Zach Randolph: "Nothing less than playoffs will be satisfying"
Zach Randolph: I heard it in the morning and I was kind of shocked. After that, I got over it and I decided to make the best of my situation. The Knicks told me how much they wanted to have me on the team and that really made me feel good.
As the regular season approaches, how has the adjustment been coming to a new team?
ZR: It’s been a real good adjustment for me, learning the ropes, figuring how my teammates like to play. We’re coming together as a team and getting our chemistry right and I have a good feeling about this team.
There are questions about how you and Eddy Curry will be able to play together since you both like to operate down low. How has that been blending your games together?
ZR: I think it’s working out pretty good. Eddy is just now beginning to play in the preseason. We are practicing together and getting our chemistry together. In practice we are looking good. Once the ball tips up for good, we are trying to work all the kinks out and get our rhythm out there.
In the past the Knicks have been criticized for their individualistic play, but the team seems to be sharing the ball much better. Can you talk about this?
ZR: Coach (Isiah Thomas) has preached playing together, practicing hard together and that is what we have been doing.
Because you are on a new team, is there anything about your game or your approach that will be different?
ZR: I only know how to play one way. I don’t know about trying to be different. I just try to be me.
Last year, you averaged 23.6 points and 10.1 rebounds and what seems to be the most difficult part of guarding you is that you can score inside, but also hit the perimeter shot. Can you talk about how you developed this type of versatility?
ZR: When I had knee surgery a few years ago, that summer I worked hard, taking a lot of shots and that helped me a lot and helped open up my game. I can also drive to the basket and post up so I can come at you in a lot of ways.
Forget about the adjustment of a new team. What about going from Portland to New York.
ZR: New York is one of the biggest markets in the world and everybody wants to come to New York City and it’s really been exciting to be here.
Do you feel revived with this new start with a new team?
ZR: I feel it’s a fresh start and a new beginning. I am not looking back on the past, I’m looking at the future and getting to the next level.
What are your expectations this year with the Knicks?
ZR: Nothing less than playoffs will be satisfying. We have the talent to get to the playoffs.
You are the only player in Portland history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding four consecutive years. Yet many fans, especially in the East, didn’t get to see you play much. Did you feel unappreciated in Portland?
ZR: I feel I didn’t get the recognition I deserved in Portland. A lot of people didn’t get to see me because our games started at 10 o’clock in the East. I’m glad I’m here. People can me play and I hope I can help the team get to the next level.
When people talk about the improvement of the Eastern Conference, one of the reasons is that many top players have come from the Western Conference. What is your take on this situation?
In your last three years in Portland, the Trail Blazers were a combined 80-166. How difficult was it to cope with all the losing?
ZR: It was very tough. I know what it feels like to go to the playoffs and I know how the crowd feels and it feels so great and I want to get there again.
Could you talk about your relationship with coach Isiah Thomas?
ZR: Coach Thomas is great. He told me he wanted me here. I’m glad I am here. Coach Thomas is going to get me to the next level and will get the best out of me.
Who has been instrumental in helping you get to this point?
ZR: My mother, the lord, coach (Maurice) Cheeks. Coach John Loyer, now an assistant coach for 76ers, guys like that. My second year, coach Loyer came to Marion (Indiana) and spent the summer in the boys club helping me out. Passing me the ball. We did drills. It was a big help to me.
You only played one year in college at Michigan State. How difficult was the adjustment when you first got to the NBA?
ZR: It’s a tough adjustment, just leaving your family. I told myself I would work hard and get better. I was fortunate to come to a team with great guys like Rasheed Wallace, Scottie Pippen, Shawn Kemp, Dale Davis, a lot of veteran guys who had been around and won championship, so I learned from guys like that.
Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
Tell us what you think about this interview. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com