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Post-Lottery Interview: Kevin Pritchard, Brandon Roy, more
by: Charlie Bury
May 23, 2007
Kevin Pritchard's Opening Statement: First of all, Brandon Roy was our luck charm. That was our plan in everything we did going forward and our plan came to fruition. We couldn't be more excited; this is a team that we are very proud of. We know that we have grown some, but this is an opportunity to be a catalyst to take us to the next level. We know we've got to go through the process to see who is that pick. No decisions have been made yet, but--as we said last week in our scouting and coaches meeting--it's going to be a fun debate going through it. With that, I'll open it up to questions.

Charlie Bury (DraftExpress) What kinds of things will be you doing to get to know these prospects as people, and how big a role does that play in the evaluation process?

Kevin Pritchard: I think it plays a pretty big part. We've done our basketball evaluations, at least the majority. But now it's getting our coaches comfortable with the (prospects), it's about sitting and having dinner or lunch with them and trying to get comfortable with them as people who fit what we're about. It's dedication to the organization, it's about being humble, it's about being hungry, and we feel like we will figure that out.

Question: Talk about the two players (Oden and Durant) and what their strengths are.

Kevin Pritchard: Their strengths are that they are both really good players (laughs). I'm kidding. What we're trying to do is figure out how to win a championship, so the first thing will be who we feel gets us to a championship. In reality, I think both of the players that are at the top of this draft have championship qualities. We put a lot of stock into the process. Going through the process of getting to know these kids, whether they fit what we're about. Whether they fit with Brandon Roy. We are going to continue and go through that process. Obviously one's a center and one's a small forward, but I'm the kind of GM who really looks at the best player available. I don't really care what position it is.

Charlie Bury (DraftExpress) Will you hold workouts for the top overall pick, and will that come into play at all in deciding your selection?

Kevin Pritchard: Yes and yes. We will hold workouts; we will get to know these kids. But we also have four picks in the second round, so we've got to be prepared for a lot of things. As we move forward, I've always told our scouts, weíve got to prepare 1-60, and ultimately if your player doesn't get picked, then youíve got to be prepared to go get him if he doesn't get drafted.

Charlie Bury: From what you know about the two guys right now, how difficult is it going to be to choose between them?

Kevin Pritchard: It's a trickle down. You define what you are about as a franchise, you write down some things that are important to you, and hopefully that mantra and those things trickle down and that helps make the decision easier. I've told our scouts, I've told Nate McMillan, I've told Paul Allen and I've told Todd Leiweke that I wanted to keep an open mind. We joked last week, we said "wouldn't it be great to have this debate?" Well now, we get to have the debate.

Question: Are you a playoff team now?

Kevin Pritchard: I don't want to put that kind of pressure on. I've always told our players that the most important thing is to get better. Obviously this is a big time catalyst. There are going to be some expectations, but I know that the guy that we pick will be able to handle that. Both those guys have always had high expectations on them their whole life, just like Brandon Roy, just like LaMarcus Aldridge and just like Jarrett Jack. If you can't handle the pressure you're in the wrong business.

Question: Talk about the last two drafts and how they will shape the franchise for the future.

Kevin Pritchard: We felt like last year was really a draft to get active in because of some players we liked, and maybe felt like they were undervalued by the league. This year, everybody is excited about this draft, itís harder to get picks in this draft. Weíre going to be as active as we can, but with this number one pick it changes some things. We don't have to do that. We can focus a lot of our time into that number one player and who fits us best.

Question: Could you under any scenario picture trading this pick?

Kevin Pritchard: I can't see us trading this pick, no. This is a very top-heavy draft and we feel like there is an unbelievable difference maker. They don't come around. As we move our timeline with Brandon and LaMarcus and a young team, we feel like his player will really be a benefit to that.

Question: Greg Oden has mentioned his desire to play on the same team as Miake Conley. Can you see yourselves going after Conley somewhere down the board?

Kevin Pritchard: Well I donít want to assume that we're going to take Oden yet first. If it is Oden or if it is Durant then we'll look at every possible scenario to compliment those players. We have what we feel is a pretty good nucleus right now, and whoever we add will be a great addition to that nucleus. I'm a big believer that your 15th player is just as important and your first player.

Question: Put into perspective how important this draft is because of Oden and Durant.

Kevin Pritchard: Huge. Unbelievably huge. Franchise making. I don't know how to make it any bigger than that. That's pretty big, huh? Bigger than the Rose garden, bigger than our organization, bigger than the city of Portland. The whole state and the whole area revolve on the Portland trailblazers. As we go, so does the whole city so to speak. This has a chance to really change our organization and the city. Rip city again, here we come.

Question: Does this change how you approach free agency and whether you feel like you need to make a run next season?

