Transcript: ESPN NBA Analysts Doug Collins, George Karl Appear on Media Conference Call


Transcript: ESPN NBA Analysts Doug Collins, George Karl Appear on Media Conference Call

ESPN Media Zone: Audio replay

On Monday, veteran head coaches and ESPN NBA analysts Doug Collins and George Karl appeared on a media conference call to discuss the start of the 2013-14 NBA regular season. ESPN’s coverage will begin this Friday, Nov. 1, with Kia NBA Countdown at 7 p.m. ET, followed by a blockbuster doubleheader: the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat visiting the new-look Brooklyn Nets and the defending Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs visiting the Los Angeles Lakers.

Collins has joined the Friday and Sunday editions of Kia NBA Countdown with Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons and host Sage Steele. He will also work select NBA on ESPN game telecasts throughout the season. Karl will appear regularly on SportsCenter, NBA Coast 2 Coast, NBA Tonight and additional news and information programming.


Q.         Do you think that Dwyane Wade will help push the Miami Heat to a possible third NBA Championship and also how should they use him this season to preserve his health?

GEORGE KARL:  I’m concerned about Dwyane Wade’s injury.  Everything today seems like organizations are hiding information on exactly what’s wrong with a player and what’s going to happen.

There’s a lot of secrecy to injuries.  But my feel, from talking to some people, is Dwyane Wade might not be an 82‑game player anymore.  He might be just a 60‑game player, which wouldn’t be bad.  Don’t get me wrong.  But there’s a wear and tear that players put on their bodies.  Dwyane Wade is on his knees and going to the rim and playing many postseason games.  His career’s been long and there was a wear and tear on his body last year that was somewhat obvious.

And I’m concerned about that with Miami.  And I don’t know if that means that someone’s going to expand their game. Is Beasley going to come in and give them a big lift or is Oden going to come in and give them 20 minutes a game? I don’t know other than I think there are so many teams that are close to Miami this year that if you gave me a choice of betting the field versus Miami, I think I’d take the field.

DOUG COLLINS:  Let me follow up, obviously Dwyane Wade last year in the playoffs struggled with that knee.  I think you heard Erik [Spoelstra] talking about it a lot and Dwyane went through a lot of criticism because his game wasn’t at the highest level every night we’ve seen him play at. I think I saw something the other day that LeBron James has played more minutes in the last three playoffs than he did in one regular season.

Those are hard, heavy minutes.  Then, you throw in summertime when they played for the Olympics and those kind of things.

San Antonio prides themselves on having a lot of corporate knowledge within their organization – they know what to expect from one another and what they need.  I think they can be honest with one another inside that locker room.  If Dwyane Wade needs the night off, I think he’s going to take that night off, like George said whether they have enough to pick up the slack on a nightly basis.

But LeBron is playing at such an incredible level right now I think they’ll need more from Bosh this year.  I think Bosh is going to have to be a guy that consistently scores more for them and I see they’re talking about playing him in different spots offensively.

And Miami could very well be one of those teams where once the trade deadline comes, like they did last year with “Bird Man” [Chris Anderson], they pick up a guy that gives them another body.

I’m not going to pick against Miami as long as they have LeBron, as long as they’re champions, but this is going to be a long grind for them.  There are a lot of good teams in the east.

Q.         Doug, NBA Countdown has had a lot of change over the years with its staffing.  Why will the grouping of you, Sage Steele, Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose work?

DOUG COLLINS:  Well, you know, I think we’re all committed to that happening, Richard.  I think we went in last week into LA and we spent about three or four hours together and we just talked a lot – John Wildhack came in and Mark Gross came in – we talked about the philosophy, what we want to get accomplished, what we want the show to be, how we’d like to be able to do that. There’s an old expression in coaching where you define roles and hopefully guys believe in the roles, stay in the roles and star in the roles.

I think we all bring something a little differently, which I think is terrific.  I think having Sage as a host is going to be good, because I think that she can be that person coming in and out of commercials, throwing into commercials or promoting dialogue, knowing when we need to move on to something else or maybe when to keep expounding on what we’re talking about.   Sure it’s my goal and I think it’s everybody’s goal that we can make this a show that people are going to enjoy watching.

Q.         Just wondering what you guys think of Andre Iguodala’s addition to the Warriors and kind of what you think about the direction of their franchise?

