is the baby faced assassin
Join Date: May 2008
Location: YO MAMMA
transcript of the interview was posted at Realgm:
Q: Was there ever a moment over the last 2 weeks where you thought you weren't going to get Masai?
A: Yes. Every day. I will give our owners credit. We set our sights at the highest level, and it was funny, I know a lot of people were bantering about Phil Jackson, but the reality is, Phil's probably not going too far from his fiancee, so we knew he wasn't leaving southern California. But he gave us a lot of good advice. I think Masai was the No. 1 guy on our list, but we understood as the new NBA EOY, the chances of prying him away from Denver were not great. We knew they had a great season, they'd won 57 games, he was very well respected, very close to Josh Kroenke. So we knew that every day that we were battling, and that we were trying to pull off a bit of an upset. But I think when Masai and I finally sat down and spent an entire day together at the end of that day, I began to believe we're going to get him.
Q: When did he call you exactly?
A: I'm learning here that some of the media, some of the social sites, get ahead of us. I know that's amazing. But we weren't really done for a while, we had a good visit about a week ago, a little bit more than a week ago, about 10 days ago. And then he had to go back to Denver. And they were in the middle of naming Patrick Roy as their new (president). We agreed we'd be patient to allow him to get through the process. By the time it started leaking I will acknowledge we had a handshake and an understanding for a couple days, but we were trying to get through the paperwork. We did an analyzation (not a word, but he said it) of this organization by going out to speak to key people in the NBA, then once we reached a conclusion on what we needed to do here, we went out and spoke to a half-dozen candidates while going back out to people in the NBA to talk about who's the best candidate possible. Once we turned to Masai, it only took about a week.
Q: This is not the first time this org. has hired an EOY and hoped everything would change. Why is this different?
A: I like to look at the last 2 GMs I hired. One was Dean Lombardi in L.A. and we won the Stanley Cup, and the other was Bruce Arena and we won back-to-back championships with the L.A. Galaxy. I will give everyone the right to bring up the last experience here if I can bring up the last GMs I hired.
Q: Before we move on, I have to ask about Bryan and his mood today. You can say everything under the sun, but I have to believe privately, this is a disappointing day for BC.
A: I think anyone who ultimately takes pride in what they do, anybody who's passionate about the task at hand, would look at this and have a difficult day today. And I believe that's accurate with Bryan. He was helpful with me on Masai. He was helpful with Masai and convincing him to come here. He understands that as the pres/GM of bball operations, MU will make his own decisions, pave his own path and report to me directly. Masai has gone out and already begun to build his new staff, and we've spent the last 2-3 days recruiting. That's all going to get done in the next couple days, and the staff is going to be phenomenal. We're going to put together one of the best staffs in the NBA. And Bryan hasn't been part of that. And that's hard. The chatter is more perception than reality, but it's a tough day, and I wouldn't expect anything else of Bryan. He's a proud man and I think he's disappointed that he didn't get to finish the job he started here. I think in time the task we're asking him to jump into, he'll understand are critical, important and all-encompassing. (He rambles a bit here, not important)
Q: DC is a defensive guy, he ran that system with the Mavs, and that ideally is what he'd like to do with his teams. How is that different from what Masai and you want?
A: I think it's what Masai wants to do. It's important people understand the roles and responsibilities. Masai has an organization he wants to put together. Again, like we did. If we're going to do this, let's go find the best one out there and the best one is the NBA EOY. He's doing the exact same with the rest of his staff. We're aiming high with the people we want to bring here. And it's a very good group. I'm helping with that. The relationship between him and the coach, the decision to bring the coach back, the decision to the style of play, that's 100% Masai and I trust him. I believe it's not lost on Masai that 2 years ago, Coach Casey did an excellent job on the defensive scheme here, and last year we got away from that, and there were philosophical differences on the style of play. It was hard to define the style of play, the culture, and exactly what the Raptors were trying to emulate within the NBA when they played. I don't think that's going to happen this year. It's going to be spoken with one voice, and it's going to be Masai's. And Masai's going to set the tone with the coach. And I'm going to back him 100 per cent. And I also know success will come with one master and he's it.
Q: When do you want the coaching situation clarified?
A: We announced Masai today but we worked yesterday, today and through the weekend on recruiting. We went through the org. chart, he made the decisions he wanted to make, I helped him with the tough conversations we had to have with people here. He identified who he wanted to go after, he told me to go fetch, and I ran, I went like Jerry McGuire into the living room and tried to help people understand the commitment we have here and the resources we're giving people to be successful. I'm amazed at how quickly he figured this out. He made a decision on the type of org. he wants and the people he wants. He is very driven. He completely understands what we need to do here. This will not be, 'Hey, I need a year to learn how to do the job.'
