Wittman, Cassell Transcript

Here is the full transcript from Steve Yanda's interviews with Randy Wittman and Sam Cassell.

SAM CASSELL


Didn't I look like a coach, back then? (Photo by Erik Isakson/Sports Illustrated)

On his decision to join Flip Saunders's staff: I'm very excited. It's definitely going to be different, because for 15, 16 years I was looked upon as a player. Right now, my role has definitely changed to a coach right now. But I'm a leader by nature, and I think Flip brought me here to help him out. And I will help him out to the best of my ability. I'm just a couple months away from the game of basketball as a player, so I understand the trials and tribulations that the guys go through, so I can help relate that to Flip, the head coach.

On his experience helping him as a coach: It's going to help a lot, because there's no situation that those guys are going to be in that I haven't been in myself, personally as a player. Up 20 and lose by two in overtime, or down 20 and win by two in overtime. So I think I'll be valuable in that aspect of coaching. I don't have to tell them what I have done; they saw how I was as a player. Just trying to get everyone together on the same page is our goal as a coaching staff.

On Gilbert Arenas: I have talked to him. He's just enjoying his summer right now. Gilbert is a hard worker, so that's the part that we don't have to worry about. He's going to get his work in, get his shots up, and my job is just to get him to understand overall being a leader, and a leader starts by setting examples, and he understands that aspect of it. So the relationship that Gilbert and Flip and the staff are going to have is going to be wonderful, and we should win some games this year.

On why he wanted to become a coach: It's been a passion of mine since my fifth year in the league. I always knew that once I stopped playing the game of basketball as a player that coaching was going to be my next avenue. I mentioned that to Flip a long time ago when I was playing under him in Minnesota. Once he got the call here, he called me. I'm familiar with Ernie Grunfeld. He was my general manager for five years in Milwaukee, so I'm very familiar with how he works and what he likes to do. One thing I know about him - he loves to win. It was a hard year for him this year; it was a hard year for everyone in the organization, what the team went through. But with this year coming, with our guys healthy, we just got to keep them healthy and have a wonderful season.

On what he learned working with the Celtics this past season: It was difficult, but I understood. I learned so much from Doc Rivers, because Doc knew that I wanted to be a coach in this league, so he showed me, you know, This is your last year, Sam, so these are some things that you're going to have to adjust to, not playing as much. So I was in the coaches meetings in Boston, I was in the majority of the huddles, helping him make some decisions, he asked me my opinions about certain things that went on on the court, and I gave it to him.

RANDY WITTMAN


I'm back with my man, Flip. (AP Photo)

On his reunion with Flip Saunders: I'm excited. Flip and I have been together over the years. We've haven't worked together now for a couple of years, but it's good to be back with him and it's a good situation here. I think, even though it was a tough year last year with record, with injuries, with everything that goes into that, the foundation of what this team has is exciting. So as a coach, that's always part of your job is what can you do and what are the opportunities here for this team. Obviously health, which you never have control over, plays a big part, but we get these guys back healthy, I think this is a team that can do a lot of damage.

On how his past experience as a head coach will help: My first days as an assistant coach and then becoming a head coach, moving over just 18 inches is a big deal. You have an understanding of dealing with the media every day and what that's all about and having an understanding of that to where I can really step in when things sometimes get out of whack for a head coach; you kind of see those things before they develop and kind of can help a coach through those type of things.

On how the game has changed since he entered the league in 1983: When I was in the league, I think it was a more physical game. There was the Bad Boys, Detroit, and all their run through their back-to-back championships. Early in my career it was the Lakers, obviously, and being a run-and-gun team, but always against the Celtics, who were a physical, beat-you-up team. And we've kind of evolved now out of that. You know, with the touch fouls and the no contact, and to try to get some more freedom into the game, I think that's really where this game has changed. I think the athletes have changed. You're seeing more and more seven-foot guys who are playing out on the floor. The Kevin Garnetts, the players of that nature who can play multiple positions. Early on, you were either a point guard or a shooting guard or ... you know, today you've got guys who can sometimes play the 1-4 positions.

