KP interview

In summer league game 4 Mike Barrett and Mike Rice interviewed Kevin Pritchard for the entire 3rd quarter. Most of this conversation was transcribed fairly close to word for word. One section from Barrett I paraphrased and it's noted.
There wasn’t a lot of game commentary from Mike & Mike during the 3rd quarter and I left it out of this post, but if that commentary parlayed into player discussion, then it was included.


Players discussed were:

Jerryd Bayless

Dante Cunningham

Pooh Jeter

Jeff Pendergragh

Bobby Jones

Joe Prunty (coach)


Kevin Pritchard is making his way over to Rice and Barrett.


MB: It’s never a straight line to the table for KP, he gets called over by lots of folks.

MR: Well, when he walks over people are trying to do deals with him.

MB: You can tell where this conversation is going to go Kevin.

KP:  Yeah I know the questions already. (laughter) Not hello, happy birthday, nothing like that.


MR: Great defense the first half, what do ya think.

KP: Yeah, you know, I could tell by our energy the first 2 minutes of the game we were going to play with a little bit more enthusiasm on the defensive side. Jerryd’s doing a good job of finding guys. Ya know Pooh Jeter, he’s just fun to watch. He’s doing some things, he’s getting in the paint, he’s making things happen. He’s fun to watch.


MB: Kinda nice having Cunningham back.

KP: He makes a whole heck of a lot of difference on the defensive end, and when he’s knocking down that 16-17 footer he’s affective on offense.


MB: I know that Joe Prunty wasn’t happy last night with the effort, the defense, and the activity. So I guess even though it’s summer league it’s nice if you’re a coach to have your team respond immediately, and this team certainly did that tonight.

KP: Well it’s the Spurs too, so you know this team is going to play hard, and it’s going to be a tough physical game, and they’re competitive. Let’s face it, if Pop and I are talking up there, we’re trying to beat each other, doesn’t matter if it’s summer league, the regular season or in the playoffs. You want to win, you want to see your team having some success out there.

MR: And I think it’s easily the best team the Blazers have played in the summer league.

KP: I don’t think there’s a question.

MR: San Antonio is undefeated. And they’ve got some guys…


MB: Bobby Jones not known for his offense but he had 15 the other night and he’ll knock it down on occasion.

KP: Yeah he can, and again, I think we haven’t done as good of a job of getting into the paint and finding each other. And this game Pooh’s getting into the paint, Jerryd’s getting into the paint, and if you can get that defense to collapse you can get some wide open shots, and that’s what were doing right now. And we’re knocking them down…the last couple games we’ve had a tough time just making shots.

MR: That’s why the assist total is so much better tonight. The other night they were passing the ball but just not making open shots.


MB: You talk about timing in this league, and opportunity, and Patty Mills. A bad break for him, but then Pooh Jeter gets his chance. Pooh has been affective and there’s a little bit of a buzz around here about him. You’d like to see him be able to find his way onto an NBA roster, and show his stuff. He’s made the most of his opportunity.

KP: He really has, what I really like about him is he brings an energy to the game. he’s up, he’s talking. Makes it fun for everybody else and that’s what we need. We need some of that.


Break 8:25 left in 3rd -  Portland 50,  SA 35


MB: Happy Birthday yesterday, by the way.

KP: Actually it’s today (18th), and on my basketball card and on the internet it all says the 17th, but it’s actually today.

MB: So what are we doing.

KP: I don’t know, but I’m thinking that if my basketball card is like worth a penny or two, that now it might be worth more, because anytime there is something wrong on something like that the value goes up.


MB: Talk about the news yesterday, that Utah did officially match the offer sheet that you had given to Paul Millsap. You guys expected that, but I guess you could still say that you accomplished a goal in that…A division rival not having Boozer and Millsap.

KP: We all know what happens, we decided this is a player we wanted on our team and we made that a number that we’re comfortable with. And if they match, they match, but we we’re excited about having Millsap, but you just never know in those kind of things. That’s the collective bargaining agreement.
This is what I do know; we still have options to get better. And more importantly, we like the team that’s coming back.

I think people have blown up this cap space and all that kind of thing…when the most important thing, without a doubt is our internal growth.

IF Greg gets better, if Batum gets better, if this kid (Bayless?) on the floor gets better, if some of our rookies get better, that’s the key for our team. It’s never been this super plan to go get a major star. We already have some pieces in place. I know that may sound like a little bit of rhetoric, but it’s not, we want to use our cap space and be aggressive.

We’re very protective of who we bring in.


MB: And there is perspective you gain from being in a place like this…and even around our hotel there’s so many executives from other teams, and I was talking to a GM the other day who said "I don’t think you guys need to add anything". He said "There’s a lot of teams in this league who’d give their right arm for a roster like you have."

So I think you are right, when you get to close to a situation…uh, there’s been so much talk about what you’re going to add, who you’re going to add. How about another year and a healthy Martell Webster.

KP: Yeah, he’s like an FA acquisition. So, we know we’ve got to improve, we know that there are ways to improve…will we be aggressive, absolutely. That’s the fun part of this business.


MR: So your phone is still working.