Kevin Pritchard: I donít think it moves our time frame up much, but what it does is make sure we make good decisions in free agency, and quite frankly it makes me hungry for a couple guys potentially who are going to be out there, even more hungry for me to go after them.

Question: When you look back on these last two years and how everything has turned out, last year in the draft, Brandon wining rookie of the year, throwing this on top of it. When you look back on it, what goes through your mind? How do you explain it all?

Kevin Pritchard: Well I've put a lot of pressure on myself to have a great team. I have a good relationship with Mr. Allen and I know how dedicated he is to this organization. We got the Rose Garden back. I things are finally falling into place. We got very lucky tonight. I remember talking to RC Buford when they got Tim Duncan and he said, "You know I'd rather be lucky than good". Thatís kind of how we feel right how. We've gotten lucky, but we also have created some of our own luck by getting Brandon Roy, getting LaMarcus, getting Sergio [Rodriguez]. I donít think that the aggressiveness that I hopefully bring in terms of making this team good, I don't think that changes.






Question: Talk about the prospects of playing with a potentially great center like a Greg Oden.

Brandon Roy: It would be great to play with a player like him. He has the ability to change the game defensively and offensively. He has the chance to be special.

Question: Does this kind of make up for a disappointing season?

Brandon Roy: It makes up for it somewhat, but it really wasn't a disappointing season. We had a lot of young guys, and we won 11 more games than we did the previous season, and hopefully we can win 11 more this season. And I think we have the young talent to do that.

Question: What popped in your mind when you realized you were going to be in the top three?

Brandon Roy: I was really getting nervous. Before it started, I figured things would probably hold up. Then when we made it to the top three, I started thinking about the possibility of playing with a Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. We really have a chance to have a great young team, and I'm excited to grow with this team.

Question: Did you really think this was possible when you woke up today?

Brandon Roy: I didn't think we had any chance. I was up there talking to Lenny Wilkens, and I told him I really wasn't expecting this at all. Last year, Portland had the worst record in the NBA and wound up with the fourth pick, so I knew anything could happen. In the end, I think it's great.

Question: What was your good luck charm?

Brandon Roy: I didn't have one. I told people, everybody said you have to make up something, and I told them that wouldn't be me. I've never had a good luck charm, and I didn't want to start today with one. I came out here being myself and it worked for me. We really have no control over it. The balls bounce the way they do.

Question: Is this team headed toward competing for a championship in a few years?

Brandon Roy: I think you have to start thinking that way. When you get a chance to get a top player, that bodes well for the future. I think we really have the chance to build something.






Lenny Wilkins, Seattle SuperSonics
President, Basketball Operations
Second Overall Selection

Q: With the franchise in a state of flux, what do you feel something like this does for the situation?
WILKINS:
Well, hopefully it gets people [in Seattle] more excited. Seattle has great fans. And like we say, it's not over until the fat lady sings, to borrow a phrase from Dick Motta. And I think we're still working real hard to keep the franchise there.


Q. Being able to bring a franchise player to the team ... you can't measure [the impact] that may have ...
WILKINS:
No, but I feel more comfortable going back home now. So I'm excited about it, and I think it's good for our franchise, too. We need a boost right now, and I think that helps.

Q. The idea is that Greg Oden will go No. 1 and Kevin Durant will be there at No. 2 ...
WILKINS:
Well, we'll see. We'll see what happens. Certainly one of the two will be [good].

Q. But what about Rashard Lewis, who's a free agent? Are you thinking about that?
WILKINS:
We want to re-sign Rashard. That's what we want to do. Rashard's a part of our franchise. We want to keep him and we're going to do everything we can to do that.

Q. Do you possibly see him and Ray Allen being a mentor to a young potential star?
WILKINS:
We'll see. I can't tell you that because I don't know who we're going to take yet.

Q. With the situation in Seattle, how do you view this development?
WILKINS:
I think it's a positive step. I think that fans can get excited about it. They know who the players are out there, so I think it's a boost.





Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks
Vice President, Basketball Operations
Third Overall Selection

Q: How do you feel about the way things went tonight and securing the third overall pick?
WILKINS:
Iím happy because we got two picks in the first round. We were positioned if we get the fourth pick, we lose that pick, so to keep the pick and get the 11th spot here is great for us.

Q: Is there any position you are looking to fill with the third pick?
WILKINS:
We are going to look at a lot of different variables. We got good choices at both picks and, believe me, we are going to make the best decision on what we need. We are definitely going to draft on what we need instead of the best available guy. This is great for our franchise because I think this will make us instantly a contender for the playoffs. This is big for us.

Q: How much of a relief was it to get in that top three?
WILKINS:
I was sweating over there. I wasnít banking on one, but I said just get me the three. We already got eleven, just get me the three and then we have two good choices in the first round.