On the development of young stars, like Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant: The good players - and Kevin (Durant) is obviously a good player. I think what he's done early on in his career, I think he's going to show that he's going to adapt and learn, and usually that's what distinguishes the good players from the great players, how they adapt. Everybody says Kobe would have not been able to survive going through the beating that Michael Jordan went through early in his career. Eh, I think Kobe's good enough that he would have adapted and learned. Kevin Garnett could play in any era, even though he's a slender player. In all the years I spent with him in Minnesota, he adapts.

On his reunion with Sam Cassell: Back with Sammy. I was lucky to coach Sam for two years in Minnesota. The first year there obviously being a situation where I think I really believe today that if Sam doesn't get hurt in the playoffs that year that we would have won the championship that year when we went to the conference finals and got beat by the Lakers. I know who Sam is. Sam's always kind of had that in him when he was a player. He was kind of a coach on the floor and understanding where guys needed to be and helping them learn how to do that. This was not a surprise to me to see that Sam wanted to get into this as his playing career came to an end.

On his strengths and weaknesses as a coach: Well, I've done a lot of different things. I think that's really my expertise. I don't think you're going to label me as an offensive coach or a defensive coach. I've been in those positions, as well as a head coach and trying to organize all that. I think it's my versatility and what I can do and what Flip wants me to do. And that's going to evolve as he continues to put his staff together, the strengths and weaknesses of each of us and how that's going to develop with this team. Is it going to be more defensive? Is it going to be more offensive? Is it going to be more guard-oriented? Is it going to be more big man-oriented? I've had the luxury of being in this league going on 26, 27 straight years now without missing a beat. To have that opportunity where I've done a little bit of all that. I think as Flip continues to fill out his staff and see what each of us present, those things will be brought forth.

More on Sam: We've talked a little bit. Enthusiasm's obviously the No. 1 thing, and that's something Sam doesn't lack. As we move forward with this, in the summertime especially, this is a good time for guys like Sam with games in the summer league after the draft, working with our young guys throughout the summer that we already have here on this team is a time to lay your foundation of learning the steps. Because it is totally different. I remember my last year as a player, I went into coaching the very next year and it's different. Sam's going to see that. It's not the two hours you put in the gym at practice and then go out and go to the movies. It's a 24/7 job now. But Sam's got that energy, and that's what this job takes. You've got to have energy and enthusiasm for this job, because it's not just the two hours we put in the gym; it's the breaking the film down and teaching guys individually. I think he's going to be great at it.

On the Wizards' young players: The thing about our team that I think it unique is, you know, everybody wants to talk about Gilbert and Antwan and Butler and the guys that have been in the league and have established themselves. Obviously those guys are very important parts, but we've got some young pieces here, too, that we have to develop. The league's changed also in that direction. We've got so many more young players in this league now. When I came out, Magic was the first guy to come out after his sophomore year. Then we had kids coming out after high school, which we eliminated that. Now at least they have to spend a year. But they don't have that thing that you get in college where you get the breakdown and teaching of how to play. We have to provide that; there's no question. And that's changed throughout the years. It used to be, you knew how to get up and deny the wing, you knew how to box out, you knew how to slide. You can't take that for granted anymore.

On what's next for Flip's staff: The teaching part comes now in teaching Flip's system (to the veteran players). They've kind of seen everything, being through different coaches. The majority of these players - I mean Eddie was here for a number of years and Eddie is a very solid coach. That's always a positive, following somebody that has done a job like Eddie did. Eddie had success with these guys, and I think we'll see that. But it's a teaching now of a whole new system, and that breaks down almost sometimes to footwork. Certain footwork works well in one system and it doesn't in this system. So you will still have those breakdown principles, but more towards what kind of system we're in.

By Alexa Steele |  May 23, 2009; 10:38 AM ET
Previous: Wizards Introduce Wittman, Cassell | Next: Weekend Mini-Update

Comments

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I hope Gilby watched the Cavs game last night.

