2014 ESPN NBA Conference Finals Media Call Transcript


2014 ESPN NBA Conference Finals Media Call Transcript

Earlier today, ESPN NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Avery Johnson discussed the Eastern Conference Finals and the Western Conference Finals on a media call. Rose will next appear on Kia NBA Countdown on Saturday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m. ET leading into Game Three between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat at 8:30 p.m. For more details on ESPN’s multiplatform Conference Finals coverage, visit ESPNMediaZone.com.

Here is the replay of today’s conference call.

Q. Have you [suffered a concussion] on the basketball floor?  If so, how did you deal with it?  With Paul George, I’m curious, as former pro athletes, how did you handle those situations, if, in fact, you [experienced them]?

AVERY JOHNSON:  Fortunately, I never had concussions or concussion-like symptoms during my 16-year career.  I do believe that a lot of guys had a lot of concussion-type symptoms and concussions and just played through it during the era when I played.  The protocol in all of the different research obviously wasn’t as extensive as it is today, but I don’t know what it feels like to have a concussion.  Fortunately, I never experienced that.

JALEN ROSE:  And I don’t think I have, either, in a professional game.  There was a time when I was elbowed in my mouth and I lost my tooth, and obviously, that makes you a little dizzy and woozy from that process. I’m not sure if it was a concussion in high school playing against our rival, Cooley High, you probably saw some footage of this in the Fab Five documentary.

I was kind of going up for a dunk and a gentleman from the other team clotheslined me and I fell on the back of my head and I went into convulsions on the floor and obviously they needed paramedics or whatnot.

I was unconscious the entire time. They carried me on the stretcher from the one end of the gym to the exit and as I hit the cold weather, because it was the middle of the winter, they put me in the back of the ambulance and I just remember waking up and seeing tears in my mother’s eyes. I went to the hospital and did all types of testing and spinal testing and neck testing and I was real stiff for a couple of days. I stayed in the hospital for like 24 hours.

I missed one game and I came back to play.  And I don’t think, besides saying the wrong thing sometimes or doing a lot of crazy things, that I’ve had any other ill effects, I guess.

Q.  When you guys look at this series in the Western Conference Finals, what has impressed you most about the Spurs and what has surprised you about the way the Oklahoma City Thunder have played after two games?

JOHNSON:  You know what, for me, I’m not really surprised by anything with the Spurs.  Prior to the season on our NBA Countdown show, I picked them to not only return to the Finals but to win the championship this year.  So I’m not really surprised.

I think Pop does a great job of managing those guys during the regular season.  They are built for the playoffs.  They are built to win a championship.  They are deep; they are hungry.

So I’m not really surprised by anything.  Everybody around the country is going crazy about the Spurs’ ball movement.  They have been a great passing team for a long time and they will continue to be a great passing team.

I think the one thing that I am a little surprised about with Oklahoma City is how Westbrook and Durant struggled, especially last night in such an important game, and just how difficult it is for them sometimes to get shots, just to get clean looks.

So whether you want to attribute that to the Spurs’ defense, whether you want to attribute it to Oklahoma’s lack of setting great screens or getting great ball movement or maybe isolating too much, I am surprised at the lack of quality shots that the Oklahoma City Thunder are getting, and specifically Westbrook and Durant.

ROSE:  And one of the things we have debated on our Wednesday show with Doris Burke, because me and Coach were on opposite sides of this. I felt like Oklahoma City had what it takes to come out of the Western Conference. Obviously I stuck with my pick, even though Serge Ibaka went down.

But when you look at all of the top teams, especially in the Western Conference, they all have something in common:  two All-Stars in Houston, Portland, Clippers and Oklahoma City.  The teams that have three – like the San Antonio Spurs have a big three and now they have evolved with a big four with Leonard, and the Miami Heat who have Chris Bosh along with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, those are championship teams.

And when you lose your third-best player like Serge Ibaka, your best front court player, and the most agile front court player that can rim protect, but also take 15 to 18 foot shots and when he gets going, he can make threes and he can play center in small lineups.  He gives them flexibility and versatility, but also he gives them confidence.

When Russell gets a little emotional during the game or Kevin Durant may think about putting his head down, the first person that’s always over there to grab one of them or to thump them in the chest or tap them in the backside of the back of the head is always Serge Ibaka.

