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Draft 2004: Randy Pfund Press Conference

Jun 21 2004 4:22PM
MIAMI, June 18 -

Opening Statement:
“Just overall it’s a great feeling to be picking down at #19 this year after the last couple years being at 10 and 5. It’s a better feeling to have had some success during the season and see the team progress, and now still see if we can add to the team through the draft and free agency this summer…As far as a general comment about the draft, I think it’s probably going to be known at the end of the day as the draft of high school players. I think there will be seven or eight high school players drafted in the top 20. That means I’ve been to places like Seagoville High School (Dallas) and Prentiss, Mississippi and Peoria, Illinois. We’ve been around to a lot of small stops in the basketball world this year, but there’s some very talented young kids that are going to be in this draft, and I think probably one of the big stories is going to be that those guys are going to go early in the draft…I think there’s good balance to the draft, I think that’s a good sign. I think we have some good high school players, we have several players that were good college players – even though some are early entrant candidates – but at least they were in for a year or two. And then there are some international players too that will be in the mix. I really feel like in the top 15 to 20, you’re going to see a combination of those three groups in those areas…As far as our pick, we’ve always gone with the idea that we want to try to find the best talent we can. We have a little bit more of a base to work from this year in terms of players and knowing that we’ve got a group of guys that were able to get in the playoffs this year, but we won’t get too focused on the need. We’ll try to be very good at evaluating who the best players are in this draft, and that’s enough of a job in itself. If it fits perfectly with one of our needs, then that’s great from that standpoint and we can do two things at once. But the flexibility we have this summer with the 19th pick and two second round picks at 47 and 53, and then some ability to go out with free agency with the mid-level exception and the 1.6 exception, we’re optimistic. It puts us in a good position. We have some flexibility…We are realistic where we are as an organization, but we are very optimistic about this group of young guys we’ve put together along with the veterans. We’ll go out to see if we can add to it this summer.”

Q: “Of the top international prospects, what percentage have you been able to physically get in for individual workouts? Will there be some unknowns that you’ll still have to consider because of logistics that you couldn’t actually see interviewed?”

A: Yes, there’s always some unknowns in this now with international players and high school players. There’s just a limit to how much you’re going to be able to do, how much cooperation you’re going to get when it comes down to it. I feel pretty good about the fact we spent more time this year than we ever have in the past internationally. We worked extremely hard to get out and see all the high school kids that were there this summer…At 19, we haven’t been getting a lot of love from the agents because everybody wants their guys picked in the lottery. So, guys who we think could be there for us, we haven’t been able to see them all at workouts. But, with our draft history the past few years, that hasn’t been as crucial. I think we talked at one point how we didn’t work out Caron Butler two years ago. We did have Wade in of course, and that was important to get to know him, but it wasn’t really his workout that swung the thing in his favor last year…We try to do the best we can and get cooperation. Sometimes this year we had to go watch guys in their environment instead of being able to get them here. Pat Riley and Chet Kammerer and I have been coast to coast with those kind of things where we go out and watch a player workout in his home area, but they were not able to come in here…It is a tough process. We worked out Jameer Nelson yesterday, and I think it was his 13th or 14th workout. These guys go all over the county and their agents try to put together some semblance of a schedule that makes sense, but it puts a lot of pressure on these guys. I do have compassion for the trying to figure out where the right places are to work out, and at 19, we’re just in a position where this year, we just haven’t been able to get as many guys. But, we have seen them all. We’ve been out and worked together around the country, and I think we’ve got a pretty good feel for the guys that are there.”

Q: “How important is it for #19 to be a contributor?”