GEORGE KARL:  I think when that deal went down, I said to myself that there’s probably not a better team for Andre than Golden State from the standpoint of his personality.  Andre loves a team to play as a team.

I think the only thing he’s had problems with in his career was when teams wanted him to score 20 points.  Golden State doesn’t need him to score 20 points.  They need him to do everything that he does at a high level – from defense to playmaking to picking up and covering the ball or taking the number one defensive player on the court.

He’s a very good rebounder.  He’s a very good assist guy.  He’s a real professional.  So I think it’s a great fit.  And I like Golden State a lot.  Some people are saying that Golden State, there’s a lot of flash and dash, but in the same sense there’s a lot of depth to their skills.  They have Bogut who comes in the playoff series and basically took them from a good team to a very good team and beat us because of his defensive presence in the paint.  They got young kids that are getting a little bit better.  Their room for growth is out of sight.  I think Golden State is going to be playing for the home court advantage somewhere this year, come April, come May.

DOUG COLLINS:  To follow up with George, I had Dre for two years, and in Philadelphia when he was making the kind of money he was making there and was the signature player, I think people feel like if you should score X number of points, you should be the guy at the end of the game to have the ball in your hands, to do different kind of things. And, Dre is a guy that can dominate the game without scoring in double figures.  The guy is going to be able to lock down on the perimeter with whoever you want to put him on, with his speed, with his size.

He’s very, very smart.  I mean, I think George talked about it.  He does his preparation.  He’s as good a pro as you’re ever going to be around.  His addition enables Mark Jackson to go to a small lineup.

I like Golden State.  I think last year they were a much improved defensive team. I’m with George. I thought when Bogut was healthy in game six his rebounding and his defense around the rim won that game for them.

The one thing I saw with Golden State last year was I thought that in some games they got careless at the end of the games with turnovers.  And I think they’ll have to do a better job closing games out.  And I think sometimes teams that find it easy to score go through those stretches and I think this is a team, I’d like to see their point differential go up and I’d like to see them do a better job closing out games and bringing their turnovers down.

Q.         Where does the Thunder need to improve to get back to the NBA Finals?

DOUG COLLINS:  Obviously Oak City, when they’re healthy, has a great chance.  To me, the first thing is going to be hopefully Russell Westbrook doesn’t miss too many games.  He can come back and be healthy and play at that level but he’s played at ‑‑ because he and Durant on the floor – these two guys on the attack mode all the time are both very good free throw shooters.

To me, and George would know more, because he prepared to play against them, but I always felt they were a first option team offensively, where let’s run a quick-hitting play.  Let’s get the ball to Durant and his sweet spot or let Russell bring it down let him get him in a spot and go.

And I think personally even when they’re healthy, I think that they’re going to have to be a little bit better half court offensive team this year where if that first option is there maybe get to the second or third because defense has become so good.  Can Serge Ibaka be a third scorer for them every single night on a consistent basis?

We know he does a good job blocking shots and shooting the mid‑range jump shot.  But with Westbrook off the floor right now I think Reggie Jackson will do a nice job.  But what it does is bumps up a guy who was on your bench now to be a starter.  So how good is your bench going to be? Do they have scoring coming off the bench?  They’ve lost Kevin Martin.  Sort of amazing when you look at their team.  They’ve lost James Harden.  They rented Kevin Martin for a year.  And now Westbrook is hurt.

I heard them talking about Durant being a little bit more of a facilitator and helping Sefolosha and Jeremy Lamb and some of these guys get shots.  But I just hope for their sake that Westbrook is not out too long, which puts a lot more on Kevin Durant to do a lot more to start this season.  They’re well-coached.  Scotty Brooks does a great job.  They play good defense.  But the things I talked about to me would be a few concerns right now.


GEORGE KARL:  My big thing is Westbrook’s health.  I think actually him missing the first four or five weeks this season can help Reggie Jackson get better or Lamb to improve his game where they can figure out their bench or their personality better.  But the whole thing comes down to Westbrook’s health.

They haven’t replaced Harden.  And Harden has probably panned out to be the number one playmaker, and they miss the playmaker that makes the team happen. I wish they would win more games because they were a team rather than they just have so much offensive talent in Durant or Westbrook or the three-ball.  They don’t win enough games playing as a unit, with unity and harmony.

