He sat down with me Tuesday afternoon for a quick update. Here’s the transcript of our conversation: (And there’s a tidbit at the end on Trent Plaisted.)
KEITH LANGLOIS: Your first six years in the league you played until at least late May every year, sometimes into June. I know no one around here wants to see the season end in late April, but has that extra time off been a benefit to you?
TAYSHAUN PRINCE: Not really, because it went by so fast. It doesn’t really seem like it, I should say, because the time goes by so fast. Obviously, it’s been beneficial, but more so it just went by so fast that it doesn’t seem like we’ve been off that long.
KL: Because of the extra time, have you spent your summer any differently from a preparation standpoint? Have you stayed away from the gym more?
TP: I’ve stayed away from the gym more because I had more time and because of the long seasons we’ve had in seasons past. I stayed away longer than I did in previous years.
KL: Everybody knew you’d have some significant roster turnover this year because of the cap space created with the trade and having more draft picks than usual. What have been your impressions of the makeover so far?
TP: We’re a younger team. We have a new coach. The toughest thing is you lose the guys you played with for so long. The upside is you have a younger group of guys, try to get things turned back in the right direction. The group of guys we’ve brought in here, each one of them brings something different to the table. I’ll get a better feel for them once we have training camp, being out there with those guys. Charlie and Ben, I know those guys basketball wise, but not as a person, not off the court. Once training camp comes, I’ll get more familiar with those guys. The youth and what they’re able to do will really be helpful for us.
KL: I talked to Chris Wilcox last week and know you guys have a little bit of a history. You played in the NCAA tournament your senior year, when they won the national title, and you went through rookie orientation together. Chris was a little bit of a below-the-radar signing. High-lottery pick, never really had the type of career he expected, but he’s been mired in some pretty bad situations. Talk about what you think he can offer.
TP: I think there were a couple of good seasons he had when he was with Seattle, playing well. Obviously, he’s a great athlete and he can do a lot of things. He knocked us out in my senior year when we were in the NCAA tournament. Out of any of the newcomers, that’s who I know more on a personal level than any of the others because of the fact we hung out during the rookie transition program. Believe it or not, even though we play different positions, we were in a lot of the same workouts. So I’ve had an opportunity to meet him – a nice, quiet, down-to-earth guy. So, definitely looking forward to playing with him.
KL: With the makeup of the team of the team right now, you have a lot of firepower on the perimeter. I know you’ve talked to John Kuester a little bit. How do you see all the pieces fitting together on the perimeter?
TP: I’ll get a better feel for him when I’m playing with those guys and he can understand who can play better with whom. As a coach, the more firepower you have, they say the more problems you have. But I’m pretty sure he’ll love that problem to kind of figure out where to go and where to take it from. With Ben, his ability to score the ball at will, almost, will be helpful to us. And Charlie, being able to play inside-out, will cause some problems, being able to put him in pick-and-rolls. We’ll definitely have a lot of firepower on the perimeter. The one thing that I think will be kind of a problem for us is losing Dice and Sheed together. Those two were our veteran inside guys that pretty much put their stamp on what they did here. Just from an experience standpoint, what they did here – these guys we’ve got are younger and more energetic now – but experience-wise, those guys did a huge amount for us in the past seasons they’ve been here.
KL: I know you have some history with John Kuester as an assistant coach here when you won it in 2004. What’s your sense of what type of coach he’s going to be?
TP: He was here during the Larry Brown era and the way Larry did things, the assistant coaches around him did things in a similar fashion. I would kind of expect him to be similar in that kind of situation. But he’s also been under different guys. With Mike Brown last year, he gave him the opportunity to carry more of the load, especially offensively. I think he’ll incorporate a lot of different things he’s done with all the different coaches he’s been with, he’ll bring that to this team.
KL: Do you have any sense yet if your role will change under him?
TP: I don’t think my role will change. I’m pretty sure he’ll put me in different situations on the floor, but as far as my role, I think it will continue to be the same. There might be some different dimensions to it with me and Rip being the only experienced guys, but those other guys have some experience, too. We’re kind of familiar with what he likes to do, but I’m pretty sure he’ll mix things up.
KL: On draft night, the Pistons wound up with three combination-type forwards. Are you familiar with any of those guys?
TP: I watched Austin in college. I watched DaJuan not as much. I used to like Gonzaga so I caught Austin a little more than DaJuan, but I’m kind of familiar with them both a little bit.
KL: Austin, as I’m sure you aware, has been compared somewhat to you. Do you see similarities in your games?
TP: I see similarities. After watching Austin the last couple of years, he does some great things. He can handle the ball very well. He’s a great rebounder. He can shoot the ball with ease, can shoot it off the dribble real well which is something that’s very helpful. I’ll get a better feel because I’ll be working with him sometime this summer.
KL: He said in Las Vegas that he really wanted to pick your brain to see how a guy who came out of college with a similar frame to him can hold up in the NBA. What’s the key for him in adding functional strength without necessarily adding a bunch of bulk?
TP: He can get a feel from me, he can get a feel from (strength coach) Arnie (Kander), who is obviously the best. If you look at it from the standpoint of some of the things I did, I was a person who liked to eat a lot but couldn’t put on a lot of weight. So what I would do is continue to build a strong base. People always look at your upper body and say this person isn’t strong enough, but if he has a strong enough base, you can withstand the pounding and the things that go on throughout an NBA season. What would be good for him – and I’m pretty sure Arnie will get with him as soon as possible – is just to continue to work on his base and when you have a good strong base, everything else will fall into place.