So to miss that player, it does take away the heart and soul of your team.  Look at how they scored points in the paint in the first game.  But that by no means takes anything away from the Spurs.  They have been absolutely terrific.

And we can joke about this on our show.  It’s like that great TV sitcom or soap opera that we have been watching for 30 years that you know what to expect; the ball movement is there, dribble hand-offs, give and go’s, backdoor cuts, pick and rolls from different angles; they move, cut, play with and without the basketball.  You don’t see that on a nightly basis in the NBA, especially with their knockdown shooters Danny Green and Patty Mills. They are a well-oiled machine and they have the coach of the year in Pop.  They do look like the best team in basketball right now.

JOHNSON:  And I’ll just add one more thing.  And it’s not taking anything away from Oklahoma City.  You know, when they beat the Spurs the last time, they had Ibaka, but another guy – who Manu Ginobili would call Manu Ginobili’s twin, and he’s playing in Houston, James Harden – and it’s just hard to overcome the type of productivity James Harden had against the Spurs when they beat them 4-2 and also Serge Ibaka.

And now you’re asking guys like Jeremy Lamb to step up and try to fill James Harden’s shoes or Reggie Jackson, it’s just not going to happen.

In the last series with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Clippers had basically a seven-point lead and Chris Paul had a couple of malfunctions at the end of that Game 5.  That series could have gone a different way.

I do expect the Thunder to win a game in this series, but the Spurs really look like a dominant team.

Q.  This question is sort of Draft related.  First for Jalen, when you came out as a junior, how long did it take you to get used to the NBA and to be a contributor on your team?  Has too much depended on some of these young guys to contribute right away, when you assess this Draft and the age these guys are?  And for Coach Johnson, how did you view rookies when you were a coach?  Did it depend on the rookie?

ROSE:  Coming into the league, obviously your game is going to dictate your minutes and your opportunity, your work ethic; earning the trust of your coaching staff and the organization and more importantly, of your teammates that they can rely on you, even though you’re a young whippersnapper.

That’s the basic premise. As a rookie, as a young player, you’re to be seen and not heard.  You’re supposed to be there early, you’re supposed to leave late, you’re supposed to take care of all of the tabs on the road, you’re supposed to make sure the vets have donuts, you’re supposed to make sure they have newspapers and make sure you’re not saying the wrong thing to the media.

All of these things have nothing to do with the score of the game, but there’s nothing more important than to earn the trust of those other 14 guys.  So regardless of where you get picked, you have to do that first and foremost.

Now, where you get picked a lot of times does dictate your altitude.  Look at a player like Kawhi Leonard.  The best thing that could have happened to him is he doesn’t go in the lottery, as opposed to a player like Ben McLemore, who got drafted by Sacramento, where they were trying to find minutes for about six guards.

So for me personally, going to Denver, I was playing for a team that had playoff success – that had a lot of guards on their backcourt and I was just trying to come in and fit in and that’s what you want a young player to do.

But if you come in and you’re a lottery pick, you’re a top five pick, they expect you to produce. They expect more than the Cavs got out of Bennett last year.  If you go in the Top 10, to me, you should get a productive player; top five, you want a franchise player; and Top Three player, you hope he becomes a great player and/or a superstar player one day.

So that’s the expectation based on where you get picked but ultimately when you put your hand in the pile, it doesn’t matter where you get picked, because everybody still has to earn the same respect.

Q.  How did you view rookies when you were a coach?

JOHNSON:  I view rookies basically as, you know, kids that obviously would need a lot of rope, a lot of string.  There was a bigger learning curve that they never experienced any NBA training camp, regular season games.  In a lot of ways I had to be really patient with rookies that I’ve coached, whether it was Devin Harris, Derrick Favors or MarShon Brooks.

I just think you have to really know your rookie inside and out in terms of his background situation, definitely his playing career even going back to high school and know the type of coaches that he’s played for.

I tried to utilize a lot of patience, and with rookies had what I would call a teaching voice. The easiest thing to do is have your frustrated or your intense voice.

But rookies need to grow and develop.  Obviously they need discipline, but you have to really understand that particular rookie’s learning curve, his ceiling but it requires a lot of patience.  If he’s good enough to play, if he’s good enough to start, he will be in the lineup and he will play the minutes because that’s what NBA basketball is all about.  It’s about winning games and helping your team get to a championship. If he’s good enough to be a part of a rotation, be a part of a starting lineup, that’s what it’s going to be.

