Donnie Walsh Transcript
compiled by Ricky Henne, NYKnicks.com
Posted Jun 22 2009 3o p.m.
Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh addressed the media on Monday, just three days before the 2009 NBA Draft. Below is a transcript of what Walsh had to say regarding the draft, the Knicks and the NBA in general. Question: Why would you have (Jrue) Holiday in twice?
Donnie Walsh: I just wanted to take a final look at him, because I’ve seen him but I wanted to make sure everybody saw him, scouts and coaches.
Question: How much of a fear is it, I mean obviously there have been a lot of guys who have gone from being freshman to being good NBA players, but is that something also for guys like him that are in that same boat?
Walsh: Yeah, but there’s a lot of them. So is it a fear? No, not if you think that he can project into being a good NBA player. So in the case of most of the guys that are in this draft, that’s what is being done. But it is a jump of faith to try to predict a guy into a certain level, because you are going on what is his potential and if you feel good that he is going to reach it.
Question: Is there something you didn’t see from Holiday the first time that you wanted to?
Walsh: No. I saw him play in the regular season so I have a good feel for him. But going into the draft, you start watching the way the draft can go and you want to make sure. So there wasn’t anything earth shattering, it was like, well, why not let him come in again. And his agent said fine. Most of these kids are going to go to the NBA Draft, so they are on their way anyway.
Question: Are you aware of the smokescreens that are out there now, and the teams ahead of you? I mean, Washington is talking about seven players…
Walsh: Yeah I know.
Question: So do you see games being played, especially because there is a lot of parity in this draft?
Walsh: Yeah, I think that’s true. The only player right now is (Blake) Griffin. You know where he’s going and after that, all the way down past us, you have no idea who is taking who. And I think its to a degree because there is parity. There’s also at this point most teams got a guy that they want to take, and they don’t want anyone else to kind of figure it out. And we have a few teams that are traditionally like that at the top of the draft, and have been for a while.
Question: So do you have to have a plan A, B, C, D…(is gay)
Walsh: Yes, of course. That’s what we’ll do.
Question: Is that what looking at Holiday a second time is?
Walsh: That’s part of it, but I think we also have until Thursday night and we need to spend it exactly on that to be sure that if this, this and this happens, where are we?
Question: When he talks about smokescreens, is that what people talking about (Hasheem) Thabeet and (Ricky) Rubio falling out of the top four is? Or are you pretty confident that they won’t be around when you pick eighth?
Walsh: No, I’m not.
Question: So you are confident or you aren’t that they will be available?
Walsh: I’m not confident that they will be in the top four.
Question: So they could slide down your way?
Walsh: Yea, they could. I mean, it’s possible. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but you are hearing all this stuff and reading all this stuff. It could happen.
Question: Is this the most in flux a draft has been that you can recall?
Walsh: Not really. I mean, I think they are all like this. People are afraid of teams jumping ahead of them. They figure out, ‘Oh, ok if I want this guy he’s going to stop at four, then I have to get three” and then a trade at the last minute (could happen).
Question: Do you understand why Rubio might slip? Is it because of his situation with the buyout, he hasn’t worked out for anyone…
Walsh: I think it’s effected (Brandon) Jennings as well. They are not here, you don’t hear a lot about them, in Rubio’s case he didn’t work out, so you either really have to want him, because he is not in the news so to speak as much as the other players. And I think Jennings was that way too. That’s why he’s working out a lot. I’m sure he’s impressing some teams.
Question: Did you ask or want Rubio to come in?
Walsh: Probably back, but not now. We are down to it, and we know he’s a good player.
Question: But earlier in the process…
Walsh: Well when we started, I probably wanted to get him in.
Question: So you won’t meet with him?
Walsh: I don’t need to.
Question: Is he still number one on top of the board in terms of point guards?
Walsh: I don’t know. You have to ask the guy whose got two. (laughs)
Question: So on draft night you will have a scenario of someone trying to get up to number two…
Walsh: Yeah, those things happen in the draft. I’m not saying you don’t talk about them now. It’s also in the draft, you might get a call five minutes before you pick or five minutes before they pick.
Question: Do you think there will be any less of that because of the parity?
Walsh: I think there’ll be more than that.
Question: Given the depth of the draft at point guard, do you think it’s likely that’s where you end up?
Walsh: No, I don’t. The players that are at our pick, and the player we think is best for us, that’s who we’ll pick. We haven’t picked out a position that we need to get in this particular draft.
Question:Are you thinking that (Stephen) Curry and Tyreke (Evans) just might not be there at eight?
Walsh: I think that there are a lot of guys that might not be there so I have to be ready for who is there and what we’re looking for. There are good players.
Question: The player that you draft, could he impact the free agents, particularly the top free agents that you have?
Walsh: It depends who it is to be honest. There are some guys that are ready to play right now, and there are some that are very young and need time. The draft isn’t something you can grade the next day. You have to wait to see how you do. There is LeBron James and Michael Jordan, but in most cases, players need time.
