touch with the fans. What do you think about it?
AB: I haven’t heard anything yet, maybe once the season starts they let us know, but it’s gonna be very hard to the NBA to tell people what to do with their lives outside of basketball. It’s pretty hard for the NBA to say “You can do this, you can’t do that”… I think it’s gonna be very very tricky. But once you’re on the court at a practice site, I definitely agree you shouldn’t be posting twitters or facebook. Once you finish a game if you write “We had a good win” or “We should have played better” or whatever, I think that’s fair enough. But at halftime… I definitely agree with that. I’m a professional and you should do that on your own time.
It is said that maybe they would also talk to the players about using Twitter to release team-related news.
AB: That’s probably another thing. Obviously there’s some stuff that teams want you to keep to yourself and that goes back to this: Maybe managers won’t want to communicate much with their players anymore because they think they gonna go and post it on the Internet. Like I said, the bottom line is everyone is on Twitter, websites… The more publicity they get the better for them, so certain people will take a fine or two but they’ll get an extra fifty thousand people coming to their site. You have to keep that in mind as well.
In Slam Online, Etan Thomas posted a response to your comments in the Sydney Morning Herald when you talked about the public’s image of NBA players. Do you remember that story?
AB: No (laughs).
If you could go back in time, what would you say?
AB: The way it came out it was wrong. I definitely agree with the points Etan Thomas made, I definitely wasn’t right looking back now, but it wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I think it was taken a little bit for a ride by a certain journalist but it definitely wasn’t the point I was trying to make.
So that journalist wrote it in a different way you said it.
AB: It was a phone conversation, so obviously when you are talking to a journalist on the phone you don’t know in what context they are talking about or in what sort of manner they are talking about, so it’s kind of hard we don’t see each other face to face. But like I said, I made a mistake and I’ve learned from it.
Here’s a question from our members of the HoopsHype.com Forums: Are we going to see you high-fiving yourself at the free throw line again?
AB: Yeah, maybe next time I’ll do a chest bump to myself (laughs).
What do you think Australia will do in the World Championships to be played in Turkey next year?
AB: That’s a good question. Obviously we have a new coach and new players coming up, so it’s still questionable what sort of system we are going to play and everything, but it’s definitely exciting. We hope to make the Final Four, but there is a lot of good countries these days playing basketball. It’s very hard getting to the Final Four, especially in the World Championships. If we can make it, it will be a success for us.
Australia lost to New Zealand this summer.
AB: We had a lot of players missing, which is no excuse. Props to them, they played very well against us. They deserved the win and hopefully we can move on and play a good World Championships.
What do you think about the new generation of Australian players?
AB: There are some exciting guys. Pat Mills is definitely one, although he got injured. But there are a lot of them in college who could lead the way next year.
Would you consider playing in Europe once you are done in the NBA?
AB: Basketball in Europe has a different atmosphere than America and Australia. I’d like to experience it and if the body hold up by then it would definitely an option.