And I think the key to maybe replacing Harden, you might not have to go out and get a scorer guard or a 2 or 3 man. Ibaka – can they get him from averaging whatever he averaged last year, probably the low teens, can they get him up to 15 and 8 every night, consistent, and then when he has the big nights it’s 25 and 15?  I just think he is a talent that has had spectacular nights for him but his consistency has been up and down. And I think they’ve also got to replace Harden’s dynamic personality coming off the bench.

DOUG COLLINS:  Ibaka reminds me, George, of what Nene was for you in Denver.  He was the guy that was maybe a 14 and 8 guy who could always be 20‑10 was sort of reluctant to go into that rare air kind of thing.  And to me Ibaka has to get more of an ego doing that, doing it within the team concept and knowing how much they need from him. I harken back to a couple of years when they had Harden, Westbrook and Durant. Those three guys were in the fourth quarter free‑throw shooting top five in the NBA and Harden was first.  When you could put that ball in his hands and let him create and then make a play for Durant and Westbrook to be on the receiving end as scorers, I mean I’m with George, I don’t know that they’ve ever replaced that, and I don’t know that they can.

Q.         For both George and Doug, has it already happened or do you guys think that this is the year that the Clippers finally own L.A.? 

DOUG COLLINS:  I mean, to own L.A., it’s going to take more than just one brilliant year.  I don’t think there’s any question right now that the Clippers are the superior team. You have to remember that team won 56 games last year.  It wasn’t like they didn’t play pretty good basketball through the course of the year. I think going into the playoffs last year, they had won maybe seven, eight, nine in a row.  I think they won their first playoff game and obviously they weren’t able to match up with the strength and toughness of Gasol and Randolph on the line. B

Can Doc stay big at the end of the games?  Will he trust Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to be on the floor late in the games?  DeAndre Jordan has not been a good free throw shooter and Blake Griffin historically has not made the mid-range jump shot or not a good free throw shooter.  They have to have more offense.  Chris Paul is a maestro there.  They’ve added shooting with J.J. Reddick and Jared Dudley.  And they have bigs and also the pieces are there in a lot of ways.  But their report card is coming in April, May and June and as I said that front line to me is going to be critical.  When Doc won a championship in Boston, in many instances he went through a small lineup and put Posey as a 4.  He had four guys that year who made over 100 three’s in the season, to spread the floor.  It will be interesting to see if they can play power basketball throughout and win it with two bigs in fourth quarter.

GEORGE KARL: My whole thing is I think the Lakers are in kind of a weird state.  I mean, can anyone figure out

when Kobe is coming back?  What are they going to do with the rotation?  Are they going to play fast?  Can Nash play 82 games?  There are so many question marks about the Lakers that the Clippers, they’re the celebration of L.A. right now.  And they deserve to be. That organization, which for most of the last 20 years, has been maligned for doing not very much or anything at all.  They went out this summer, they probably knocked a grand slam.  The combination of Reddick and Dudley and getting Doc to come and re-signing Chris Paul.  And they have energy.  Their team has energy and karma right now.

But people forget, in December of last year they won 16 games in a row.  Didn’t lose a game in the month of December.  Everybody thought they were already there last year.  I think they’re a young team from a standpoint of winning in the playoffs.  And whatever they do in the regular season they’re going to be graded on how they perform in the playoffs.

Q.         I just wanted to ask you and get your thoughts on the emerging back court in Washington with Bradley and John Wall and your thoughts on how they can progress and if the Wizards have a chance of making the playoffs this year?

GEORGE KARL: They beat us twice last year.  And they beat us once at home and they beat us kind of right when we were playing really good basketball.  So I have a lot of respect for their basketball team.  I think their expectation is to make the playoffs, and if I had to pick them, I would say they’re going to make the playoffs.

I love John Wall and his speed with the ball.  I think the way we played in Denver last year we liked the guard to be always on the attack mode and he’s one of those guards that is so fast with the basketball and is so committed to penetrating the ball into the paint that he makes a lot of things happen. And, he’s gotten to be very, very good at making good things happen more often than making bad things happen.  The Beal kid, Young, in the second half of last year had shot the ball extremely well.  He reminds me a little bit of Ray Allen early in his career, his ability when you get him open – he’s got a quick release and he’s deadly and he has a confidence to his game that I think is first class.