So for me, it was just all about trying to help rookies maximize their potential by understanding that it’s a different type of a learning curve for them as compared to veterans.

ROSE:  Stability is key for a young player.  My rookie year, I had three coaches.  My second year, I had one, and my third year I had a coach and then my fourth year I had a coach.  There was a lot of change as a young player, and that stability of where you get drafted really means a lot.

Q.  Jalen and Avery, what do you think about the exchange between Westbrook and Durant in the second quarter last night, as well as their body language throughout the game?  Do you think that Westbrook and Durant exhibited leadership qualities last night, the body language, particularly the incident in the second quarter?

ROSE:  There is no right way to act when you get beat down except, put your tail between your legs, get to the locker room, say as little as possible and get on the bus.

When they disagree, when they show frustration, you expect teammates on a winning team – you can chastise your teammate and it is okay, because you have the same championship caliber goals.  On a losing team, it becomes an argument.

And whether it’s a superstar or it’s a guy that’s a Derek Fisher on the team at this point in his career, or Caron Butler at this point in his career, everybody has an equal voice, especially if you’re right.

At that point, Russell Westbrook, what he was telling Kevin Durant was accurate. He had just gave up a couple of threes to Danny Green.  Manu made a rainmaker that almost hit the top of the ceiling before it fell in.

So all of a sudden, those three baskets go in and you come to the other end of the floor and you call time out. I think he would have looked at Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher, any other player and would have done the exact same thing because at that crucial point of the game, even though it was in the first half. Back to what I was saying about Serge Ibaka — you need that big guy.  You need that third person to be like, ‘it’s all good – we got this.’

It’s one thing to be a leader when you’re playing.  It’s another thing to be a voice when you’re playing versus not playing.  And guys that are playing the kind of minutes that have the influence that Serge has, it’s going to give him a different voice to keep everybody in calm in times of turmoil like they had last night.

JOHNSON:  Personally I could take an hour on this subject but I’ll try to shrink it down into a one-minute answer:  I didn’t like it; I loved it.

I think we need more of that.  And people get confused in terms of the perception of what was going on.  That was two star players, and specifically Westbrook holding his teammate, who just so happened to be Kevin Durant, accountable –accountable for missing a rotation, accountable for not being as focused defensively as he should have been and it happens in the huddles of time-outs all the time.  But that outward display of passion and accountability, I loved it.

And when I played, David Robinson and I, or Tim Duncan and David Robinson, they maybe had their conversations in the huddle.  I was in situations quite a bit like Westbrook, and I think it’s good.  I think it’s healthy.  I don’t think it’s trying to show your teammate up.  But a lot of times when you lose the game, that’s when it’s looked upon as a negative or the body language is bad.

Dirk Nowitzki did the same thing to Jason Terry in the 2006 Finals when we lost to Miami.  So basically, a lot of reports were saying that Dirk’s display of leadership wasn’t healthy.  Now, he did the same thing to JJ Barea and Jason Terry in the 2011 Finals and they won, so then it was great leadership.  I think it’s great leadership whether you win or lose.

Q.  Obviously Jason Kidd went directly from playing to coaching. I’m just wondering what you think about guys making that transition and particularly how you believe Derek Fisher might fare in that regard?

JOHNSON:  Well, the NBA is pretty much, you know, kind of like on Twitter, and I’m new to Twitter; but you have that area where it’s trending.  A lot of times in the NBA, it’s kind of whatever’s trending and right now you see a lot of guys that haven’t coached getting an opportunity to coach without any coaching experience and that’s kind of what’s trending now.  And I’m all for it.

The owners have prerogative to hire the guy that they think best fits the needs of their organization and for me, I would be a hypocrite, because I was in a similar situation.  I went from playing directly to an assistant head coach of the Mavericks and I was only an assistant for a couple of months before Don Nelson resigned and I took over the Mavericks.

So I had four guys without any head coaching experience.  That’s kind of what’s trending now, and I think in the Knicks case, it’s whomever Phil Jackson feels the most comfortable with that can bring in basically the type of program he wants implemented  without him actually coaching.

In the case with the Nets, the Nets actually wanted Phil Jackson, they wanted Doc Rivers.  Those guys didn’t say yes, and for whatever reason, and Jason Kidd, he pretty much fell into their lap.  Obviously he did a pretty good job this year, and I believe Eric Fisher, having played against him and coached against him, I think he has the DNA and the capacity to make the jump from playing to becoming a head coach.

