"I think, especially Otis, he understands ... he's an ex-player so he understands my situation. Playing here maybe 10 to 15 minutes a game and getting playing time over there [in Dallas] maybe 30 minutes a game or 40 minutes a game is definitely a different thing so he understands from a player's standpoint, I have a good opportunity to just improve my game and show what I can to. I hope the fans understand everything, too. If I'm going to Dallas, I'll never forget about the Orlando fans. Here I grew up as a basketball player and I improved my game and I got to experience a lot of things, going to the Finals, and playing with the best big man in the world [Dwight Howard], so I hope they understand. "
-- 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 3 of our coverage.
I was able to speak with ESPN.com's & Scout Inc's David Thorpe, Marcin Gortat, former Orlando Magic head coach and current Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, and Marreese Speights of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Click after the jump for the full transcript.
Could you comment on Russell Robinson and talk about his game?
I think that he's one of those guys that, minor league kind of player, that's trying to move to the next level and he's going to have an easier time actually getting in the NBA, ironically, than getting into Europe because he's not a scorer. In Europe, typically they'll bring in Americans to score. Well, they do everything ... score included. He, to me, plays kind of like a Jacque Vaughn-type, another Kansas guy. I really liked what I saw, though. I just thought his energy, what he was doing, very crisp floor general, scored when he needed to, and I thought he defended and moved the ball great, so that's his game I guess. I've talked to some scouts, who have seen him play during the year in the D-League, and they said he keeps getting better. As a third-string point guard for someone next year, it's possible the way he played. The odds are always long when you're not drafted and you're coming in from the minor leagues.
How would you rate his jumper, right now?
I thought it looked good. He's not looking for it, that's the thing. In these Summer Leagues, it's even harder for a guy like him because he's not playing off Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and [Hedo] Turkoglu ... he's got Ryan Anderson, and that's about it. Jeremy [Richardson], a little bit, too, so he's got to try to score more and kind of turn some heads. The reality is that his game fits as a back-up point guard in the league because he does defend, and because he does play with energy, and if he can play without turning the ball over and get a team in their offense, he's got a chance.
Let's say he signs with the Orlando Magic, how would he fit with the team?
He plays like an old player, like an Anthony Johnson, in that he is the floor general. He's not trying to make things happen for himself, he's trying to make plays for others. The difference is, veterans like Anthony Johnson, can go get buckets and I don't know if Russell can. Anthony, coming off the bench, can score and he's done it many, many times. Russell is ten years from being able to do that, probably, and it's just not in his personality so that's what makes it hard is you have the veterans who play just like Russell, not try to force the issue, but those guys can also get buckets and I don't know if Russell can.
How would you rate Ryan Anderson's game right now and who would you compare him to?
I called him Rashard Lewis-lite. I don't mean that by the color of his skin. He's just not as good as Rashard Lewis and probably won't ever be as good as Rashard Lewis but to me, what makes Lewis unique in the league is his ability to shoot the ball with his size and can make plays when you chase him off the [three-point] line. I think a lot of guys can really shoot the three and have size, but when you chase them off the line, they really become far less effective.
I think Lewis is still a very effective player ... he's not a guy that blows by you and dunks on you all the time or anything, but I thought in the playoffs, especially, you saw a guy that can score on one or two dribbles without dunking the ball. He can wrap you in and score in the post, which is something he really did well in Game 6 against Philadelphia [76ers] in the second half, he got himself into the paint and scored so I think Anderson is similar. I think ... he really loves to drive, he definitely doesn't just want to shoot threes, but that's what he's best at. But he also rebounds and makes plays in the paint on both ends and fights.
I liked him coming out of college and I think that sometimes teams want to bring in a backup that plays much differently than their starter. To me, he's going to be able to backup the 4 and kind of give you what Rashard gives you, just not as good.
I was at the press conference when Vince Carter was introduced to the Magic and Stan Van Gundy stated the reason he liked Ryan Anderson is because he brings the same skill-set, as you said, like Rashard Lewis. He felt like last year, when he subbed out Lewis, he didn't have that guy that could really spread the floor at the 4 so he felt like having Anderson on the team would be something that both parties benefit from.
Yeah, in the playoffs, when they brought in [Tony] Battie or even [Marcin] Gortat sometimes when they went really big, especially in the Finals, they just didn't guard those guys. You got to guard Ryan because he can really shoot. To play him with Dwight is a good fit and I think that he tries to rebound ... I'm not sure he'll be a very good rebounder in the NBA level, but when you play next to Dwight, it's not so important because he gets almost every rebound.
I think that Ryan is fortunate, because I think he's going to a really good spot for him. I also think his coach [Stan Van Gundy] is as good as there is in the league in figuring out how to take advantage of his talents. Ryan is going to have a very good year next year because his coach is going to figure out how to help him.