How they fill in their bench is a big part of what they’re going to be and how they’re going to perform.  I’m a big believer that the bench is a key to a lot of teams that win championships.  And I think right now with some of the injuries they’ve had I don’t know what their bench is going to be like, but I think they should make the playoffs.  I think they expect to make the playoffs and I would bet they will make the playoffs.

DOUG COLLINS: They started out 5-28 without Wall.  But they were 24- 25 with Wall, which would have been a playoff team last year. I think a real key for them is Nene. How many games can he play?  He’s so vital to them.  Good offensive player.  I think he’s going to be very happy to have Gortat with him.  I love Wall and Beal and what they bring.  They’ve got to shoot the ball better.  I thought last year people didn’t realize what an improved defensive team they were.

They really, really did a good job on the defensive end of the floor.  Can they get easy scores, can they get out in the open court, can they knock down three’s? I’m with George, can Al Harrington and Webster and maybe Maynard give them a bench? Because I know how valuable a bench is and George does too.  I can tell you in Philadelphia I had one of the better benches in the NBA my first two years with Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. We felt our bench sometimes was better than our starters. And then we made the big deal last year and gave away a lot and Andrew Bynum was hurt and Richardson was hurt and we lost our bench and we struggled mightily.

So to me a bench is always the key and when you look at a lot of these people, not just Washington, but a lot of these teams, can they get a proven bench that’s going to help get them through the season, because once the playoffs start and the starters’ minutes go up, obviously it’s a different schedule when you’re not going back to back and traveling as much.

Q.         Good afternoon, guys.  When you look at Love and Rubio, long term, do they defend well enough?  Will they be able to get their shots enough at the end of the game, are they explosive enough to be kind of a two‑man team who cannot only get to the playoffs but lead them to maybe an elite contender down the road somewhere if they stay together? 

DOUG COLLINS:  Well, I like Minnesota’s team.  If they’re healthy, I still think they don’t have a bona fide small forward.  The Budinger injury hurts them.  They’ll have to do a better job shooting the ball.  If we go back to Rick Adelman’s days in Sacramento, he’s always loved to invert his offense where his big men can pass the ball. Kevin Love is such a tough cover.  He shoots the ball, an offensive rebounder, can get in the post.  For Rubio -keep the ball in front of him defensively.  People talk about his defense and stuff.  I think he’s a gambler, get in passing lanes and go behind guys for steals.  But it’s critical to get out of the paint.  I like Pekovic in the paint.  He’s strong.

They have some pieces like Corey Brewer.  He can give you real energy off the bench with what he does.  And where is Derrick Williams now, what’s he going to bring?  J.J. Barea off the bench, I like him as a player.  The Adelman teams have been very good offensively.  When you go back to Sacramento people forget they were one of the number one defenses in the NBA when they had good defensive personnel.  Can they get a defensive identity? I’ve got them with maybe Portland and a couple of other teams down there in the eight spot, maybe Dallas creeping into the playoffs.

GEORGE KARL: I think they’re one of the more interesting teams in the NBA this year. I love how Coach Adelman gets his team to play as a team.  Their offensive efficiency will be good.  I know that because that’s what he’s done everywhere he’s been.  He’ll do that with this team.  The question to me is the defense.  Will the defense get to the point where they can win games? I don’t think they’re going to become the Chicago Bulls, but they have to have more of a defensive dimension and attitude so when they’re not making shots, they go out and get dirty and get tough-minded and win a game by making stops.

I didn’t see much of that over the last couple of years.  But I think they have enough pieces and enough talent.  I would also kind of piggyback on Washington.  How their bench has developed I think is going to be extremely important, because they need their bench to probably be stronger than maybe some of the other teams.

But Coach Adelman does a good job finding that.  Barea coming off the bench could be dangerous, Williams very good there.  Corey Brewer, if they get him back to the bench and move Budinger as a starter, I think that would be important because Corey was fantastic for me last year in Denver.  It’s going to be an incredible race for seven and eight.  Right now, I think six teams that I’m pretty confident in the Western Conference that are going to make the playoffs.  But there’s another eight teams probably fighting for two spots the rest of the way.  But I still think Sacramento’s had a good training camp.  I think they think they can make the playoffs.  That puts seven there.  And one of those teams is the L.A. Lakers.  One is Dallas Mavericks, and Minnesota, and Denver won 57 games.  I think can they make the playoffs at 45, 50 wins. I think they’re talented enough to do that.  But it is going to be an incredible fight for those last couple of spots in the Western Conference.

