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Interview with JR Pinnock of the Arkansas Rimrockers
by: Richard Walker
March 18, 2007
JR Pinnock (Danilo Pinnock) was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks out of George Washington 58th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft before being promptly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. After an impressive stint in the Long Beach Summer Pro League, JR signed a contract with Los Angeles, but was unable to make the roster out of training camp. Discouraged, but not defeated, Pinnock went overseas and once again faced adversity when he joined the Giessen 46ers, a team that was slowly falling apart. JR rallied himself and came back into the NBA family, where heís now averaging 11 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists per contest, with the NBDLís Arkansas Rimrockers

Richard Walker: At George Washington you guys had an amazing run up to the tournament, what was that experience like?

JR Pinnock: It was like a dream come true. To go to a little college like George Washington and have our name up there with the Dukeís and the North Carolinaís Ė I think we got up to like number 6 in the country, which is a school record Ė it was real fun. Dreams do come true.

Richard Walker: You played with the Panamanian national team for a little bit, is that something youíre still involved with?

JR Pinnock: Yeah, definitely. Iíll be out there again next summer. I couldnít go to the World Championships because I lost my passport, and that was something that hurt me, but I helped the team qualify for it two years ago and Iíll definitely be back down there this summer so we can hopefully go further.

Richard Walker: Did you get your passport situation all worked out?

JR Pinnock: Oh yeah, I got my passport back. I actually just got back from Germany, thatís where I was. Iíve got everything situated now.

Richard Walker: Do they speak English?

JR Pinnock: On the Panamanian team?

Richard Walker: Yeah.

JR Pinnock: Most of the guys speak English.

Richard Walker: Howís your Spanish?

JR Pinnock: Not as good as it should be. My dad serves as my translator, so thatís pretty good, but most of the guys speak a little bit of English.

Richard Walker: Heading into the [2006] NBA Draft you worked out with the [Washington] Wizards and [Detroit] Pistons. Who else did you work out with?

JR Pinnock: The [Los Angeles] Lakers twice and the [San Antonio] Spurs.

Richard Walker: How did you feel your workouts went?

JR Pinnock: My workouts went real well. I went in and was able to show my athleticism, show that Iíve been working on my jump shot. They went real well.

Richard Walker: When you were drafted by the [Dallas] Mavericks with the 58th pick was that kind of a relief because you were getting towards the end of the second round there?

JR Pinnock: Yeah, it was a shock, because I didnít work out for the Mavericks. Obviously now we know it was part of a trade, but it was a shock to be drafted, because itís every basketball playerís dream. Whether itís the 1st pick or the 58th or 60th, just to have your name called on that night is every playerís dream and it happened for me.

Richard Walker: So it wasnít really a surprise then when you were immediately traded to the Lakers.

JR Pinnock: It all happened so fast. When I was drafted by Dallas I was excited, tears started flowing, and then 20 minutes later we got the phone call that I had been traded to the Lakers, and I was even more excited. I fell in love with LA the first time I came and worked out for them, and then to get drafted by them, and have a chance to learn from guys like Kobe [Bryant] and vets like Aaron McKie, it was great.

Richard Walker: You opened a lot of eyes in summer league I thought. How was that experience?

JR Pinnock: In summer league the whole experience was nerve-wracking. The whole time youíre playing you know youíre not guaranteed Ė being a second round draft pick Ė and I tried to block that out as much as I could and just go out and play ball and have fun and it worked for me.

Richard Walker: Speaking of being guaranteed, you went and signed a contract with the Lakers, and I heard they wanted you to go to Europe instead. What was the situation there? How did that all come about and why didnít you end up going to Europe at the time?