Q: Are you superstitious at all? Did you bring anything for luck today?
WILKINS:
A little bit. I have my tie. Itís the tie I wore in the Hall of Fame, so I said maybe it will help me a little bit tonight.




Jerry West, Memphis Grizzlies
President, Basketball Operations
Fourth Overall Selection

Q: Can you tell me your feelings about how the Lottery fell together?
WEST:
Well, I don't really want to comment on it, OK? I don't like the Draft Lottery, never liked it. It's not sour grapes. I just think it's a terrible system and it needs to be addressed. Every other league in the other professional leagues, they all draft according to how they finish in the season. And we didn't come here expecting to get the No. 1 or No. 2, because it doesn't happen very often. The two worst teams this year get No. 4 and 5 in the draft and that's arguably hard to say who's going to be there that will help the team as much as the first two guys.

Q: I know you're leaving July 1. How do you feel the team is set up to move forward with its young nucleus?
WEST:
I don't really want to focus on that right now; there's so much work to be done between now and the draft. But this is not the most favorable night for us, that's for sure.

Q: This is considered one of the deeper drafts. Do you feel there can still be solid players at No. 4?
WEST:
They say that every year, but there are two great players this year. Don't you believe all the hype you read? There's a bunch of good players there if you can identify the right one. But it's hard to do that.





Tommy Heinsohn, Boston Celtic
Broadcaster, Former Player and Former Coach
Fifth Overall Selection

Q: Do you think itís maybe time to go back to a system where every team has a shot at it?
HEINSOHN:
What can I say? Itís a dramatic thing. One guy tells me if they donít get the number one pick, theyíre going to have trouble getting fans in the building. The Celtics right now have a very young nucleus, and one of these top guys would have really helped. But, they tell me, in the first six there are players who will help the ball club, so weíll have to see what happens. For the sixth, fifth and fourth teams to end up 1-2-3, itís really unbelievable.

Q: Who do you think the Celtics should be looking at?
HEINSOHN:
I really havenít scouted much. Iím not really at liberty to say. The two top kids that everybody talks about are potential franchise players that you can ride for 10 years. They seem to have that kind of potential. Iíve said to other people, it Al Jefferson was coming out this year, heíd be right up there, so in essence, we already have our first pick.

Q: Do do you see this draft shaping up?
HEINSOHN:
What Jerry West told me is that you have the first two guys, and then thereís a huge drop off. But, the other guys will be good players. And, itís no lead-pipe cinch that these two guys will be stars. They have to have the competitiveness, the drive. They got the talent, but you also have to talk about the desire of players. And weíll see what they have.

Q: Are you disappointed?
HEINSOHN:
Yeah. Certainly, itís disappointing. It was such an unusual thing where the three worst teams fell to six, five and four. Itís a little screwy.




Larry Harris, Milwaukee Bucks
General Manager
Sixth Overall Selection

Q. Do you feel like you can still get an impact player with the sixth pick?
HARRIS:
Oh yeah. The one thing we knew is that weíd be one through six and we like the draft beyond six, anyway. I think Iím more astonished that one, two and three finished four, five and six more than anything else. Sure, when you go into it you donít want to fall back, you want to try to stay at least three, but the chances of us being three or four is kind of where we thought weíd be worse case scenario. We still like where weíre at as far as six is and what that player will bring us. Itís just a little more work weíve got to do as opposed to being one or two or three. Itíll be a challenge and an exciting next six weeks.

Q. Any areas youíre specifically focusing on to improve your team
HARRIS:
I think the way we always approach the draft is that we always want to take the best player. If you look at where our team needs some help, we obviously have some free agent point guards, weíre going to need a swing player as well and we also need a big man. We feel like we can fill any of those three areas in the draft.




Randy Foye, Minnesota Timberwolves
Seventh Overall Selection

Q. What do you think of Curtis Sumpterís [Foyeís former teammate at Villanova] chances getting picked in the draft with all the injuries?
FOYE:
I think that Curtis has a great shot just because of his position and his hunger to play and win. I think that he is going to make it and if he gets drafted it would be great, but even if he somehow does not get drafted he will make the team and be a great player.

Q. How do you feel about getting the seventh overall pick?
FOYE:
I didnít move up and I didnít move down. It would be a little bit better if we got between the six and the number one pick, but we got seven and that was the pick we were suppose to get, so I am cool with that.

Q. Did you do anything to prepare for tonight or bring any good luck charms?
FOYE:
I got a genie bottle from my little niece and I have some holy water from Rob Babcock. He works in the front office for Minnesota. I just tried to bring them and keep them in my pocket and touch them every now and again. It was meant for Portland to have it, and they are in our division, so I guess we have to play against them now whoever they get.
 
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Feedback for this article may be sent to Charlie.Bury@Marquette.edu .

 

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