If he did, he would have realized that hitting the game winner during a regular season game to get Les BouleS's fan's jollies off is no where as big time as hitting a game winner to win a playoff game.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 23, 2009 11:14 AM

To Alexa Steele:

We know Mike Lee doesn't work weekends, so you should get some credit along with the rest of the crew via a picture next to Mike's since you posted on a holiday weekend.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 23, 2009 11:19 AM

DCMan apparently wasn't watching when Arenas hit a game-winning buzzer beater against the Bulls in the 2005 playoffs.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | May 23, 2009 11:42 AM

DCMan apparently wasn't watching when Arenas hit a game-winning buzzer beater against the Bulls in the 2005 playoffs.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | May 23, 2009 11:42 AM

Yup.

Posted by: IrenePollin | May 23, 2009 1:07 PM

I can't imagine anyone being more wholly consumed by the thought of someone they purport to hate so much, he did win a playoff game with the buzzer beater and put another into ot with a game tying 3, whatever you perceive gil to have done to spark such animosity you should really get over it, he's played 10 games in two years, during that span nothing could fill the void of hating on gil?

Posted by: bford1kb | May 23, 2009 2:39 PM

"DCMan apparently wasn't watching when Arenas hit a game-winning buzzer beater against the Bulls in the 2005 playoffs.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | May 23, 2009 11:42 AM

Yup.

Posted by: IrenePollin | May 23, 2009 1:07 PM "

Oh my, 2004-05 was so long ago. How did the Les BouleS playoff run turn out?

I recall Larry left after that season, and how have things worked out since?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 23, 2009 3:18 PM

"

I can't imagine anyone being more wholly consumed by the thought of someone they purport to hate so much, he did win a playoff game with the buzzer beater and put another into ot with a game tying 3, whatever you perceive gil to have done to spark such animosity you should really get over it, he's played 10 games in two years, during that span nothing could fill the void of hating on gil?

Posted by: bford1kb | May 23, 2009 2:39 PM "

Sorry, but Gilby's absence was more than enough vindication for me that he is a selfish moron who's jeopardized his team's success for those 2.5 years based on his own self centered actions.

Bravo.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 23, 2009 3:32 PM

insider of the wizards said Gilby was forced to come back early the insider said the team doctor told him both times he was cleared to play when he was 2 month stoo early and thats why he is working out in orlando now not washington anymore becuz the distrust he has for the franchise...and thats why they paid him becuz they knew they were wrong of what they did but im glad hes back to prove everybody wrong

Posted by: MrNoOne | May 23, 2009 7:31 PM

Did you actually type "Oh my" ?

LOL

Posted by: original_mark | May 23, 2009 9:09 PM

Are the wizards getting a new medical/training staff this season. Perhaps Flip Saunders (and the vets) should demand one. I also noticed that Antawn had his surgery on his ankle in NY. Too bad Gil trusted them 3times?

Posted by: washwiz | May 23, 2009 9:40 PM

"Did you actually type "Oh my" ?

LOL

Posted by: original_mark | May 23, 2009 9:09 PM "

I did, Kool Aid Man.

OH YEAH!

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 23, 2009 9:56 PM

"insider of the wizards said Gilby was forced to come back early the insider said the team doctor told him both times he was cleared to play when he was 2 month stoo early and thats why he is working out in orlando now not washington anymore becuz the distrust he has for the franchise...and thats why they paid him becuz they knew they were wrong of what they did but im glad hes back to prove everybody wrong

Posted by: MrNoOne | May 23, 2009 7:31 PM "

Gilby actually F'd himself after the first injury when he declared himself back and rushed back b/c he had a new shoe line to promote.

During that summer was when he did the parachute, the cross town bike riding, and the games at Barry Farms on blacktop with 9 ft. rims.

All Les BouleS fans can hope is that come this training camp/season, we won't be hearing any more tired @ss excuses about soreness, not playing back to back, restricted minutes, etc.

THAT'S ALL BS!

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 23, 2009 10:00 PM

somebody is obsessed with gilbert.