A: “We love the combination with both Caron and Dwyane Wade. Those guys were young talents as far as being proven in our league, obviously, but had maturity to them as far as how they played the game. At 19, we probably don’t have quite that many choices, and that will probably be our decision when it comes right down to it. Do we take the more mature guy, probably settled in as a player and he is what he is, or do we go with somebody that there may be more of an upside to as a younger or international player who hasn’t had experience? I think that’s probably where we’ll be on draft night…I think the thing about this which is different is in this case is that last year we had to pick one at five. This year the process will be a lot more about who falls down to our range. So, we’ll probably be looking at two or three guys at that point who fall down to us at 19…I should address the fact that we always work to see if we can move up in the draft. I don’t think we really have the perfect combination of depth you’d like to have to give up something to move up in the draft because of what we’ve gone through in the past couple years and having to change our salary structure. With what we went through with injuries and so forth, I’m not sure we have the depth to give up two pieces or two chips to move up a few notches. But, we still explore that. I can tell you I think there’s teams in the lottery that are looking very seriously in trading, either trading out or trading down. We’re involved in those kinds of discussions. Also, from the other standpoint, we’re involved in the kinds of discussions with teams that have multiple picks below us that might have an interest in moving up. If we’re comfortable with three or four players that were there when our pick came around and we felt like we could move down a few notches and still get one of those players, that would also be a possibility.”

Q: “How much does it help - you said it a lot of high school players would be taken early - maybe some mature players will end up dropping to you at that point?”

A: “Yes, I think that’s the question. As I said, I think there’s a balance. I don’t mean to say I think all the high school guys will go first, but I think that will be the story at the end of the day is how many of those guys and how high they went. It’s very possible from that standpoint that somebody similar to a Dwyane or Caron who has had a couple years of college experience or more might be there for us if it goes that way.”

Q: “Pat (Riley) said our priority is to get bigger. Is this draft an outlet for you to get bigger and is that still the ultimate priority in all moves included in the draft? Or is that for a later date?”

A: “There’s no doubt we’ve looked. Last year we looked long and hard at Chris Kaman, and so we’ve tried to address the fact that we’d like to get bigger and get more size…From another standpoint, what Lamar Odom was able to do and what Udonis Haslem was able to do at the front line, not the center position, but we got two good performances over the course of the year from those two guys who helped us significantly on our front line. I think it is something you’d like to address, but as we always say, we have to look at the whole landscape of what’s out there. Certainly you could look at free agency and say it might be easier to address the problem of getting another big through free agency. I think one of the hardest things in our league to do is for young guys to learn how to play inside, what’s allowed and what’s not allowed in terms of post defense and being able to play the game against the veteran bigs. Sometimes that may be better addressed with veteran players who have been in the league and gone through that stage where everything they do is a foul. It is harder on young players, who are post players and centers to be able to make that adjustment in to the league.”

Q: “Can you talk about the timing with free agency starting about seven days later after the draft?”

A: “I can tell you this: there are a lot of timing issues we would change if we could. We’d love to be able to address the ability to do sign and trades or sign free agents at the same time we’re dealing with the draft. It would make it an impossible job to do that all at once, but that’s something you have to look at. Even though you’re coordinated with the two, I really feel like you can’t get to cute in your draft analysis. You have to pretty much put every ounce of energy you have into who you think the best player is – medical records, background, off-court issues, try to get as much information as you can in all the different areas that are out there. We focus pretty hard on that and know that after we’ve made that decision that may affect what we do in free agency. But I don’t think we’ve put an eye to that in making our decision. It’s kind of in the back of our minds, but not something we focus on.”

Q: “When you look at the top 10 high school players this year, how many would you say are ready to be rotation players, and, in general, do you have to plan two or three years development in high school guys?”

