I think the Bobcats committed a terrible mistake dropping off Walter Herrmann and eating up such a huge salary from Nazr Mohammed. Do you feel that Michael Jordan is becoming one of the most disappointing GMs of all time?
I think it early to say that MJ is one of the most disappointing GMs of all time, but a case can be made that his recent transactions and draft picks are suspect. He drafted Kwame Brown No. 1. Made some questionable moves in Washington, including activating himself as a player when people thought that took away from younger players’ development. He signed a new face, Sam Vincent, when there were a lot of proven coaches waiting. He traded for Jason Richardson, which is not a bad move, but if you have several players that play that position then it’s an issue. Only time will tell with the Bobcats because they’re young and talented with a young coach who has the respect of the players thus far. And they’re not playing bad basketball so far this season.
What is it like when a player gets traded from team to team, for example when Brian Shaw was traded for Sherman Douglas? Is there a big change in the feeling within the locker rooms? Do you have any funny stories regarding new players arriving or players leaving the team you were playing for?
When a player gets traded, you know it’s just business. But when you have relationship on and off the court with teammates, that’s when it’s tough. It’s like a brother moving away. They have no choice but to leave and get established with a new team. The locker room changes cause all the guys are close like a family. I was good friends with Brian Shaw and we went through a lot together – including Reggie Lewis passing away and his family tragically dying in a car accident. So it’s tough when a friend like that gets traded. But I will honestly say that the best point guard I had a chance to play with on a full-time basis was Sherman Douglas. He made me a better player and we enjoyed hanging out off the court. The funniest story has to do with myself getting traded from Boston to Toronto on a West coast road trip. I found out that I got traded by one of the assistant coaches sliding a note under my hotel door telling me not to come on the team bus. “You’ve been traded and someone will let you know what’s next.” Not cool. Especially in Vancouver.
If you were the GM, what would be your plan for the Knicks?
This is easier than it sounds but I would totally revamp the roster by bringing in young players (a la Portland) and get rid of the malcontents. I would publicly say that we are officially rebuilding and it’s gonna get worse before it gets better so be patient. Again, sounds easy and we are talking about Knick fans here. I don’t think Isiah is a terrible coach, I think all he needs is to focus on coaching and he would be better off without the personnel responsibity. Remember, coaches care about winning today and GMs care about winning into the future. So you can’t be both without compromising the other. The reality is that this team has to be totally overhauled. A few pieces are worth keeping, but when you’re not that good everyone can be gone with the right offer.
Do you think that now players are more likely to flop than back in your days as an NBA player? If so, is it because of them or because the League allows it?
Players when I played did flop. Either you could guard a person or you got torched that night. Flopping became popular when the rules changed on what you can and cannot do in the post area. Granted I’ve acted a bit on taking charges, but it wasn’t used as a tool to make the ref make a decision on every possession versus a great player. Every era has floppers or guys using the rules to a slight advantage. In my day, among guards it was Reggie Miller and among inside players it was Vlade Divac.
Will Chris Webber play in the NBA again?
I don’t think he will. Every day goes by, Chris Webber gets older and kness gets worse. There is a slight possibility when teams are making playoff runs and getting their playoff rosters in shape that his name might pop up if the situation is right for the team.
When you played in the NBA, were you aware of players who had issues with alcohol like Keon Clark?
You always are concerned and aware about players that have any problems with anything that is addictive. We are like one big brotherhood and we try to help guys who have those issues and support them to get better for themselves. The one thing you did if a guy like Keon Clark was a teammate was not put them in compromising situations for them to have to make tough choices that could lead to something bad.
How much of an impact could have the W of the Suns at San Antonio?
It was big in the sense that it burned the Suns (no pun intended) to lose that series last year after all the suspensions with Stoudemire and Diaw. Also just to show the Spurs that on any giving night, even on the road, they can beat the Spurs. To me every game during the season is a statement game when you’re playing other teams that you might have to go through in the playoffs. That’s just the mental part of basketball. Just like the Warriors and Dallas last year, mentally they knew the could beat the Mavs because they did it several times during the regular season. So it was an impactful win for the Suns early in the season.
Do you think that the Lakers can win it all with Kobe and Bynum (and a supporting cast led by Lamar Odom) or they must trade Kobe and start building around Bynum?
I don’t think this team as assembled can win a championship. They’re missing a few pieces, especially considering how tough the Western Conference is. They will always be dangerous come playoff time because of Kobe, but not a championship team. If you can win a championship and build your team around the most dynamic individual player and scorer in the NBA, you’re not going to build it around a young center who is getting better every game but is not ready to carry a team by himself. You keep those three pieces (Kobe, Bynum, Odom) and try to find the mix of roles players. They have a few (Walton, Ariza, Radmanovic) but need a few more. If you trade Kobe, you will get lots of pieces in return but it still wouldn’t be Bynum’s team until you see what player you received for Kobe.
OK, here’s a new one: Chris Paul or Deron Williams?
Tough one. I go back and forth daily on these two great players. But if I had to start a team today, I would choose Chris Paul. I think he is more of a true point guard. Makes everyone around him better and can carry a team on his shoulders like Isiah Thomas did with the Detroit Bad Boys. Over the long haul, I like Deron because of his size at point, durability and three-point shooting are better than Paul’s. But both are great and will be superstars for a long time.
What do you think about Reggie Theus bringing up the curfew rule to the Kings when they are on the road?
I don’t like it. This is not college and these are grown men. If you’re not responsible enough to carry yourself like a professional and responsible adult then you need to take the consequences of your actions as a grown man. You should not have to have someone to tell you when you have to go to bed or be in your room if you really respect and appreciate the game and the position you’re in as a NBA player. At some point, you have to be accountable for what you do on and off the court. NBA is for players who are ready to be responsible for their lives off the court also. No Babysitting Allowed.