JR Pinnock: I think I was just so blessed in the whole process: to be like the last guy invited to pre-draft camp, to then go and have the pre-draft camp that I had, then getting drafted while being one of the guys who wasnít even in the draft book in New York and still getting drafted, so I was feeling that my luck was running so good that why not give it a shot? When I got to that point it was just like, if I donít make it this year I know itís not the end of it. One great thing was that I became friends with Smush Parker, and Smush went through this whole process too, and he didnít even get drafted, so I had at least one leg up on him. I got advice to go ahead and try it, and I knew I had a slim chance of making the team, but I wanted to try.

Richard Walker: Well you signed with the Giessen 46ers [in Germany] what was that like?

JR Pinnock: Let me say this first: the German league is a great league. Itís a really great league. But this team that I played with Ė usually I wouldnít even speak about it, but since they went ahead and spoke bad about me Iím going to return the favor now Ė it was the worst organization Iíve ever been a part of. No training staff. No facilities. We worked out at like a public high school. The general manager was fired during the middle of the season. The head coach quit because he wasnít get paid. Players werenít getting paid. They offered me a big contract that they couldnít even pay, so they started taking money from other guys to pay me. I didnít want any part of that.

Richard Walker: Thatís unbelievable.

JR Pinnock: They brought in a coach who didnít care. The team was 1-11 when I got there, Iíve never seen a coach come into a situation like that and not change anything. He ran the same offense that the other coach was running before, and I didnít see him putting forth any effort. They took me away from my game. I like to play a game where I can get everybody involved, and they wanted me to be a Kobe Bryant/Allen Iverson type scorer. At the end of the day, my goal is to get back to the NBA, and Iím not going to be any teamís leading scorer in the NBA. So I thought it was best for me to take the pay cut, come home, and play in the D-League.

Richard Walker: Your former George Washington teammate Pops Mensah-Bonsu has had pretty big success in the D-League. Did that play a factor in your decision to come back here?

JR Pinnock: I talked to Pops and to Mike [Hall] from Germany and told them my situation and they both advised me to come home. Pops, as you know, is having a monster year in the D-League, and Mike Hallís having a monster year too. Heís obviously not getting the pub that Pops is getting, but heís having a great year. Heís averaging a double-double right now. They told me to come home and try it. This is a business, but itís also about being happy. You canít perform if youíre not happy, and Iím a lot more happy over here than I was over there, and thatís really the main thing.

Richard Walker: When you first came back did you just go into the player pool? Did you have a chance to go to the [Los Angeles] D-Fenders? I would think with the Lakers being familiar with you already that that might have been a good option.

JR Pinnock: From talking to the Lakers they tried, but I went into the player pool, and Arkansas grabbed me. Coach [Nolan] Richardson helps out with the Rimrockers, and Coach Richardson coached me on the Panamanian national team, and so he advised them to go ahead and get me. I like it here. Our record doesnít show how good of a team this is. We have a really good team, but for some reason itís not showing out on the floor yet.

Richard Walker: I was going to ask you how youíre adjusting, but you dropped a triple-double the other night, so it seems like youíre doing all right so far.

JR Pinnock: I donít think my game is that complicated. If Iím open I try to hit shots, and if I can get guys involved thatís what I like to do. I get just as excited about dishing the ball to somebody as I do about making a bucket. Iím just trying to show my all around game; show people I can play the point as well as the 2.

Richard Walker: Do you get any feedback from NBA personnel about what you need to work on to get back to the NBA?

JR Pinnock: Everybody is saying my jump shot and ball handling, and those are the two things I focused on. When I was overseas I was working on my jump shot. Everyday before practice I would make an NBA three-point line out on the court Ė with a lot of tape, but I would do it Ė and I would just work on it. After practice, and before practice. I think itís showing now. I started off a little slow, but I hit two big ones today, and my mid-range is looking really good. Iíve been hitting a lot of mid-range jump shots. Iím not looking to go to the league and be somebodyís leading scorer. I just want to be a guy to come in and contribute and cheer my team on.

Richard Walker: I think thatís a great attitude to have. Thanks a lot.

JR Pinnock: No problem.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to richard.walker@draftexpress.com .

 



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