Question: Last year, it was the first time working with Mike (D’Antoni). His system isn’t traditional. Do you look at that when you are picking?
Walsh: Yeah, I think you always do that. You always have a coach who has a style, so you try to pick for that style, but not 100-percent. If the guy is good enough, you figure he’ll fit in to his style.
Question: Do you want another number one pick because you don’t have one next year?
Walsh: I’d love to have one but people aren’t running around offering.
Question: Are you shopping for one, or even a two?
Walsh: Yeah I mean you always ask, but people are very reluctant to do that because they don’t know how they are going to be next year.
Question: There is talk with the way economy is, teams might be selling off picks. Have you seen any of that?
Walsh: No. I haven’t seen anything like that. We kind of talked to some people we thought would, and they haven’t yet.
Question: How far down in the draft would you go if you got a pick for next year to make it worthwhile?
Walsh: This year, I think you will be able to pick players 20-30, who while they haven’t got the cache of some of the players that are picked before that, so I think once we get the draft down and we are pretty close to it, you might be able to get a really good player at 20-30 if you get the right pick.
Question: Is there a market for your players? I mean a good market?
Walsh: I’m not sure. Because I probably value them more than other people.
Question: You’ve been asked about your players I presume.
Walsh: Yeah, there are some who do and some who don’t.
Question: When you talk about what you need and talk about point guards, it seems you like a scoring point guard?
Walsh: That’s not true.
Question: So what do you feel like you need from that position right now.
Walsh: I think a guy that can play a fast tempo. And I’d like a guy who can defend too, so those things. But someone who can play a fast tempo, because that’s what we want to play.
Question: Some say after that the players after one, they all seem kind of the same. Is this not a mediocre draft? Are you saying it is a decent draft?
Walsh: Well I think there are good players in the draft, so in that regard, there will be good players where we are so in that sense it is a good draft. You know, you have to wait two or three years to find out how really good it was. There are some years you go in thinking it’s not a really good draft, and you wake up two years later and these guys are starting, one through 20, and you think ‘Wow, that was a good draft.’
Question: When you evaluated Curry and he talked so much about wanting to be here, how much of a factor is that to you? Just the fact that he’s talking about it, what do you think of it?
Walsh: Well I’ve heard that from a lot of players, and so I like that. I like it better than someone who says he doesn’t want to be here. (laughs)
Question: How different is it this year in New York compared to your first year in the draft?
Walsh: It’s the same. I mean, I’ve told you guys I think you’ve got to get good players when you have this kind of opportunity. So that’s what I think. We have to pick the right guy.
Question: Have you seen Rubio play in person?
Walsh: No. I saw him on TV and all that, and I’ve watched a lot of film on him. A lot.
Question: But your people have.
Walsh: Yeah, I’ve got a European scout who is from people. We have people.
Question: How much do you blame the player or the agent when he decides he doesn’t want to work out?
Walsh: I don’t blame the player. Usually it’s the agents strategy and it either works or it doesn’t.
Question: What’s the strategy?
Walsh: The strategy is to get him picked by the teams the guy wants him to get picked by.
Question: Do you think New York is one of those teams that people wouldn’t mind…
Walsh: Well because we are at eight, not at the beginning but maybe at the end. Who knows? I’m not part of that strategy.
Question: What is your opinion about the one-and-done rule? Would you like to see high school kids be able to come out?
Walsh: I’m probably at the other end of the stick. I thought we had a great farm system. And it was free. But it is what it is now. The NCAA.
Question: Do you think there would be less scandals…
Walsh: Well I’m not going to comment on that because I am not in that world anymore. I just think that when guys went to college for four years, when they came out, they were ready to go to the pros. They receive great coaching, they receive a college degree. So when they come into this world they were ready. We as teams now, we have to make up for that when they get here. We’re doing the best we can. We’re fasting getting to a point where we can do it well, but it wasn’t traditionally so what an NBA team did when it started.
Question: Being that you want to compete sooner than later, are you more apt to go with a player who can contribute right now than a player who might be a project and might take a year?
Walsh: It depends who it is. It really depends on how good I think he can be eventually. And that can be an older guy or a younger guy. You have to look at that.
Question: There are a few small point guards in this league. How important is height as a fact for point guards?
Walsh: Well I would like them to be bigger than smaller, but there are obviously some smaller point guards who are making an impact on the league. I think a lot of that has to do with the rules on the perimeter, so they are not counted out just because they are smaller anymore.
Question: Do you think it’s easier for them to get along in today’s NBA than it used to be?
Walsh: Yeah, I do. I think the floor has opened up a lot. It’s very hard to guard some of the quickness that’s coming into the league particularly with smaller guards, without putting your hand on them and that’s a foul now. Back when I started they could pick you up with one hand and that wasn’t a foul. (laughs) But yeah, I think its better.
Question: Is this your last lottery pick in New York?
Walsh: I hope. Well I’ll say this, whether I was in New York or Indiana, I hope this is my last lottery pick. I never like being in the lottery.
Question: As the Celtics and the Lakers have proven the last couple of years, if you take on salary, there are big time players available if you want to make a trade. Do you think that will happen again this year given how many teams are trying to cut costs?