So I’m very confident that he would do a good job, given the right type of roster, the support staff and the present ownership.  I think he would do a great job.

ROSE:  I want to piggyback on what he just said. In the area of analytics the on the job experience that these players have had doesn’t account for when you talk about them being a first-time coach, how many planes and buses they have been on, how many films and huddles they have been in, how many games they have participated in, how they have seen it from so many different angles.

Look at somebody like Kevin Ollie, who as a young basketball coach when he won the NCAA Championship, and all of a sudden he’s a high commodity as an NBA and/or college prospect but at this time last year he was not.  And the first thing a lot of people point to is how it was good that he played for so many teams during his career – I want to say around ten teams, because he actually got a chance to see a lot of things and the way they were done by coaches, by organizations, so that probably gave him an edge.

I played for Larry Bird.  He had three of the most successful seasons in a row that the Pacers had in their tenure.  He was never a coach.  He had Rick Carlisle to be the associate head coach and on the offensive end in particular, as well as a Dick Carter who was like the defensive coordinator.  Or Mark Jackson, who did work in the media and coached basically for the first time without being an assistant and having the success he had with Golden State.

It’s organizational belief. It is locker room belief but these guys are not rookies by any means.  Jason Kidd has a Ph.D in basketball because of what he’s seen on the floor.

JOHNSON:  Let me just add one more thing, again of what I’m saying is kind of what’s in in the league right now.

A lot of assistant coaches who didn’t play in the NBA that got coaching jobs last year, whether it’s a Mike Budenholzer, Steve Clifford – a lot of those guys had one of those guys’ teams won the championship this year, and then a lot of owners would have been trying to duplicate that type of coach in their organization.

So I just think that’s why a lot of guys like George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Byron Scott, a lot of those guys haven’t got jobs; where guys like Steve Kerr got a job; now Derek Fisher is being talked about, because that’s kind of what’s in right now.

You have a lot of guys that are qualified that are still terrific coaches, but it’s just a different cycle right now in the NBA in terms of what owners are looking for.

ROSE:  If I get a gig, I’m coming to hire you, Coach.

JOHNSON:  I guess that would be based upon my Mavericks record, not my Nets record.

Q.  I wanted to ask actually a Draft question, specifically with the Lakers, considering their seventh pick and who you think might be available at that point. Who do you think would be the best fit for them?

JOHNSON:  I personally think probably Julius Randle, the way he can put the ball in the floor – kind of a Zach Randolph with better ball-handling skills.  He didn’t show it in college but he has a better outside game.

I think right now on Chad Ford’s big board, he has Julius six, but if he can slide to seventh, I think with Kobe Bryant coming back, the way Kobe loves to play with guys that have high basketball IQ, that know how to pass the basketball, playing without or without the ball. I personally think if Julius slides ahead, and I had him in the top five, but if he slides to seventh, I think he will be a great fit for the Lakers.

ROSE:  And also I think for the Lakers, I think their situation is different from the Celtics, who are both looking — as teams that have had the most championships in NBA history to get closer to the top three, so they can probably get one of what would be considered the top three prospects before there’s a falloff in Embiid, Parker and Wiggins.

But based on the Lakers past and having Kobe Bryant with two years and almost $50 million left on his deal, my guess – and this is another story for another day – I think they should hire Byron Scott for that job.  Kobe is one of the main reason and having familiarity with the organization, are you the Lakers saying to Kobe you’re trying to rebuild by bringing in this young player or are you trying to move that pick and/or flex any leverage you can to try to turn that pick into Kevin Love?

But the difference between the franchises – the Lakers with that cap space, I think are more apt to attract a high-level type free agent or two, depending on how much they are willing to spend, if it’s not a max player – versus Boston, who doesn’t really sign high-level free agents just off of their free agency and they just decide to come to Boston.

But if they are going to take the pick and use the pick and the players there that are discussed to be in that range, I agree with Coach in saying Randall. In the Western Conference, look at the force.  If you look at all of the top at the point, we talked about Serge, Tim Duncan is playing at a high level, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. You need somebody up front that’s going to be able to go against Zach Randolph, get you a double double and make them work on the other end, an inside/outside combination, and I agree with coach, it should be Julius Randle in that range.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about the Cavaliers and who you think might be a good fit to coach these guys; is it a more attractive job now that they have the No. 1 pick in the Draft?  And Avery, you were talking about trends in coaching, and do you see a trend about the president/coach position or is that an isolated thing with Detroit?