A: “I think Livingston and Howard will be the two high school kids that will go first. I think those guys have some maturing to do, especially Livingston in terms of his body, but they both have a lot of talent and it just depends where they end up, what other personnel is there…I think you see in a situation like Darko Milicic this year. I mean no one really knows how good Darko is. He came to a team that had a lot of talent and they added talent at the trade deadline with Rasheed Wallace. That even moved him down a notch, so it all depends on the opportunity the player gets. But, those two guys are extremely talented and then the next tier of high school players, some of which could be in our range if they fall to us, I think are guys who you’ve seen a skill they have that’s at an NBA level. How long it takes them to be able to make all the adjustments physically and strength-wise, you don’t really know until you get them in your camp and start working with them and see where there at…I think there’s a maturing process that has to take place. Jermaine O’Neal is on the other end of the spectrum from LeBron. You saw LeBron, a guy who was physically ready and mentally. From every aspect, it’s still amazing when you see LeBron interviewed, the maturity he has. That doesn’t mean there can’t be other guys like that that are out there. But the other end of the spectrum is, would you feel like it was a mistake if it took three or four years for a guy to develop, but he ended up being a quality performer for you? That is the toughest question, but I do feel like if there’s one there that we feel is talented, then we would evaluate him and make that pick if we felt that was the guy who fit best for us.”

Q: “As far as the center position, do teams have to go the route of finding international players now and cross their fingers and hope it works out because there are so few guys available at the crucial position?”

A: “I don’t like to think in those groups. I think we’ve come to the place where we kind of think in terms of just basketball players and not get too focused on position. But right away, you look at Rafael Araujo, who played at BYU but he’s Brazilian. Then you go right down to Peter John Ramos, Puerto Rican, Pavel Podkolzine from Russia. Right there you’re looking at three big guys. Andris Biedrins is probably not a center, but Latvian power forward/center combination. Right there you’re looking and saying there’s four international guys that are center prospects. David Harrison, an American player who played at Colorado. It does seem like we continue to go international to find guys who are bigger. A couple guys dropped out of the draft that also would have been considered in that group.”

Q: “You’ve been real fortunate with your last two picks in Caron and Dwyane, real character guys. How much more difficult is it to find a track record when it comes to character from some of these young guys in high school?”

A: “I think it is more difficult with both international players and the younger high school players. I feel like I have a great staff, not only the group of people you see more from the basketball side, but people I have at the office who do a lot of work tracking down information, and of course, my scouting staff – Chet Kammerer, Adam Simon and Randy Embry are the three guys that are out there. I think they do a great job of knocking down the doors and finding out the information. I think we’ve got good contacts, the fact we’ve been together a number of years and been able to build up contacts throughout college basketball and high school AAU and so forth…But, it is more of a challenge. We like those college players. We’ve had a chance to really see them. You can go right to the people at the college who’ve worked with them for a few years at universities and get that information. Again, I think it’s a 90 percent basketball decision, and at the end of the day, that’s what you’re really looking at. If we have time to evaluate them on the court and get a chance to watch tape of them, then we feel like we can make a decision based on the things we need to.”

Q: “You mentioned the next tier of high school players…Can you talk about some of those names?

A: “I’d say the next tier is probably Josh Smith, I think he’ll probably be drafted pretty high. Robert Swift from Bakersfield, California is a center prospect that will be probably right near or right after the lottery. There’s a couple guys down further than that – J.R. Smith, Dorell Wright, some other guys. There will be six or seven, I don’t know which ones I did not include, but I think it’s very likely six or seven high school guys will be drafted somewhere in the top 20 or 25 picks.”

Q: “Do you think Jefferson can slide as low as you?”

A: “I don’t think he’s in the first tier, but from what we’ve heard, he’s had good workouts. We’re hoping to get one more look at him to see if we can get a little bit better handle on him. But I think he’s probably in the group above us, just from what we’ve been able to find out where he’s worked out.”

Q: “When you look at the international players, they are not the traditional physical, banger-type guys…When you look at Araujo from BYU, does he step out of that mold as more of a physical guy and maybe more of what Pat and Stan (Van Gundy) were talking about you needing?”

