It's not every day that you're able to attend an open practice, meet some of the players and enjoy a professional basketball atmosphere in the middle of July. But the Washington Wizards did exactly that, just days before the team heads out to Las Vegas for the annual summer league.
With so much change taking place within the franchise in the past few weeks, Coach Randy Wittman went on the air with "Lavar and Dukes" on 106.7 The Fan to discuss just that, along with myriad other hot topics that Wizards fans have feverishly been discussing since the season's end.
On offseason acquisitions: "Well, we had to get more talented. And we definitely done that, especially with Otto [Porter] and then what we feel what we can do here in a couple days with free agency -- and the people we can add there. Then we have all summer to really analyze what we have, the pieces we have, and see if we can package one or two together and see what else it might bring. So we're not done"
On what he looks at during summer league: "First and foremost it's just to get their feet wet, especially a guy like Otto coming in here, young kid, just like it was with Bradley [Beal]. You want to give them a taste of what it is, what they're going through here these next four days -- two-a-day sessions is a little bit of what they're going to see at training camp. It's very important for them to get an understanding come October to terminology, give them a little taste of the playbook both offensively and defensively so that when we gather in October it's not an ‘oh my gosh' type of thing."
On expectations: "I don't want them to really be temper. I want our guys to think that way. I want our guys to think ‘you know what; this is our year this year.' First of all, obviously you stay healthy, I think we did show what we're capable of doing even when not healthy. We showed from a defensive standpoint what we were able to establish and putting a system down that works defensively no matter who plays. We were in the top 10 in defense even when John [Wall] was out early and Nene was out early, so that's a product that they bought into, so now it doesn't matter who's healthy and who's not from a defensive standpoint."
On the presence of Nene and [Emeka] Okafor: "That was why our defense changed, from a ranking standpoint. We had stability behind us. When you have guys like a Nene, Okafor, guys back there that are gonna protect the rim or put someone down on the ground. You can be that much more aggressive on the perimeter knowing I got this guy behind me that's gonna help me if I screw up out here. There's no question, Emeka is a true professional. We're talking about the young guys and their character, this guy is in here every day of the summer, he just had a baby, the things that he brought from a ten-year veteran that these guys can see -- a work ethic and being a good person on top of it has really helped."
On the starting SF: "That always works itself out. Guys are gonna show me who deserves to play. That's the way it always is. Like I said, as the season goes on you see different areas that you like this combination of players -- now you have an asset that you can maybe parlay into something bigger and better in terms of a trade or something. You gotta collect some assets. We showed last year when we were hurt and some of our main guys were hurt that we didn't have the capability or the talent level enough to keep our head above water till you get your main guys back. We weren't able to do that, so we thought it was important to keep adding pieces to our bench, making our bench a much more stronger situation. We're gonna have plenty of opportunity between [Martell] Webster, [Trevor] Ariza, Otto Porter, Bradley Beal of getting guys minutes. Who gets the majority of minutes - they dictate that."
On having the respect of the locker room: "You guys know me. I am as straight with you guys as I am with my team. What I really respected playing for a guy like Bobby Knight which I did at Indiana University was that was the biggest thing I took from it. He was the most honest person I ever met. He was straight forward with ya, when you were doing good he was letting you know you were doing good and when you needed to do better he lets you know you need to do better. If you weren't playing, you knew why. It wasn't ‘Hey coach why am I not playing?'"
On drafting Otto: "Lucky number three. We were lucky last year in getting a guy like Bradley and I think we're gonna be just as lucky this year with Otto.... I want basketball players. I don't want a guy that's strictly a shooter, a guy that's strictly a rebounder, I want to add people that know how to play the game. This kid knows how to play."
More from Bullets Forever:
- Martell Webster discusses his goatee, frohawk and more important matters
- NBA Free Agency 2013: How does Eric Maynor stack up among backup point guards
- Half-baked trade ideas: Why the Wizards should trade for Pau Gasol
- Bradley Beal injury update: Wizards' guard cleared to run, still questionable for Team USA minicamp
- NBA free agency: Viewing Martell Webster's contract in light of other recent moves