What is Anderson's ceiling, as a player?
I think he can be a starter in the league. He won't be in Orlando unless Rashard gets hurt. I think that his ceiling is a starting, face-up 4. He has to be with a monster 5, whether it's Yao Ming, who's injured right now, or Amare [Stoudemire] potentially ... guys like that, you play him where he was with Brook Lopez. He's a nice floor spreader, who like I said ... if he just could spread the floor and that was it, I wouldn't project him as a starter but the fact he can actually make some plays when he's not shooting threes, I think it gives him a chance to be a starter. It just won't be for a while because they got a pretty good 4 already [Rashard Lewis] and they're paying him pretty well, too.
Are you excited to go back to Poland?
I'm excited but I'm not excited going back to Poland in that kind of situation where I don't know where I'm going to play, yet. It's kind of hard because every day it's going to be the same question, 'where are you going to play?' ... and I don't know the answer, so it's kind of hard to go in that kind of situation but I'm happy I'm going back to Poland.
If you were to leave the Magic, it seems that you and Otis Smith are leaving on good terms. What do you think?
I think, especially Otis, he understands ... he's an ex-player so he understands my situation. Playing here maybe 10 to 15 minutes a game and getting playing time over there [in Dallas] maybe 30 minutes a game or 40 minutes a game is definitely a different thing so he understands from a player's standpoint, I have a good opportunity to just improve my game and show what I can to. I hope the fans understand will everything, too. If I'm going to Dallas, I'll never forget about the Orlando fans. Here I grew up as a basketball player and I improved my game and I got to experience a lot of things, going to the Finals, and playing with the best big man in the world [Dwight Howard], so I hope they understand.
Are you going to get accustomed, if you were to go to the Dallas Mavericks, having Mark Cuban at all the games? Everyone knows that he's very involved as an owner and very into it with his players.
Yeah, he is into all the stuff and I mean, that will be good. If you got the main guy trying to help you out, then obviously he's big into talking with the referees ... he's going to help the team and he's going to help you, so that's good. That's awesome.
Is that very important to you, to be with an ownership that's committed to winning?
Oh, of course. If the main guy is trying to win, then you just got to do it. The guys ... he's just trying to win, he's trying to build the team to win, and you just got to help him because he's giving you this huge opportunity so you just got to use it.
If Rasheed Wallace weren't to start, how many minutes do you think he'll see each night during the regular season?
Oh, I don't know. I really don't, yet. I just want to see how his body looks. No more than 25 minutes. I hope they all play 20 minutes a night all year, that'd be terrific, but that's not going to happen so I don't know.
Are you going to make a concerted effort to pace your team, considering the NBA season is grueling and long?
It is a long season, but we kind of know our guys so I don't know Rasheed, yet, as far as that way so that'll be something I find out as the year goes on but I think we've done a pretty good job of pacing them, as long as we don't have injuries, then all that stuff goes out the window.
How's Kevin [Garnett] looking?
He looks great. I saw him last week and the first thing I told him is that it's good to see that he can walk normal again and talk more. He's definitely louder and happier, so Kevin is back.
Do you think Rasheed's and Kevin's personalities will mesh well, given that they're both intense competitors?
Yeah, I think that anybody's personality will be able to fit if they're there for the right reasons and I think everyone on our team ,,, they're there for the right reasons. I never thought, personally, personalities are that difficult to mesh when everybody's is trying to win one thing and I think they're very difficult to mesh when everybody have their own agenda.
If Grant Hill were to sign with the Celtics, do you think it'll be nice to be able to interact with him again since both your times with the Magic?
Well, it'd be nice to interact with any free agent so anybody out there, we'll interact ... there's no doubt, Obviously Grant and I have a relationship ... hell, I didn't see him play a whole bunch. I was with him a long time but I just know the character and I know who he is, and I think he'd be a good fit of any team trying to win a title. Any team that is trying to win a title right now, Grant Hill is going to help you.
I know it's a bit different for you since you're sharing a team with the New Jersey Nets. How's that been going for you?
It's been going pretty good to play with a different team. It's the first time I ever did it but it's a pretty good experience.
How do you like the play of your teammate, Jrue Holiday, so far?
He's young, but he's getting better and better every game with confidence. He'll be good by the time the season comes.
What certain things in your game are you trying to work on in the Summer League?
Just trying to be a little tougher down low, making more post moves and just play harder down low.
What do you think your new head coach, Eddie Jordan, will be able to bring to the table?
He should be able to bring a lot to the table as a coach. There's a lot but he's been a pretty good coach in the NBA, so he should be good.
Stay tuned for Ben's recap of the Magic v. 76ers/Nets game.