KP: I haven’t turned it off. Lets just put it that way.


MR: There’s a lot of rumors in the papers about different names and everything…(inaudible words, laughter).

KP: In the staff meetings, it’s the first thing you ask in front of everybody (a little more laughter). We’re going to be as aggressive as we need to be. That’s the fun part of this business. But we’re going to be selective. We know how important it is – this next step. You gotta have the right guy, and you gotta feel good with it.

Nate and I talk about it every day. It’s taken a lot of effort and energy, and you know let’s face it, some pain. Because we’ve gone through some tough seasons.

What this truly reminds me of, and I’ll say this for the first time ever. I remember being at the draft lottery, and we were supposed to get the first pick in the draft, but we got the 4th pick. And we turned it into 2 & the 6th. And it kind of feels like we’re (working?) to do something like that, but I can’t promise it. I think Tom Penn, Mike Born and Chad Buchanan as a management staff are being as creative as they possibly can be.

And Nate and our coaching staff, we look at it every day, and we meet hours on hours and we’re selective.


MR: I think the key is not to panic and make something that may not fit what this organization is doing with this team.

KP: No question.


MB: Greg Oden is coming to town and will work with the US select team and I think everyone is anxious to see his development. Bill Banyo is doing a heck of a job out there in Indianapolis with him. We had a conversation with Billy a couple of weeks ago. He got us excited with what he was talking about. We mentioned this last night talking with coach Demopoulos and all this talk this summer about free agents and the draft, and everything else, but really one of the most important things is going to be how Greg Oden comes back in the fall. He’s now had his year and two years since the micro-fracture surgery, and everybody says that’s what it takes, so talk about his importance and his development.

KP: Well I know this, this is the first summer that Bill has been able to have him and teach him what it is to be a pro. And how to prepare yourself in the off season, because it changes…from college you kind of take it off and you enjoy summer. And I’m not saying Greg can’t enjoy the summer, but I believe in Bill Banyo. He develops players…he’s done a ton of them. He tells me everyday how hard he’s working, how committed he is. His weights in a good place.

I’m excited to see him against the select team because there’s going to be a ton of energy.


MR: So you’re going to be here.

KP: Oh yes, for the next 10 days. That’s exactly what I want. (possible sarcasm, there was a chuckle)


MB: Nate told me he’d like to see Greg around 260, 265 by the time training camp rolls around…that’s a little lighter. The quote I’ve been hearing as Nate and Banyo have said this, that lighter is better when it comes to Greg – they believe. And I know you guys are all on the same page.

KP: He can have his explosiveness, but he also has a ton of power too. And there’s that delicate balance, but we’ve always felt that lighter is better because every team with a good big, pulls him out and puts him in a pick and roll and you’re going to see that with some of the top players in this draft…Thabeet, the Blairs, all those guys, you’re going to pull them out, put them in the pick and roll, and see how they play – it’s the thing you do.


MR: Speaking of that, I’m really impressed with Jeff Pendergragh in this 3rd quarter. He’s banging against San Antonio. They came out and looked like they wanted to intimidate the Blazers and Pendergragh and Cunningham are having none of it.

MB: I know that’s exactly what you guys want to see from Pendergragh, that attitude inside, and grittiness. And he’s certainly shown you that, and he’s been undersized most nights…(MB cuts to game: offensive foul and there he is again, always in the right place at the right time.

KP: It’s interesting with Jeff because ASU played all that zone, so he was just block to block defensively. But as you see here, he gets squared up, he takes a charge, and I think taking the charge is one of the most underrated plays in basketball. It puts a foul on the other team and gets you closer to shooting free throws.)


MB: Joel Przybilla does that pretty well.

KP: He’s probably the best, him and Varejo’s is about as good as it gets.

And if we can get Jeff to slide his feet like he did on that pick and roll he becomes invaluable, he becomes the Varejo for our team, and we need that. We need that high energy guy.

It’s going to take some time, but we’ve always felt with Jeff defensively he would be good, and his offense would take some time. And he’s starting to knock down some 15 footers. And in Nate’s system we have so many creators and we can spread the floor and he’ll get that.


MR: Everyone’s talking about Brandon Roy, how’s he coming along.

KP: We can’t go into the details, everybody knows that. I wish I could, but I respect him and his agent way too much to talk about the details. What I will tell you is, that we know how important that kid is to us. We love the kid personally. On the court, off the court, he’s as good as they get. And we’re going to work toward a deal, and we’re going to work as hard as we possible can to make sure he’s in a Blazer uniform for as long as we possibly can.


(some game commentary, Portland by 20 after a Bayless jumper, 60 to 40. 4:46 left 3rd quarter)


MB repeats remark he made at the beginning of the quarter about Joe Prunty being happy how the team has responded.


KP: Well I was giving Joe a hard time the other day because he has that glazed-over head-coaching look. You know exactly…I’ve been there with nothing else on my mind except playing…the game…how to prepare. Nate gets it, and Nate and I were kidding him a little bit…this summer we want to win, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s more important that we develop the right habits.


