Kings Q&A: Collison Part 2

Darren shares insight about his initial conversations with the Kings, playing for Coach Malone and more in the second installment of his one-on-one with
by Steven Wilson
Writer, Digital

What did you learn during your time playing for Coach Doc Rivers?

“It had a huge impact on me. I got a chance to work with a guy who’s won championships in his career. As a coach, he was very hard on me last year – but the biggest thing I can take away from Doc is that he was always poised throughout the biggest moments. If you think about all the stuff he went through in the Playoffs last year, he was poised. He was a very competitive coach and that rubs off on everyone around him. There are a lot of things I can take away from that experience, but overall, I think it was very good for my career – just to be around a guy who has won championships.”

Are you looking forward to facing the Clippers this season?

“In this situation, I think everybody has to be circled on our calendar. I think we’re in a position right now where one game isn’t too big – every game is big for us and that’s how I’m looking at it.”

What aspect about working under Coach Michael Malone excites you most?

“We all know Coach Malone is one of the up-and-coming coaches in this league. I think everybody knows he’s a very strong defensive coach. Even though he’s young, he’s been around the game a long time. I feel like he presents his players with a lot of freedom and makes the game a lot easier to go out there and do a good job. When I was first hearing Sacramento’s pitch, one of the things I told them was, ‘Michael Malone was one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to come here.’ I’ve known him since New Orleans and we’ve developed a good relationship since then. He’s just one of those coaches who will make you run through a wall for him, so I’m excited to play for Coach this year.”

What kind of vision did the Kings front office share with you during your initial conversations?

“If you look at what Sacramento has been through – almost losing their team and having been a Playoff team, and an exciting Playoff team in the past – I think they’re trying to bring (the winning) feeling back. [General Manager] Pete [D’Alessandro] is trying to build a team that will win now and make improvement from last year. The fans definitely deserve it.”

D’Alessandro has mentioned how much he appreciates an up-tempo style of play – how does it fit your game?

“It fits right in with my style of play. Everybody knows I like to get up and down [the court] and that I’m fast and quick with the ball. I think it’s easier to play that way. When you do have to slow it up, I can do that too, but I think this team will like to play fast. Rudy [Gay] and Ben [McLemore], with both of them being so athletic, they’ll like to play like that along with some of the other young guys.”

Have you had a chance to talk with Kings Chairman and Majority Owner Vivek Ranadivé?

“Yeah, he’s a real cool, gentle, soft-spoken guy. He just told me he’s excited to have me onboard and he can’t wait for the season to start. He knows [outsiders] have had their doubts about us, but he’s a firm believer in us. He put this team together for a reason, so I’m just as excited about it as him.”

Have you had a chance to speak with some of your teammates, too?

“I spoke with [DeMarcus] Cousins a couple of times. Rudy – I tried to reach out to him. I spoke to Ray [McCallum] a little bit – not as much as I want to – and I had a chance to sit down and talk with Nik Stauskas. We all went out to dinner together. Another guy I’m looking forward to working out with is Ben, because I know he comes out to L.A. – him and Ray both. I’ve also spoken with [Derrick Williams] and Carl Landry, so almost the whole team.”

Are you looking forward to the team’s preseason games in China?

“I’m not a flight man, but I think it’s going to be a good experience for us to bond together. I think you can use trips to bond early in the season and we just have to take advantage of it. Regardless of how long the flight is going to be, we just have to take advantage of it. I think it’s going to be fun once we get there.”