JOHNSON:  I’ll answer your second question first.  I hope it’s not an isolated thing.  I believe coaches, whether it’s the Stan Van Gundy situation or the Doc Rivers situation, obviously Coach Pop has had it for a long time.

In an era with players that are coming in, younger and younger every year, you’ve got to put a coach at a position where he has full autonomy to get the job done.  In an era where in some situations players can go above the coach to complain to management or complain to ownership and next thing you know, the coach is fired, that’s not good for NBA basketball and it’s definitely not good for coaches in general.

So I would hope that coaches would be in a position like a Stan Van Gundy or a Doc Rivers where not just in title but having the type of range that they have and I want to use the word power. Sometimes that can be misconstrued where they can actually just do their job, but also in terms of who is being drafted, who do you cut, who do you bring in the summer league.

And I think you look at the R.C. Buford, Gregg Popovich model, it’s worked well for years.  You look at Doc; he’s off to a great start with the Clippers and then Stan Van Gundy.  I think it’s a good thing.

In terms of the Cleveland job specifically, I think there are a lot of great candidates out there, and I think that job is much more attractive now than it was a week ago.  They have cap space and obviously the first pick. They have some really good young pieces.  This is a terrific free agent class this summer.

So yeah, I don’t have one specific candidate in mind.  There are a lot of terrific guys out there that can do a great job, but it is an attractive-looking position.

ROSE:  I think I’ve pretty much given my answer already, Coach.  I’d have called you right after we got that pick, I’d have got on the phone with you.

JOHNSON:  Thank you, Jalen.

Q.  Jalen, you actually played against Michael Jordan.  What was it like playing against Jordan?

ROSE:  I was hoping you would ask me about Bridgewater and whether they should keep Peterson or not.

Michael Jordan, it’s like a tale of two    well, it’s a tale of three MJs for me.  I grew up a Pistons fan as a Detroit native, and I never truly got a chance to appreciate his greatness and Larry Bird’s greatness in particular, because they were our rivals.  And I rooted against them for so many years that it clouded my judgment about how great it he was.

I remember who is the best between Michael Jordan who was the scorer, and Dominique who was also the scorer before Phil and Horace and Scottie Pippen, and then he obviously went on to become a great six-time champion.

And during that period of playing against him in ’98 in the playoffs and we took him to Game 7, if I had to refer to a scenario, it would be how we were beating them by 17 points in Game 7 in Chicago and all of a sudden he and Scottie Pippen just turned up the defense and it was like they were future Hall of Famers and we were like a ninth grade girls’ team the way they took the ball away from us.  Not to diss us in any way, shape or form, but that’s how great he was, and they were.

And I think it was his competitive spirit. It was his will to win. He was almost always the best player, not only on the offensive end but also on the defensive end. He imposed his will and leadership on the other players.  He could post, he had strong hands, and as he got older he developed into a great three-point shooter.  That’s why he became the black cat and the greatest player of all time.

And then my last memory of Michael Jordan is, yeah, he was definitely Superman; but now I’m coming into my prime and playing the Wizards. I’m going to see if I can turn him into Clark Kent. I was playing in Chicago a couple of times when his return happened, and trying to go at him, who by the way was still averaging 20 points, basically, maybe the only All-Star, and was the only guy on their team at his age to play all 82 games.  And so I have a terrific amount of respect for him.  But I did feel good about one time against with the Wizards I was able to drop a 30 on his head.

JOHNSON:  I don’t know how much more I can add to that.

Michael, in my mind, always was the most underpaid player in our game.  Whatever a salary cap was at that time, he should have gotten all of it.  He’s the most fierce competitor on both ends of the floor I’ve ever seen in my life.  He always came through on the biggest stages at the biggest moments.  He was relentless, high, high, high basketball IQ.  Greatest player ever.  I can’t say anything more than that.

ROSE:  I’ll another word that neither of us mentioned:  Absolute clutch.

JOHNSON:  Yeah, yeah.

And do I have a favorite memory?  I would say one game they were coming in to play us with the Spurs and Bob Hill was our coach at the time and Bob Hill jokingly told the 2 guard, whose name I won’t mention, that you’re not going to guard Michael, Avery is going to defend Michael and the 2 guard didn’t say anything and the coach was just joking.