DOUG COLLINS: New Orleans as well.  Davis vastly improved as a player.  I agree with George, the interesting thing to me is I look at the Western Conference, and you’ve got six teams that I think are in as well, and then you probably got six teams that are fighting for two spots. Whereas in the Eastern Conference, you have sort of five teams that look to be at the top of the scale and then I think there’s about five other teams that are really trying to make the playoffs and four that seem to be playing for next year.  The east is so different.  I think one of the keys is going to be you better beat the teams you’re supposed to beat.  You better not have those nights where you go in and let a team beat you on a night when you know you’re supposed to be able to get the job done and you gotta go out on the road and win. You’ve got to be able to do that consistently if you want to be a threat in the playoffs.

Q.         I’m just wondering, obviously you guys know a little bit about this.  13 new coaches.  Have you ever seen turnover like this and I know each case is probably a little different, but is there a trend?  Is there something you see that’s sort of behind all these changes?

GEORGE KARL: When you have three coaches that won 57, 56, 56, get dismissed and move on, it’s just difficult to understand.  You have nine new coaches that have never coached an NBA game.  And I’m not saying that there’s not nine qualified assistant coaches that couldn’t become good head coaches.  But I just think the whole puzzle right now is – it’s too much.  It’s too much change.

I mean, it’s an incredible time for basketball and I think coaching, I can’t deny there’s a lot of coaches, including myself,  that are trying to figure out and understand why this is happening and what are going to be in the next steps.  Because as a coach you’ve got to be able to adapt to the atmosphere you’re going to be dealt.  If this is the atmosphere we have then we have to adapt to it.

DOUG COLLINS: My situation is obviously a little bit different than George.  He is the Coach of the Year and won 57 games and 38-3 at home. After the Bynum trade I sat with the ownership and I could get a sense that they were going to start all over again and at age 62, I don’t want to coach a team that’s going to lose 60 to 65 games.

At my age, I want to coach a team that has a chance to win.  So my choice to step away was just simply because I could see the organization going in a different direction.  They were incredibly nice to me when I was there.

But I think what’s also interesting is a lot of the new ownership [in the NBA] are hedge fund owners and businessmen that are very, very involved now with their teams.  And a lot of these guys, it may be hard for them to talk personnel in certain ways but the one thing they can talk is numbers.  That’s the language these guys speak is numbers.  I think that’s a factor.  I think it’s smart to use analytics, but at the same time to me there’s the eye test, there’s the heart test and that test every single day when you’re with players in practice developing a trust and a truth with one another on how you want to win basketball games.

Q.         If I could follow up with George – Doug spoke about analytics.  How did you use that sort of thing and what do you think the right role for it is?

GEORGE KARL: I think analytics are great.  Coaches, I think they’re searching every day.  We’re searching for something can it make our team better.  I think what analytics has done for me over the last couple of years is we think this is how we want to play and the stats would say ‘this is a good way to play.’  And that’s where we kind of teamed up with one another and it worked.

But I think the roster and personnel people and analytic people all got working with the coaching staff to find a unity, a harmony. When you bring negative energy to your organization because of conflict or a confrontation or disagreement and you make that known to the locker room, you make that known to the players in that locker room, you are disserving the organization, the coaching staff and the team, because an organization that has unity can win championships.

And staying together and believing in each other and building a trust within an organization is as important as building that same trust with the players and coaches.  And everybody’s going to come together and I think analytics can help us get there.  But we can’t use it as a negative force.  If we use it as a negative force, to point fingers and put blame and shame into the locker room, into the organization, it’s very, very dangerous.

Q.         My question is about Derrick Rose and his return tomorrow night.  Obviously, I want both of your opinions on this, but Doug, with your background dealing with the Chicago Bulls, obviously, I’m sure you have a lot of insight on this.  Do you think Derrick, if he comes out tomorrow night and looks like he always does, or looks as great as he has in the preseason, all those negative feelings in Chicago will be erased or do you think it’s going to take some time to kind of heal that situation from last year?

