Posted Dec 11 2008 9:04AM
NBA.com's Dave McMenamin tracked down Jason Richardson on the phone as he sat in a hotel room in New Orleans on Wednesday, hours after being informed of the five-player deal that is sending him and Jared Dudley from the Charlottle Bobcats to the Phoenix Suns for Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary.
NBA.com: This is your first chance to comment on the trade. When did you find out about the deal and what was your initial reaction?
Jason Richardson: I found out the deal today. Rod [Higgins], the GM from the Bobcats gave me a call and woke me up from my pregame nap. He was telling me about the deal and at first it was shocking because I hadn't been hearing any trade rumors about Phoenix. I only heard one trade rumor and it was with the Clippers. Despite the shock, I thought it was a good move for both teams.
NBA.com: Now you go from a Bobcats team that has never made the playoffs and didn't really look like it was headed to the playoffs this year to a Suns team that boasts two former league MVPs in Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Nash, plus Amar'e Stoudemire. Entering into the veteran stage of your career, what can you say about the opportunity to team with players like that?
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Richardson: It's amazing. Every player loves playing with players like that. Been to the Conference Finals, won The Finals, been MVPs, been All-Stars ... I'm just excited about having teammates like that at this point in my career. I feel like now I have a great chance teaming with players who are or are going to be Hall of Famers. I'm just excited to get out there with those guys, playing as hard as I can and going out there and doing what I'm capable of doing taking this team deep in the playoffs.
NBA.com: How satisfying is this deal, especially because you helped build what was going on in Golden State and you had to leave that winning culture to a rebuilding program? To know that you're entering a team that has a lot of recent success, how much does that energize you?
Richardson: That's exactly right. I think my whole career I've been on rebuilding teams. It's been tough because I've only been to the playoffs once and even with that team, we didn't have a winning record. So if you give me the choice to play with guys who have been there before, who have won it, that's a rush. I've never had that in my career, guys of that caliber.
NBA.com: Terry Porter called you after the trade and said that if you can handle Tom Izzo, you can handle me. What did he mean by that?
|David Aldridge analyzes the trade and how it will impact both teams involved.
Richardson: I think that just means coach Porter demands a lot of his players to leave everything on the floor and that is kind of similar to Izzo. It was tough, it was a tough situation [in college]. I was just to doing certain things and I had to kind of scale back a little bit to fit his system, but I think one thing he did that helped me a lot was challenge me a lot to go out there and defend and put everything that I'm capable of doing out there that people weren't really paying much attention to.
NBA.com: That's a good point. You say defend, but you're known to NBA fans as a dunk champion and a 20-point per game scorer. Do you almost relish the opportunity to show off that part of your game? They are trading Raja Bell for you, one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league, so obviously there will be a need for defense.
Richardson: I love challenges set by coaches for me like that. I'm going to do the best job I can do, helping guys out on the defensive end and doing the things that he wants me to do. It's just working hard and doing whatever he wants me to do to help the team win. They already got it started there so I'm just going to be there to get the team prepared for the playoffs.
NBA.com: You mentioned the talent. Talk specifically about the chance to play with Shaquille O'Neal and Amar'e Stoudemire in your front court.
Richardson: Oh man. You got two BIG guys back there. There's not too many people that will drive and try to dunk on Shaq. As a perimeter player, that gives you a lot of confidence when you have a big guy back there who is going to hammer somebody real bad if they get past you. At the same time, Shaq is real vocal, so as a perimeter defender you always know where your help is coming from.
NBA.com: At 13-9, there's still a lot of season to go for the Suns, but now that you're a part of that team, are there expectations you're setting for yourself right away? Did the ceiling just get that much higher?
Richardson: It did. You have a group that can win a lot of games right off the bat. You have guys that want to work. Amar'e, he wants to dominate games and, to me, he is, the way he's been playing. Steve Nash is one of the top point guards in the league and he loves having Shaq who is probably the best center ever to play the game. I'm excited by what can happen.
NBA.com: You played with Matt Barnes in Golden State, right?
Richardson: Me and Matt had a great relationship in Golden State. Matter of fact, he just texted me to make sure everything was cool. He said, "Welcome to the team," and asked me if I need anything and stuff like that. I have a good relationship with Matt.
NBA.com: So what do you do tonight?
Richardson: I'm actually in New Orleans, we did have a game tonight before the trade happened. So I'll go to Charlotte from New Orleans and be in Phoenix on Friday.
NBA.com: I guess you'll be tuning in to Lakers-Suns to see your new teammates then.
Richardson: Yeah, you know I'll be watching that one.
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