So we got through shoot around and I’m guarding Michael Jordan.  And then we got into our pregame routine and still the same, you know, Avery, you’re going to defend Michael and the other guy is going to guard Ron Harper or somebody.

So I started the game off guarding Michael Jordan and he looked at me in the first play of the game and I can’t tell you exactly how he said it but the clean version is:  what the heck are you guarding me for (laughing)? Is this a joke?  So he proceeded to score a gazillion points on us, but I had a pretty good game, too.

Q.  Just wanted to talk about Kevin Love; do you think it’s a smart move that they trade him?  Do you guys think that it’s inevitable that he has to go? 

JOHNSON:  Personally, I think the handwriting is on the wall.  We’ve seen this movie before.  It’s a situation where Kevin has not been in the playoffs, he’s endured some really tough seasons in Minnesota.  I think he wants to get to that next level, and from the comments that I’ve read, he’s standing on the periphery and it looks like he wants to go into a different situation where he feels he has a better supporting cast, where he will have an opportunity not to only get to the playoffs but to win a championship.

The timing sometimes can be a little bit tricky.  I don’t see anything happening around Draft night.  But I definitely see anything happening with him after the first and I’m not sure exactly where it’s going to be.

Obviously there’s some attractive situations out there that you can have instant success with – whether it’s a team like Houston, who has always been looking for a stretch of his caliber or whether it Cleveland. Or I’m hearing a lot with the Warriors, that obviously would make a lot of sense.

I think the Warriors would probably make more sense than the Lakers, based upon the Warriors’ roster.  But I think the handwriting is on the wall, and I think at some point, he’s probably going to be moved, especially if he’s saying behind the scenes that he’s not going to be willing to sign an extension and proceed further with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

ROSE:  I’ll piggyback what Coach said – I really think this marriage is pretty much about to end in divorce.  We see all three sides kind of defending their points and Kevin acknowledging he’s not going to sign.  If you can’t give somebody $90 million, something’s wrong with that relationship.  The owner said he’s not going to trade him and he’s a terrific asset.  I would allow teams to get a little more desperate and allow it to play out, because all the teams that are in play that we hear that he may or may not want to go to are trying to make these moves before the season starts.

But if you’re Minnesota and you have the asset and between now and the trade deadline, I think teams are going to get desperate but not turn it into another Dwight Howard situation where he doesn’t get anything.  I don’t think Ricky Rubio’s comments helped the scenario, either, talking about his leadership in the locker room.

And for those who say, can he go to a team and be the first guy, there are levels in the NBA, there are superstars.  So you’ve got Kobe and Tim Duncan and you’ve got LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  Look, these guys are superstars.  The next level is All Stars:  Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, James Harden, Steph Curry, he falls into that category, and also Kevin Durant even, because I don’t think him and Russell Westbrook have elevated to superstar status.

So that being said, where he goes I think should be a place where they have a center that’s going to do the dirty work, because while he’s going to put up video game type numbers 20/20, 30/20, shooting threes, step back threes, he’s not a defensive force around the rim because he didn’t average a block per game.

So if you compare him with a Noah in Chicago or Dwight Howard, a possible Embiid in Cleveland or even like a Marc Gasol which I know that’s not going to happen per se in these analogies, I think he does need to be with a team that has an established big man.

And I think and I saw in ESPN Stats and Info, a statistic that I really like.  They basically said that he’s going to be the most productive player with his wins above replacement since Charles Barkley when he got traded to the Phoenix Suns.  So wherever he goes, he’s going to be a productive player and I think he still does have what it takes to produce that in the playoffs and be a part of a championship caliber team.  I respect his game that much.

Q.  What do you think the Wolves need to get in return?

JOHNSON:  I think they ought to get somebody that’s maybe approaching the star level.  I think they have got to at least get two players in return and definitely a high first-round draft pick in my opinion.

ROSE:  See, that’s the issue with trading a player like him is because based on the teams that I’m hearing, whether it’s Golden State, Houston, Boston – they don’t have that verge of the All-Star caliber player like I think Golden State has with a guy like Klay Thompson; but I’m sure if you want to bring on Klay Thompson and your Golden State, you’re obviously want to keep your backcourt attack.  That’s what makes it tricky.

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