West Chats Live

Posted: June 24, 2002

Mark West returned to the Phoenix Suns organization as Assistant General Manager last July, just a few short weeks after the 2001 NBA Draft. So this year's collegiate draft is like a rookie season all over again for the retired NBA center, formerly known as "Big Daddy." And what a rookie season it's been!

With two first round picks this year, No. 9 and No. 22, the Suns' staff has been hard at work the past few months attending several pre-draft camps, holding numerous private workouts and watching hundreds of college, international and even high school players on video.

The evaluations haven't stopped yet, though. With the 2002 NBA Draft just two days away, management is as busy as ever, debating and ranking the hundred-plus prospects available this year.

As full as his slate is, however, West squeezed in a timeout to chat with fans today about the whole draft process.

Chris in Salt Lake City: what do you think the Suns should be looking for in this draft? and how quick to you except a return out of the person you pick at 9?

Mark West: Our immediate needs are an inside presence, looking for a power forward who can make an impact immediately. We'll try to take a big guy, but if not, we'll take the best available player. We want to take a player who can contribute right away.

Dan (Phx): Hi Mr. West, Are the Suns tied up this year with the salary cap since Googs and Penny have such big contracts? Are you going to be able to bring any free agents on board this year due to that fact?

Mark West: I think we are right at the salary cap threshold. Any opportunity we have to bring on a free agent who can help us considerably, and that being the key word, we might take them on. It depends on the quality of that free agent.

Dave (Phx): Hi Mr. West, So is Majerle going to come back on board with the Suns organization or is he going to take some time off?

Mark West: I think he's going ot take some time off to be with his family and clear his head. Getting away from basketball as far as a player, you need to get away from it for a little while. After that time, he's certainly welcome to join our organization again.

bilal, newark: hey mark, i want your opinion on an ongoing battle i have with a friend of mine about two jersey players. he says jason williams will be better but i say dajuan wagner will be better in the NBA. I realize jason may be gone off the draft board when the suns pick and wagner may be there but don't let that cloud your judgement.

Mark West: I think you're talking about two very different players. Williams is more of a pure point guard, Wagner is more of a pure scorer, who can score any way. It depends what you are looking for. If you want the distributer who can also take the shot, or if you want the guy who controls the tempo and can put the ball in the hoop in the clutch. It depends on your need.

peter, st.paul: Is this the best time of year for you as an assitant gm or do you like the in season duties?

Mark West: I think for me, this is my first full year going through the draft process, this is an exciting time. It gives you a chance to start all over again. I get to help put the team togehter with draft picks and free agents and we all start at zero again. And that's the exciting thing, starting anew. With us, it's a chance to come in with a better season and start at zero. So I say this time of the year.

nikki, new york: Did the kings recent run versus the lakers give the suns and the rest of the west a better feeling on the chances of dethroning the lakers?

Mark West: With the Kings, you have a unique blend of players, great talent of every position. Vlade played well against Shaq, both offensievely and defensively. I think we all understand if you don't have a Shaq-type center, you should put together a team like the Kings that is strong at every position with a versatile center.

G-MAN (PHX): So give us a taste, Mark. Have all the insiders and rumors pegged what we're going to do with the draft or do the Suns have something up their sleeve?

Mark West: Right now, we have nothing up our sleeve. You look at the forwards, that's Hilario, Stoudamire, Jeffries, Borchardt. It's going to be a matter of who's left on the table when we pick. There's nothing magical about it. They're good players, who's going to be available at nine. If none of them are available, who's the next best player, period.

freedom, : Mark, I know it's been a few years since you laced them up in the nba but do you particiapte in the player workouts? if not, what is the best part of conducting them?

Mark West: I don't participate anymore. I was working with some of our big guys, doing one-on-one workouts. My knees are brittle, these guys are young and strong, but I do enjoy getting on the court and I love the game. I don't mind giving back the knowledge back to the younger guys. They come in with a lot of flexibitility, a lot of talent, they just need some experience. I was a small center, these guys have a lot more size.

Noel (Mesa): What does Alton Ford need to work on to take the next step?

Mark West: He's gifted with unbelieveable physcial attributes. We need a left handed and right handed post. He has tremendous speed and jumping ability, he needs to use that to his full degree, giving it every ounce of ability that he has and puts it to the limit. A lot of young guys have to learn to use their talent to their fullest degree. Once he gets that, Alton will be just fine.

Jenny (Phoenix): Who is the best player available in the draft? I mean, who is going to be the best player in the NBA next year from this draft?

Mark West: It's hard to say. Odds on pick would be Jay Williams. But I wouldn't bet against Caron Butler.

Little Daddy (Peoria): My boys call me Little Daddy after you ? I foul a lot, clean the glass, play hard, but I'm about a foot shorter. Anyway, what were your impressions of Amare Stodamire? Looks like a big, raw kid to me.

Mark West: He has a lot of raw ability. EVerybody is hoping that once they get him into camp, he'll fulfill his potential. Very athletic, quick and very enthusiastic. He has the potential to become a very good player. But he's missing out on the college experience and what that brings to the table... a little more polishing.

Smokin' Joe: Assuming the Suns select a power forward with the ninth pick, what position will you address next at 22?

Mark West: I think at 22, more than likely, we'll go after a scorer. A guy that can either score in the open court, either shoot jump shots and can drive and get fouled. A guy who can set up in the corners if Stephon drives who can step up when teams collapse on our penetrating guards or our big men posting up.

Charles: Is Yao Ming for real? How do you think he'll do in the NBA?

Mark West: I think it's the million dollar question. The guy has some very good natural ability. And he has the one thing you can't teach...tremdendous height. HE can pass, shoot and dribble. The question is can he play on the inside and do damage. The jury is out on that one. But I think he'll do just fine. There will be some language barriers and such, but he'll be fine. The question is will he be good or will he be a superstar. The expectations are high. Sometimes being good isn't enough being picked at number one.

Brian Phoenix: Any thoughts on trading Penny?

Mark West: No, no thoughts on trading Penny. He's obviously not the same player as he was in Orlando, but he's still a very skilled player in this league. He has a very high basketball IQ, he knows how to make players better. Even if he comes off the bench, he's still one of the best in the league. So it'd be hard to find someone who can match what Penny brings to us. He can come off the bench and put up starter numbers. The things that made him great, having a lot of pride, will affect who he is going forward if he's not the star he has been in the past. He's a professional. He's a bright kid, he understands what it takes to help a team win, even if it means taking a big seat to starting.

Matt(PA): KJ was my favorite player, and I was wondering if you still talk to Kevin Johnson and keep in touch with him? I think he should join the SUNS organization.

Mark West: I talk to Kevin every once in awhile. He started his own business in Sacramento, he's doing an empowerment program in his hometown, like Magic Johnson. He's doing the same thing in Oak Park where he grew up in Sacramento.

Mark West: Thank you to everyone for asking the questions. Believe in the Suns, we'll bring it back and we'll have a strong team. Thanks to the fans who support our organization.

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