( cut away due to Jeter alley oop to Bayless not passed in right place, but Jerryd nicely puts it back up, backwards over his head off the glass – voice inflection MB seems to have oohs and aws)


MB: If you ask the assistant coaches who have coached in the summer league, all of them that I know, they can tell you their summer league record.

KP: No question. Dean will tell ya immediately, yeah, yeah I’m 6 & 0 and that’s all I’m ever going to be ‘cause I’m never going to coach again. Lonny knows his (record). They think they’re (impressing/pressing?) GM’s for the next job, but really it’s about how you are developing and how your guys are playing.


(Jeter to Bayless alley oop is replayed and KP remarks)

KP: It’s amazing, you look at this play, how many times did we see Rudy do that last year. He is so clever at faking like he’s in the 3-pointer, then diving, then faking back into the 3 corner. That’s a great skill. If you can move without the ball in this league you got a chance because there are so many guys who are good with the ball.


MR: How is Rudy doing this summer?

KP: He’s doing fantastic. I talked to him about a week ago. He’s getting ready for the National League team. We have 2 guys on that team. Batum will play on the French team. Freeland will play on the English team. I was just told but can’t verify it, but Dante Cunningham has an English passport. I guess I should know that.


MR: That would be great. (more dialogue, I guess speculating that he might play with the English team? hard to tell what they meant)


MB: Tell us a little bit about victor Claver.

KP: He text me the other day and he was so excited…ya know he’s the 2nd youngest guy on the national team. And that national team – You get better when you play on that team, because the way they play, they do a great job of teaching a certain way to play. It’s a pitch and catch, shoot 3, playing up and down, and it will help him. I see him potentially as maybe a starter. I don’t want to say a 22nd pick in the draft will be a starter because the odds are that he won’t be. But he’s clever, and he can really shoot the ball, and he’s big. He’s gotten more athletic, and he would have been a top 10 pick if it wasn’t for his injury.


MB: If you ask Pooh Jeter about Claver, and he’ll tell you he thought he was the best player in Spain.

KP: He’s a talent, he’s got to learn to put the ball on the floor. He reminds me of Mike Dunleavy…very similar to Mike Dunleavy.


MB: (MB's remark paraphrased here) The hype going into summer league was we’ll get to see a lot of assist from Bayless (10-15), but clearly there’s not a lot of outside shooting. I think if people were expecting a lot of assists, it wasn’t going to happen.

KP: With Jerryd sometimes he gets a little too much in his head. He’s thinking too much instead of being a reactive player, because when he just reacts he’s a heck of a player. We don’t need him to be that creator, when the games on the line, I can tell you who’s going to have the ball. I don’t mean to give the other teams a hint, the ball is going to be with Brandon or LaMarcus, so you gotta be able to play off those guys, and he can do that. We want to see him make good decisions and compete his tail off, and he’s doing that.


KP: I know we’ve talked a lot about Jerryd. One thing that I’m impressed with in this summer league is the IQ of Cunningham on the defensive end. Jay Ryke must be really good at teaching defense because we saw it on tape and we saw it live, and it’s even better than it was advertised. And it’s a lot of fun to see that, because we’re going to need that as we move forward. We need that utility guy. He reminds me of a George Lynch, he can do everything, he can play multiple positions, he can get up on the boards - Just like he did right there (as KP was talking DC grabbed a board).


MB: And he runs the pick and roll very well and always seems to find the open window at the offensive end. He and Jeter had a good thing going the other night.


KP: I actually love summer league. I like coming out here and seeing different players, seeing how they develop. The one challenge is (I assume here he means how some aspect of summer league translates over to regular season – he eventually spells it out), does it spill into the regular season and into the playoffs. And I think it does in a way, because you learn about how guys are willing to go out there and compete and aren’t scared. That’s the one thing I think I take away…Jerryd you know is not scared, and you’re finding that out from Dante. And Jeff who’s a defender, a tough player, he’s not scared. I feel great about our 3 young guys playing on this team, that they’re not going to be scared once they get into regular season.


(game commentary during last minute, then banter about ending a quarter strong. KP relates how he is a firm believer in ending the quarter strong, even down to the last play, and cites the Spurs as a good example.)


MB: Thanks Kevin, we really appreciate it, and best of luck, we all have faith no matter what happens, even if nothing happens.

KP: Well, we like our team. That’s the one thing I can tell you, is we’re going to improve because our guys are going to grow and we have a great coach.






Notable comments from KP in interview:


It’s never been this super plan to go get a major star. We already have some pieces in place….We’re very protective of who we bring in.


On Greg: He (Banyo) tells me everyday how hard he’s working, how committed he is. His weights in a good place


One thing that I’m impressed with in this summer league is the IQ of Cunningham on the defensive end......... and it’s even better than it was advertised.


I feel great about our 3 young guys playing on this team, that they’re not going to be scared once they get into regular season. (interesting he says our 3 guys, What about Padgett, Pooh, etc.)


when the most important thing, without a doubt is our internal growth


On Claver: he would have been a top 10 pick if it wasn’t for his injury.


So, we know we’ve got to improve, we know that there are ways to improve…will we be aggressive, absolutely. That’s the fun part of this business.


I was born on the 18th of July. (send gifts accordingly)

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