"Yeah, definitely. I think it's the most important for me is to get playing time and just keep improving. Being around the guys in Dallas or Orlando is going to definitely help me to become a better basketball player. Competing against Dwight [Howard] or Dirk Nowitzki is going to definitely put me in the spot where I'm going to play against the best guys in the league. I hope that ... I really hope that I'm going to have a great season next year."
-- Marcin Gortat, Orlando Magic
Ben Q. Rock and I are covering the 2009 Orlando Pro Summer League at the RDV SportsPlex, this week. For the next few days, we'll be watching the Magic play, as well as check out the other teams in the event. Ben will recap the Orlando games and provide his usual insights, as he always does. Meanwhile, I will chat with various coaches, front office personnel, players, and others, gathering their thoughts on a variety of topics. I'm proud to kick off Day 2 of our coverage.
I was able to speak with Orlando Magic assistant coach and Summer League head coach Patrick Ewing, Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, and Russell Robinson - a player playing in the Summer League for the Magic, vying for a roster spot.
Click after the jump for the full transcript.
Could you comment on your team's play against the Oklahoma City Thunder, yesterday?
We did some good things, but we made a lot of mistakes. We hope that we can regroup from what we did yesterday, come back, and win today.
What are some things you want to work on against the Boston Celtics, today?
Trying to get the guys to be unselfish. When they're making their move, if their guy is open, pass the ball. Pass it, move, rebound, block shots, defend. Just trying to get them play a total game.
Do you think Levance Fields or any of the other players that didn't play yesterday will see minutes today?
Oh, yeah. We're rotating our starting lineup.
Wherever you're heading, are you excited to see where your career is progressing, considering where you started?
Yeah, definitely. I think it's the most important for me is to get playing time and just keep improving. Being around the guys in Dallas or Orlando is going to definitely help me to become a better basketball player. Competing against Dwight [Howard] or Dirk Nowitzki is going to definitely put me in the spot where I'm going to play against the best guys in the league. I hope that ... I really hope that I'm going to have a great season next year.
Have you spoken to anyone in particular about getting advice, given that this is a big moment and you're going to be signing a big contract?
Yeah, I've had a chance to talk to a couple of guys. They all told me that I have to stay humble and just don't forget about the stuff that I was doing the last two years. I'm talking about being the first in the gym, working on my game, improving every part of m y game so like I said, it's going to be a huge opportunity for me. I believe I'm going to get more playing time and my role might be bigger next year so I'm just going to try to show that I'm a better basketball player.
What other things would you like to showcase in your game?
I think I'll show a little more offensive skills and hopefully some of the leadership skills. Hopefully I'm going to have a chance to help the team, being as a starter or being the guy coming off the bench and helping the team a lot.
Did [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban approach you personally in hopes of trying to sign you?
I came over to his house for dinner and we had a discussion. That's all.
Were you able to talk to [Mavs head coach] Rick Carlisle and anyone else?
Oh yeah, Rick Carlisle, [general manager and president of basketball operations] Donnie Nelson, obviously ... I had a chance to talk to those guys. I talked to Dirk Nowitzki so they all told me how it is. I asked a lot of questions about the team and everything sounds cool, so we'll see what's going on.
Are you excited to be playing in the Western Conference, if that's where you'll be playing?
That's going to be a new challenge. I've never played in the Western Conference and I'm going to have a chance to play against, I think, bigger competition. We'll see what's going to happen.
Is there anyone in the Summer League that's stood out to you so far, in terms of individual play?
I've only seen ... this is my second game. I'm just watching my team, really, and getting acclimated with how the offense is running. What they're expecting. Getting an idea of what's going on. I think Ryan, watching him ... he was playing a lot better today than he did last game, so it was nice to see that.
Have you been able to give any of the players on the Orlando Magic Summer League roster any pointers?
I'm trying. I can't help it. I enjoy the game and I enjoy helping my team win, if possible so I don't know all of these guys but yet at the same time, if I can help them, I will.
Is there anyone in free agency that you're hoping Otis Smith signs? Have you been able to speak with him about that?
No, I haven't. I'm still out of the loop as far as what's going on. For me, it makes me feel better when I know what's going on because like I said, I like to help the best I can but we'll see.
I was able to speak with Ryan Anderson yesterday and he said you took him under his wing. What are some of the things you did for him last year in New Jersey?
Just more so ... confidence and his comfort. Sometimes, as a player, coach yells at you or says this and you, kind of, don't understand it in coach's terms or what not. Just to have a teammate that who's been there and who he knows that has his back, I think that was the biggest thing for him was just confidence. Having somebody on his side when ... he had the ability to ask me questions whenever he wanted to. That's what I am, that's what I was for him, and a lot of the other guys, even who were veterans.
How excited are you to be able to play with Dwight Howard and the other players? It seems to be a pick your poison type of deal, being able to play with this team.
Oh yeah, when you play on a team like this that has so many weapons, that's surrounded by a great big man, it just makes it fun. I'm excited about it. I feel like I can get guys the ball ... I'm excited to have that shooting around me.
Have you gotten any pointers from Jason Kidd, in terms of running the point, when you were with New Jersey?
Oh, of course, that's where I learned from ... just his vision, his ability to run the team. Who better to learn that position by him and also, Mark Jackson, who are guys I respected at that position ... Muggsy Bogues. I played with some pretty good point guards and I just think back to my time there ... this is how I feel like they would run the team. I may not be as fast as Jason Kidd but I feel like I can make good decisions under pressure.
How did you like your play, today? You were able to play a lot of minutes and get a good burn.
I think I did a good job of running the team, getting everybody involved ... especially early, especially Ryan, he had a tough day yesterday but it was good for him to bounce back. I think we did a good job of playing a team effort, today.
What are some things in your game that you're trying to work on in the Summer League?
Well, I'm just trying to show scouts that I can shoot it with consistency, and that I can run the team. I can play defense ... as I'm known already, so I'm just trying to show my game and play my game out there.
The Magic approached you to play for its Summer League team. Were there any other teams that approached you?
Well, I had some other options but this was the best fit for me and I figured that if I get out here, play my hardest, hopefully some good things will happen.
How do you like your chances of landing on an NBA roster? It's clear that a few teams like you.
I just keep faith. If anything, just go out, play hard everyday, and hopefully things work out for me and I think it will.
What was it like being able to play for head coach Bill Self at Kansas University, playing there for four years and winning a national title?
It was a great experience. Kansas fans are amazing.
Stay tuned for Ben's recap of the Magic v. Celtics game.