A: “He’s a physical guy. Ramos is a physical guy. Pavel, even though he’s had some injury situations. David Harrison is a guy who’s got a lot of fire in his belly. He’s had off the court issues, he’s a very passionate young man. I think there are several options from that standpoint of guys who maybe have the physical attributes, both in terms of the size and their ability to mix it up like we like to see…The thing that is probably different about Araujo is that he shoots the ball, he’s got a little bit of a one-handed release, but he shoots the ball pretty well. He’s 6’11” so he’s got good size, but I guess when you’ve had guys in the gym that are 7’3” and 7’5”, 6’11” doesn’t seem quite as big. But no, he’s a good size kid and a very physical player…Biedrins also, I don’t think he’ll get down to us, but he’s got size and quickness. He’s very quick around the basket, got good spin moves in the post, even though he’s probably more of a 4 than a 5. I think he’s a player that could come in and make an immediate impact because he’s got good strength.”

Q: “Point guard at 19? Will there be something there?

A: “I think the first point guards that will go early are Livingston, Gordon and Harris. I think that’s the top three. I think the next two point guards are probably Telfair and Jameer Nelson. I’d say it’s 50/50 – one of those guys could certainly be there for us. I think we’ll evaluate that just like we do every other position. I don’t think we’d be opposed to taking a point guard if that’s the player that we thought was there, but I don’t think we’re going into the draft thinking we need a point guard. We’ll try to evaluate those guys like we do the other positions and you can’t discount the fact that if there’s another wing there that we wouldn’t do that…I think most of you guys were a little surprised positionally with the decision to go with Dwyane, but I think we felt like he was the best player. So, we’ll follow that same theory this year, and there are some good wing players that could be there for us also.”

Q: “What impression did Jameer Nelson’s workout leave on you guys? What have you learned about him?”

A: “Quality kid, good workout. It’s a very good story of a guy who used the system last year to evaluate where he would be drafted, decided that it was too much of a risk, went back, had a great year with a successful team. Although, he reminded me every time we brought it up that his team wasn’t as successful as he wanted to be. Now he’s going to be a guy picked in the first round. Where he slots in, that may have to do with some teams having multiple point guards or established point guards, but he certainly is going to be an option in the top 20 I think…He shoots the ball, runs the team, very heady player, good knowledge of the game. I always like to ask them a little bit about what they know in the NBA. You can get a pretty good feel for a guy pretty quick how well he knows the league, how he would cover different players, what his reactions are from what he saw during the year. So, he’s the type of player who would fit in very well in our system because he’s a mature guy and a very tough competitor. I’m not going to hide the fact that he’s a good player and someone you’d probably have to consider.”

? Q: “If Telfair was available, would you be a little hesitant to take him coming out of high school and do you think it would be ready to come in and play in the NBA?”

A: “I think there’s some very good high school players in this draft and we would not hesitate to draft one if one was available there. And I would put Telfair in the group of people that we would have to consider.”

Q: “Talk about Emeka Okafor”…

A: “I think the comparisons of Zo are out there. The comparisons of Ben Wallace are out there. There’s always some issues if you want to look deep at every player, whether they’ve had a little bit of an injury situation or something off the court, but I can’t see much getting in Emeka’s way. He’ll either be the first or second player drafted. The only thing that might change that is if there was a trade and somebody decided to move up there, but I have a lot of positive things to say about Okafor. If we had the opportunity to add him to our team, that would not be something we would hesitate on at all.”

Q: “You mentioned David Harrison has had some issues. Would you be more inclined than others to take him because you have a good locker room, a hardworking team. Would it be less of a factor for you guys than other teams in the league?”

A: “I think it’s a 90 percent basketball issue, and I don’t think there’s really anything in his portfolio that would keep us from him. In fact, I think that there are some things that show he’s a passionate guy. He played at a school that was competing against some of the best basketball schools in the country – Oklahoma State, Kansas – and a lot of times he was out there fighting those battles against some very good teams. So it’s not that surprising that if a kid is competitive, he’s going to maybe get in a few of those things. So, no, I don’t think that would be a negative for us.”