DOUG COLLINS: I was a player who went through injuries and I understand the sensitivity of injuries.  That’s why as a coach I always said if a player told me he was hurt and couldn’t go, that he was hurt and couldn’t go, because I was told as a player that I had a low threshold of pain and couldn’t play through injury, when I was trying to play with two broken feet and a lot of different things.

So I understand that dynamic.  There’s a lot of noise now out there, that as a player and all, as a coach, you got to try to stay away from.  And, I think Derrick knows all the things that were said.  He got hurt in the game where we played him in the playoffs. I saw him come down, and I saw him get hurt.  I knew what he had done because I had torn my anterior cruciate.  I could tell from the injury. And it’s a shame, and George knows this, these are the things that when you get this kind of chatter going and stuff, it’s hard.  It’s hard to stop it.  But the most important thing to me is the respect you have in that locker room of your teammates and of your coaches.  And to me everything else follows.

I don’t think there’s any question that Derrick Rose is incredibly respected by his teammates and by his coaches and by everybody that’s involved.  So to me that’s the most important thing.  So a big part of being a championship team now, I give Miami a lot of credit, is being able to sort through all that kind of nonsense, put it behind you and not let it interfere with the task at hand and for the Chicago Bulls that’s winning a championship.  And I will tell you I’ve watched them in preseason.  He’s been magnificent.  Shooting, double-digit free throw attempts, shooting the ball.  He’s got great speed.  He’s looking for contact.  He’s going to make the game a lot easier for every teammate that he has on that court.

GEORGE KARL: I think it’s time to forgive and forget what happened last year, because the kid is ‑‑ I’ve watched him play 20 minutes in a game against Milwaukee.  I was looking for a guy that was kind of feeling his way back.

What I saw was a guy that was trying to be one of the best players in the game already in exhibition season.  His speed, his form on his shooting, everything that he could improve through his rehab, his body, his speed, his jumping, his shooting, he’s improved it.

He was a committed professional.  Now, sure it would have been great if he would have played in the playoffs last year, but I think right now they made the right decision.  They had a very good year last year without him.  That team fought hard, came together, won close games.  They beat New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs.  They had a great year.  Now they get Derrick Rose back with Gibson playing better.  They add Dunleavy to the bench.  They have a better nucleus than they’ve ever had to win a championship.

Watching them play you know who is the boss, you know who is the leader of the team.  You know who is the guy that’s going to carry this team.  And he wants that responsibility.  So let’s forget about what happened last year and watch this young kid come back and play great basketball.

Q.         Could you elaborate about Coach Steven’s rise to the NBA and the challenges he will encounter?  And Coach Karl if you could tie in any similarities in his transition to the NBA, do you see any similarities between yourself and Stevens with your ties in Seattle and as well as Cleveland?

DOUG COLLINS: Brad Stevens is a tremendous young basketball coach.  He took Butler to back-to-back Final Fours.  I’ve watched his team play against Duke in the national championship game.  Very tough defensively.  They played with an edge.  He’s smart.  But it’s a huge adjustment to come to the NBA.  The games are longer.  I’ve said before, and maybe George can expound on this, the rules, the way he can move the ball and all the different things that go into it.  I think an NBA coach makes 10 to 15 times more decisions in an NBA game than what a college coach does.

And I think Brad’s going to have to adjust to that.  They’ve given him six years on his deal.  But I will tell you, and George will tell you this, losing in the NBA is dog years.  As much as you might want to prepare yourself and say, hey, we’re going to take it on the chin this year and maybe next year and maybe in year four we’re going to be ready to go, very rarely does the guy last that long with all those losses. Although, Danny Ainge has been great with his coaches and great with Doc through a couple of tough years there knowing he didn’t have the personnel.  It will be a big adjustment for them.  The number of games, the back-to-backs, the player preparation, and learning personnel and what guys like to do.

George has been in it 30 years, I’ve been in it 30 something years.  We know these players and nuances; those are things he’ll be learning on the run.  But he’s a terrific coach. Seems to have a nice temperament and personality about him.  But make no bones, in real estate its location, location, location, in basketball its talent, talent, talent.