Posted by: G-Man11 | May 24, 2009 12:03 AM

Has anybody looked at the history report...jarvis hayes was never right on the wizards LH BH ET DS AD DS CB GA AJ ...have all told there injury was good too come back and play..as much we the wizards have bad luck ...the insider says every player distrust the med staff becuz EG controls them ....

Posted by: MrNoOne | May 24, 2009 7:27 AM

one more thing to think about...a teammate said in Jan against the heat GA had a xray done and wizards med staff said he needs another surgery becuz he had a crack in his knee...long story short......the miami doc looked at the xray and said theres no crack u hav a inflamed ligament and i can fixed that right here give me 20 sec.and GA told his teammate that the doc told him in private that ur last surgery you didnt need it and i told them that when i seen your xrays in sept..the teammate said when GA got to the GYM he was moving 10 times better...the teammate said befor the miami doc he couldnt run and walk with limping after he was jogging and workingout the same day..I KNOW WE ALL READ WHATS GOING ON BUT THE SAME WAY I LOOKED AT GA IS THE SAME AS EVERYBODY AND IF HIS TEAMMATE DIDNT GIVE ME THE INSIDE ON THE TEAM I WONT CALL HIM A THIEFT BUT NOW I WANT TO WAIT TO SEE IF HE REGAINS THE ALLSTAR PLAY WE REMEMBER

Posted by: MrNoOne | May 24, 2009 7:43 AM

"somebody is obsessed with gilbert.

Posted by: G-Man11 | May 24, 2009 12:03 AM "

No matter how you want to spin it, how you want to go off on a tangent, or how you want to pretend it's personal, Gilby's antics, and sad results, speak for themselves really.

Of course, these sad results can only be perceived by those who don't have their blinders on or aren't snorting too much Kool-Aid mix straight up.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 24, 2009 11:41 AM

y'all take this stuff way too personal. ain't nuthin wrong with being a fan - or even with being a hater for that matter but when y'all start getting all hypersensitive and getting an attitude anytime someone makes a comment contrary to your opinion its time to take things down a notch.

Posted by: blackman1 | May 24, 2009 11:59 AM

Cassell coaching Summer League will be interesting.

Posted by: jeremydvid | May 24, 2009 8:25 PM

So, what's the over under on how long it will take EG to hire a defensive coach?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 24, 2009 9:23 PM

antics and sad results..i love what he did for our city...people know us now he did what the rest couldnt do..take us to the playoffs 4 times straight got us on tv game got the us on a video game ..all becu his antics ...how many games have you watched since he got hurt lol he makes you watch....results ...hurt first year second year got us to the season round WOW and hit a game winner in game 5..LH KB SB JD left the team brung in a new crew and they make it back he avg 29.3 doing it u guys called wade a MVP for avg 30 GA didnt get nothing for it...avg 34 in the playoff.. miss key freethrows to end the run.. the best first series in a long time...JJ JH leaves bring in DS and the wiz kids were number one n the east coast and guess who was MVP can behind Steve.. GA...while hitting 20 out of 22 game winning or end of the period shots if i can remember....didnt play in the playoffs that next and the following year was still hurt in the playoffs so thats a no show didnt play this season no playoffs...so WIZ KIDS MADE 4 PLAYOFF APR AND GA PLAYED IN 2 WITH A SECOND ROUND...if ur a fan be a fan understand what our player do beor we kill them and to put the sugar on top for u ..name another star in the last 15 years to avg 28 or 29 and two other players avg 19 20 also....so much as we call him a ball hog he gets them involved sum how...befor he got hurt he avg 28 AJ avg 20 CB avg 19..and since he has been hurt AJ avg 21 and CB avg 20...so if AGENT or GA which ever one shows up next season im watching becuz he showed me results for the short time he played..

Posted by: MrNoOne | May 25, 2009 2:31 PM

This is very good!
http://www.nowgoal.com/22.shtml

Posted by: suesue8709 | May 28, 2009 5:56 AM

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