Walsh: Yeah, I think the guys you think can make a difference to take you from a losing team to a winning team, people will make the investment. But if its close, they might night.
Question: Do you think there are teams that are willing to take on salary anymore?
Walsh: Yeah, I do. I mean, I think there will be, if they see its going to push them up into a winning team. Because if you have a winning team, then you fill the stands and you make a lot more money. And I think that’s the way those teams think. And they want a chance to win the playoffs.
Question: Do you have a better feeling about the David Lee situation today than you did when the season ended?
Walsh: Absolutely not, because I’m not allowed to talk to him or his agent. I mean, I can say hello and that kind of stuff, but no I don’t. I won’t know that until July 1.
Question: How is (Danilo) Gallinari’s recovery?
Walsh: Good, from what I’m told. He went to a photo shoot for the league I think, so I haven’t seen him in about a week. But all the reports I’m getting back is that the operation was a success, and whatever remains to be done is more rehab, and then I have to talk to him to know exactly, but it doesn’t seem to be a big obstacle for him. The doctor is at the point where she’ll let him go play now. But I haven’t talked to her. But he’s close.
Question: Can any pick you make be influenced by what you might possibly want to do later in the summer in free agency or trades or whatever?
Walsh: Well, you are always influenced by what you need and what you might do. So yes, those things could come into it. I’m at a stage now though where I’m trying to see who is the best player for the team, and I’m assuming if you do that, then those things will be there.
Question: Any sense of what the chances are you are going to stay at eight at this point?
Walsh: No, I mean, how many trades get done in the draft? Whatever that percentage is, that’s what it is. Everyone wants to move up all the time.
Question: How confident are you after this offseason ends that you can make the playoffs?
Walsh: Well look, that’s what we want to do. Confident? Well I won’t be confident until we do it. I mean, we’ve got to go out and do it. You can go out and talk about it all you want, but the idea is to try to get to that. And I talked on my first day here, that the most difficult thing will be last year and this year because you’ve got to be very careful with what you’re doing if you have a strategy, like trying to stay under the cap?
Question: How’s Eddy Curry?
Walsh: He’s doing well, from everything I’ve heard. I did see him one day on the day of the Chicago thing, I went up to Detroit and watched him work out. And he’s working very hard, he’s losing weight, and he’s starting to get his body to look like an athlete’s body again. I have to give him credit for working as hard as he can work to try to do it.
Question: When you watch the Finals and you see how the playoffs shook out, bigs are valuable. You have one that a couple of years ago was in the conversation to be an all-star…
Walsh: Yeah, and bigs are valuable in the playoffs. That’s when they are at their best and you really need them, because they can distort the game. And he’s a low post player. Now, at the four and sometimes at the five, you get guys who are standing outside shooting. But when you get to the playoffs, that isn’t as dramatic as having a guy they have to double-team and have to worry about all the time. So you always want that.
Question:What about Jonny Flynn?
Walsh: He’s a guy, who even in college, if you catch him on the right day, even in these workouts, this guy, if teams want a certain type of point guard, then you go for him.
Question: What about Sacramento and all the talk about them and what they might do?
Walsh: Well they are the eye of the storm right now. Everyone is trying to figure out what they are going to do, and it will be different tomorrow.
Question: Hypothetically, if Rubio is sitting there are eight, is it a slam dunk that you would take him?
Walsh: It depends who he is with. I can’t predict who he will be with. But I think there are other players who are on his level. He has experience, a great game, flair - but like most players in the draft he’s got some things he does better than most NBA players and he some things that he doesn’t do. And I can’t think of anybody in this draft that doesn’t fit into that category. That’s where he is. He’s like 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5. That’s a big guard.
Question: Is that what you like most about Holiday, that he is a two-way player?
Walsh: Yeah. I mean, he’s a good player. And he is good defensively, yeah.
Question: Of the guards, is Evans the most explosive going to the basket?
Walsh: Well, he is one of them because he is powerful and he has a great handle. If he gets kind of an opening, he is very strong so he gets there. There are a couple who get there one quickness, he gets there because of that. And he can pass too. If you help off on him, which you are probably going to have to do, he will get the open guy.
Question: Is he a combo guy? Is he more of a two in your mind?
Walsh: No. I think he can play both, but he will be a point guard eventually in the NBA. You can post him. I think he weighs 215.
Question: Does he have to work on his shot a little bit?
Walsh: Yeah, but I didn’t see – all these guys that I heard couldn’t shoot, that would be the quote, I didn’t think they were that far away. So I think all these guys they are saying that about, they will get better in the NBA because most players once the concentrate on being a pro and are shooting all the time, they get better. And their form, these guys forms at this point, they are not bad. I mean, he shot it well when he was here. He was hitting threes. He shot it very well.
Question: Are there questions about Stephen Curry defensively?
Walsh: Well, I think you have to have a system for all these players, and to me, a guy like Curry is smart enough to figure it out and learn how to play in the NBA defensively.