ON HOW HE LIKES TO BUILD, THROUGH THE DRAFT OR FREE AGENCY?
SP: I think you’ve got to have a balance with how you build. It’s like anything else, you want to be able to pull from different talent pools. We’re no different. But you also have to make sure in this day in age you don’t put yourself in a position where you can become boxed in or stagnant. And that’s where making sure that you make sound forecast and investments when it comes to managing the cap.
ON WHO NEEDS TO HAVE THE BIGGEST DEVELOPMENT FROM THE CURRENT ROSTER?
SP: Kevin has been really working hard, both in the weight room and on the floor. We’re pleased with the progress that he’s made. Jeff Green continues to work and get better. I think both those guys will come back improved. And with a year under their belts I think they’ll walk in the door with more experience, and I don’t just say that from a basketball standpoint. I think they’ll know what to expect in terms of the travel, the schedule, the demands of time that takes place on players having had the opportunity to work through that. But we really look for development from all of our players in the off-season. It’s not just relegated to the players that are younger. We have coaches that will reach out to the players in the off-season and visit them and work with them. So we really do expect all of our guys to come back better.
ARE YOU MORE CONFIDENT GOING INTO YOUR SECOND DRAFT?
SP: I don’t know if confident is the right word. I think you certainly always want to try to improve and get better. You certainly want to continue to make good decisions. And I think that having our system in place and our process in place for another year certainly helps us as we move forward.
WHAT TYPE OF PLAYER DO YOU THINK BEST COMPLEMENTS KEVIN’S SKILLS?
SP: I think the interesting thing there is Kevin is still so far away from being a finished player. There’s so much room for him to continue to grow and build on his game. His versatility allows us flexibility as we continue our roster. I think that’s another asset that Jeff Green brings as well. When you look at Kevin, there’s potential for him to play (shooting guard, small forward and power forward) as he develops. And then Jeff is a player that can defend (point guard through power forward) on any given night. He’s a tremendous asset when teams go small because he can play (small forward and power forward). So the versatility that those guys bring is helpful, not just on the floor but also as we add pieces because they can be utilized in so many different ways. That allows flexibility for our coaching staff as well.
WHAT TYPE OF TEAM DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE THE SONICS?
SP: We’ve continued to be consistent with how we want to try to build our team and what the identity of the team is that we’re striving to build. We really feel like we have to develop a defensive identity. It’s something that we work at every day and look to improve on every day. We feel like this is an organization that’s going to focus on playing on both ends of the floor. We want to build a team that plays together and plays for each other. And we really want a team as well that competes. As we look for players to add to our roster, we want to try to find players that fit these characteristics and these qualities. And we’re not going to be able to find that in every player that we bring in, but the overriding identity of the team is one that we really want to have a defensive identity and a team that competes from possession to possession.
HOW IMPORTANT IS MINNESOTA TO THE REST OF THE DRAFT?
SP: They’ll certainly have a big impact on how things start to fall. Lucky for us they can only pick one player, so that gives us the opportunity to be a little more prepared than say if you’re picking multiple spots behind them. But they have the first crack at it and we’ll be ready regardless.
YOUR SCOUTING REPORT ON MICHAEL BEASLEY?
SP: A tremendous talent. Michael’s a guy where production is a word that probably comes to mind with a lot of people when they talk about him. He has the ability to shoot the ball and rebound the ball and has great hands. He’s going to be a very valued piece to any team that he goes to.
ANY FEAR OF TAKING BROOK LOPEZ OR ANY OTHER BIG MEN WITH THE SONICS’ RECENT HISTORY?
SP: Each draft is different. You have to always look at the draft from the perspective of where you are as a team. And you have to take the player that you feel best suits your situation. So past drafts or anything like that can’t really enter into the equation. You have to do what’s best for your team at that current time. Johan and Mo and Robert were all drafted and we still have high hopes for all of them and all have improved since being drafted. With that said, if we feel as if the right decision is to go with a big player then we won’t hesitate to do that.
HOW IMPORTANT IS A POINT GUARD TO THE SONICS RIGHT NOW?
SP: I think we can upgrade in a lot of different areas across the board. I wouldn’t pin it specifically on one position. But we have to get better. We have to address a number of different needs that we have, because we didn’t finish the year the way we want. And at the same time we have a plan in place and we plan to follow that and be diligent and methodical with it because we feel that will give us the best opportunity for consistent success, which is really the objective for the organization. We won’t be able to address every need right away. You have to do it over time. You have to do it methodically and you have to make wise decisions. That’s what we lean on our staff and our process to help us do.
BUT DO YOU AGREE WITH THE EXPERTS THAT SAY POINT GUARD IS YOUR BIGGEST NEED?
SP: Like I said earlier, I think we’ve got a lot of areas where we can improve. When you finish a year with 20 wins you go into the off-season knowing that you have a lot of areas that you need to improve. Certainly we want to try to upgrade our backcourt. We also want to try to upgrade our frontcourt. We want to continue to get better defensively. So there’s a lot of different ways we can do that, and some of that is just internal development as well with the development of your current roster and the players coming back.
DO YOU EXPECT TO MAKE SIX PICKS THURSDAY?
SP: With six picks you have a lot of opportunities to add players to your organization. That’s a lot of picks to have, but you don’t know. It’s just too dynamic to predict. We’ll be prepared to take all six. We’ll also be prepared to look to try to use those assets in other ways if needed.
DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE A LOT OF PLAYER MOVEMENT THROUGHOUT THE LEAGUE?
SP: I think there will be a lot of activity, because the draft itself is pretty dynamic, especially in the very front of the draft. I think there will be a lot of teams that see players fall to them that maybe they didn’t think would fall, because it’s kind of an eye-of-the-beholder draft with the first 13 picks or so. I think there will be a lot of intrigue with what’s happening in the front and how it will affect the latter half of the lottery.
DO YOU LIKE WHAT YOU SEE WITH THIS YEAR’S INTERNATIONALS?
SP: I think certainly the NBA went through a phase where there was a real focus on International talent in the first round. I think it’s started to lighten a little bit. But we still always see a lot of people looking in the second round to find internationals there as well. There’s some talented international players in this draft. I think it’s still to be determined as to where they’ll be selected. But I think it further emphasizes that the international game continues to expand and has value to NBA organizations.
WHAT KIND OF VALUE DO YOU SEE WITH THE 24th PICK?
SP: I think there’s a depth to the draft going back into the 24th and 32nd picks. A lot will depend on what happens in front of us. But I think that there will be an opportunity to get a quality player there. And if we don’t like someone that’s there, I definitely feel like the asset itself has value if we look to move that. But we like the depth of the draft toward the back end of the first round and the early second.