Q: You've spoken about rebranding. I'm going to go another way on it. There's a guy on your roster right now who I believe has been hurting the image of your team for years, and it's Andrea Bargnani. From an imaging standpoint, I think it's undeniable, he's been a cloud over the organization for whatever reason, and I think it's a problem for the team. What are your thoughts?
A: I'm very happy I have a president/GM here who's responsible for that process and decision. It is certainly not lost to me or him that we have a first pick in the draft that has not lived up to expectations. But Masai reminds me that one thing we need to do a better job of, is whatever assets we need to utilize, you certainly hope those assets are appraised at a very high value. And so task number one is we're not going to go out and ultimately say anything bad about any asset we have. Because our goal in life is if we have assets we're going to move, we need to maximize the value of those assets to get back whatever we can. We do not live in denial. We do not have our head in a hole here. But when it comes to our resources and our assets, we're going to stay high because we know we need pieces here and in order to get some of them, we have to create as high a value we possibly can on things we currently own.
Q: Have you and Masai had any discussion on players you deem untouchable?
A: I think what MU and I have talked about is, before we lock in on a philosophy, there's probably 3 directions he could go with the current roster. One is a complete rebuild. Which means tank it and try to get the best picks we can in an extraordinary draft and hope we get some lottery luck. And by the way, have a lot of pieces, not just a pick, you're going to need a bunch of picks. The other way is you say there's a gigantic master trade we could do today that gets us another piece or two and with our existing pieces, suddenly we're competitive and we can be something more than a fringe team. And the third way is a combination of those two, and you build on the fly. He hasn't made that decision yet. We've talked about all 3 in depth, we've talked about the trials and tribulations of all 3 in depth. What I've made very clear is that I will support him in whichever direction he chooses tog o in. But it's important for him to meet the coach, talk to the players, and assess what we currently have before he goes off and makes a recommendation to us and makes a decision on which direction he wants to go in. It won't take him long. He's already talked to a few of the players. He'll get most of that done in the next week. He and the coach have talked. So he's engaged. And I think we're going to have a pretty good idea of direction in the next two weeks. That'll coincide with us having our staff in place. The one thing I'll tell you is that it's time for this organization to show action, to put up, to make decisions, to bring in resources where people look at us and say: give them credit, they aspired to find the best GM, they got the EOY. The other four-five positions they found the best people in the industry and convinced them to come here. What people are going to see is that by the time the draft rolls around, we're not only going to have a plan and a direction, but we're going to have the people necessary to have the best chance to implement that plan.
Q: Masai mentioned the young Canadian kid coming up. How important is it in your big-picture idea, not only from a competitive standpoint, that this team become more Canadian?
A: A lot. Look, if we win, we'll be more Canadian. I think all aspects of the country will love us and we'll have 36 million fans, all new. We understand that winning cures everything, and the easiest way to hold this as Canada's team is if you're holding the Larry O'Brien trophy. (Rambles a bit) Bryan, who's very involved in Canada Basketball, and Masai, who's very knowledgeable about these kids, and this organization are going to take a leading role in continuing to develop the sport because we're now seeing in 2014 and 2013 a number of very good kids that are coming out and drafting tha tare coming from Canada. and Would we like ultimately to have some of those players on this squad? Yes, it would make our life much easier as we go out and try to build Canada's team. But we understand first and foremost that you pick the best player and put the pieces together you need to win, and when we win that championship, we'll be draped in the Canadian flag.
Q: If you were to walk into free agency this year, what would your sales pitch be?
A: I"ve been a part of the NBA for 30 years, and I've been fortunate to develop relationships. Some of them have been like family and brothers to me. I'm probably closer to Magic Johnson than anybody in sports, and we've had a relationship that's been important and special to us for 20-plus years. And Magic is saying that with you and Masai there, everyone's going to understand the commitment to winning, the passion, and the fangs you have, because everyone knows your reputation. You want to win championships and anything short of that is unacceptable. And now that you got the EOY, you're building the image and brand, and players notice that, other staff notices that, the NBA notices that. So amazingly we're already having conversations with them about national and international content games that we've never had before. Players are going to know there's a new era here. Players are going ot know we're building the best front-office we can build. And when you see the roster being put together and the choices Masai made, I have to tell you, even I'm blown away by the people who are coming here. And every player will look at that group and those execs, and tey're going to say these guys are committed to winning and they have owners with greater resources than anybody in the NBA. We're going to get noticed and that's going to be our pitch to players.