Q.         What’s the expectation of Brad Stevens in year one?

DOUG COLLINS: I don’t know Rondo’s status but he’s their best player.  To me, here’s my expectation as a coach.  I never put it on wins and losses because that would always take care of itself.  At the end of the season, I always looked at my team and said did ‘I get the most of my team? ‘

Did we do as well as we could have done and if we didn’t, if we underachieved, what was my role in our team underachieving or not playing to its maximal ability, not getting the most out of the players.  So at the end of the season, we don’t know what Danny Ainge and he are going to do as the year goes on.

So I don’t know.  I mean, his big thing is to continue to learn the league, coach every night, get the respect of his players. Th thing that Chuck Daly said long time, God bless him, he said there’s three things you can’t fool:  kids, dogs and NBA players.  They know if you know what you’re doing or not.  That’s the big thing you have to do as a coach.  You have to walk in that locker room and have the respect of your team.

GEORGE KARL: I like the choice of Brad Stevens as a coach of the Celtics.  I thought out of the box, giving him a six‑year contract, he will give Brad the opportunity to learn the NBA game.  About 10 years ago I interviewed for the Ohio State job.  And somewhere along the way in the interview process I ran into Bobby Knight.  And he said ‘what the hell are you interviewing for a college gig? It’s a totally different game than the game you coach.’

Bobby Knight – a lot of things he says are crazy – but he said something at that point 10 years ago that I thought was really true.  The NBA game and college game, even though it’s basketball, it’s tremendously different.

And those are the things I think by Danny Ainge giving Brad a couple of years to learn the differences, learn how to build his rotation, learn how many decisions you have to make with timeouts and substitutions and changing the pick‑and‑roll defense, changing up your matchups, putting your starters in the game, when to put them in the game, when to take them out of the game.

It’s a roller coaster ride of tremendously talented basketball teams and coaches going nose-to-nose in a chess match every game.  I think his team with Butler might win more games than the Boston Celtics win this year but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad year.  His judgment right now is on whether his team will improve every 20 to 25 games.  Will his young players buy into the philosophy and the energy that he wants to bring to the Boston Celtics and the Boston Garden?  It’s going to be a fun experiment to watch.  And I’ll be honest with you, I like his demeanor.

Q.         Doug, you’re getting back into broadcasting, George making the plunge, what excites you guys the most about sitting down and being broadcasters?

DOUG COLLINS: Jim, from my standpoint, I’m going to have a couple of different jobs this year.  I’m going to be doing studio, something I haven’t done a lot of.  I’m going to be doing Friday/Sundays, but also 10 Wednesday games.  I also get to go out and do the games.  When I’m doing games one of the things I used to always love to do, is if I was in Denver, broadcasting a game, and George was coaching Denver, and they were getting ready to play San Antonio and Gregg Popovich, for an hour and a half I would be George Karl. I always loved my time before games with the coaches.  I always felt like I learned something.  When I sat with George before a game to help me with the game, I always felt like I learned something with these coaches.

Those 20 minutes I got with them, I always felt it helped me not only with the broadcast, but also to understand the game better.  And what I want to do is I want to help educate the fan, to make them better able to watch an NBA game.  They see the pictures, but why is that happening?  How is that happening?  And I think our job as broadcasters is to take these people to where these coaches are trying to get to. I think it’s the greatest team sport there is and for me to be able to broadcast it has always been an incredible honor.

GEORGE KARL: For me, I’m excited about being with Doug and about being with P.J. [Carlesimo] and being with Avery Johnson and I think right now I think its fun to have coaches talking about coaching. It seems like right now we’re in a critical period of coaching, and we want to stand up and maybe support and be an ambassador for coaching.

There’s no one who’s going to win a championship without a good basketball coach.  But I believe in terms of the foundation of any organization is one of the first or second things I think an owner should do is go out and find a good coach.  A coach that you can keep there for five to 10 years, because continuity works in this league.

Continuity is successful in this league.  Change, a lot of people are going to the change philosophy, but continuity in San Antonio has shown it’s won a lot of championships.  Continuity in Los Angeles with the Phil Jackson era won a lot of championships.  Continuity in Miami with Pat Riley with Coach Erik down in Miami has shown it’s going to win championships.  And there is something to be said about good coaches and giving them the long‑term support system – they will do good things.

Ben Cafardo

I lead communications strategy and execution for ESPN’s NBA, MLB, FIBA and Little League World Series properties. I’m also a proud consumer of all things ESPN.
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