Marko Jaric: "I wanted to play in a winning environment"
Marko Jaric: Right now, I am in the Staples Center signing the new sign-and-trade deal between the Clippers and the Timberwolves. I'm traded for Sam Cassell, next year’s first-round draft pick and cash considerations. I am signing a six-year 40 million dollar deal.
How satisfied are you after the end of quite a long negotiation period?
MJ: I am very, very satisfied with the outcome. This is the first sign-and-trade deal the Clippers have ever agreed to. I will get an opportunity to play in one of the best NBA teams with Kevin Garnett, who is certainly one of the best basketball players in the world. Minnesota’s management was fair to me from the first day of our negotiations. Kevin McHale is probably the most responsible person why the deal was made. His eagerness to get me to the Timberwolves practically made my mind about the whole situation.
Are you going to Minneapolis to the official introductory press conference?
MJ: No, I got a permission from my new team not to go to Minneapolis, but to immediately leave for Europe and join my National Team in preparation for the European Championships in September. I will entertain the calls from the local media, but we agreed that it is not perfunctory for me to appear in Minneapolis right now.
Did you talk about the expectations in your new club, since one of your main conditions was that you wouldn’t lose the starter position you had in the Clippers for the last two years?
MJ: It is very early to talk about that in definitive terms. However, the eagerness and desire I sensed with the Minnesota management, along with the fact that they lost their starting point guard in this deal, should probably suggest that I will be in pretty much similar situation minutes-wise as I was with the Clippers, but in the club with much higher ambitions.
What do you think of the transition from life in L.A. to Minneapolis?
MJ: That didn’t have any bearing in my decision process. I wanted to play in a winning environment, in a club where I could be contending for the NBA championship. Anyhow, during the season I won’t have too much time to have fun. I am still keeping my house in Hollywood Hills, though. I will live there during the summer and my parents and friends will use it during the season.
When are you joining the Serbian National Team in preparations for the Eurobasket?
MJ: I am leaving Los Angeles on Saturday, and I will be on the Serbian mountain resort where they are practicing either on Sunday or Monday.
How do you see the chances of Serbia-Montenegro at this competition after Peja Stojakovic decided not to play for the National Team this year?
MJ: We definitely lost one of our best players in Peja. However, all my colleagues from the National Team are extremely talented basketball players and I believe that we can answer the expectations of our whole nation and find the way to win the gold in the pool of at least nine teams that are vying for one of the medals this September.
Nebojsa Petrovacki is the editor of Sportska Centrala, a sports news agency from Serbia
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