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George Karl Media Day Press Conference Transcript

Nuggets coach George Karl meets with the Denver media in advance of training camp.
Aaron J. Lopez/Nuggets.com

Nuggets Coach George Karl

Opening statement
We’re ready to go. The team has had an incredible summer. Masai and Josh have done a fantastic job of taking everything from last year and making it better. They've given us almost everything we want. The talent, we’re stacked all over the place and camp is going to be fantastically competitive. Everybody has had a pretty positive summer, to the point of it being special. Now we need to come together and see what we can be.

As a staff, we’re excited because so many players have so much room to get better. Because of that, after evaluating last season, we see we can be better on both ends of the court. And our talent pool has gotten better because of the trade.

Some young guys have to mature and grow up and come forward and make big steps in the world of NBA basketball. It will be fun being a part of it.

Do you see defense being a key for this team?
I don’t think we’re going to be statistically high in a lot of traditional defensive categories. But I think differential is the key for us – field goal differential, points differential, turnover differential. How we control the other team. Can we have moments of defensive momentum, rather than offensive momentum? Can we have moments when we intimidate with our presence on the defensive end on the court? And in the fourth quarter, I still believe you win most games with stops, fundamental nature, extra possessions, offensive rebounds, making free throws. I just think defensively you win so many close games with intimidation. And with Iguodala, I think we have a stopper at 1-2-3-or-4, a guy we could put on Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Tony Parker, Deron Williams, whoever. We can move him around. And we have some other good defenders – Wilson Chandler, who didn’t play last year. We should be better defensively.

Will you ask Ty Lawson to take more of a leadership role?
I think so much of leadership is your daily attitude, daily energy and daily approach. I’m not a big believer that leadership comes from your mouth. I think it comes from your actions. Ty is usually very good at that when we get 5-on-5 oriented. Some of the other stuff, I think Ty understands what he has to do this year. I think he’s ready. After Game 1 of the Laker series, he was one of the top 2-3 guys on the court in most of the games. That’s the type of consistency we need him to bring every game. He’s got to understand it’s an 82-game schedule and who you beat isn’t as important as how many you win. Ty sometimes gets caught up in the spotlight game, but not every game.

Will it be tough to judge this team early in the season because 22 of the first 32 games are on the road?
It’s not something I’m exactly happy about, but I think my team can handle it. We’ve got to have a special training camp to get ready for it. Come Jan. 1, if we’re 4-5 games above .500, we’ll be in a good place.

You now have a bona fide defensive star in Iguodala. What are your thoughts on him?
I love him, I can’t deny I’ve been his fan for a long time. I think he fits how we want to play. He’s a rock. He’s not a flamboyant player as much as being a consistently solid player on both ends. I think his offense, which has been written up that he’s not this or that, I think he’ll be freer here, more successful here. The times I’ve been around him, he’s just a no-nonsense type of player. A great athlete. He gives us another piece.

Someone was talking to me the other day about All-Star. I said, ‘I think we have too many guys who are going to divide the votes.’ We have 3-4-5 guys who could contend for an All-Star spot if they have good years, but they’re not going to have a dominant personality.

Who are the most important players on this team?
I’m always thinking point guards are extremely powerful and important in the regular season, and big men become a little more important in the postseason. Point guards have a dominant factor. For me, it’s just how much growth we go through. How much individually and from a team standpoint, learning how to win games.

What have you seen from the team during the offseason?
This is the best September we’ve had since I’ve been here. More guys in the gym, more guys committed to how we’re going to play. I think it’s known around the league, if you want a good workout, you come up here.

What do you expect from JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried after they spent time with Hakeem Olajuwon?
I like their workouts. I like some of the stuff they do. I don’t think there’s any question that JaVale and Kenneth are on top of the list for summer improvement. That camp was positive for them. My philosophy with big men is to run the court, rebound the ball. Then finish around the basket and get easy shots around the basket. Have the footwork. The last thing on the list is post moves. I think you’re going to see us throw the ball into the post more this year. But it’s not our top priority. That’s to play as fast as we can and in the open court, where the numbers and matchups are on our side.

The NBA plans to crack down on flopping. Do you believe that?
I do this time. I was with the commissioner last weekend and I think it’s pretty serious. There’s going to be some type of fine set up to address the flopping, which I think it’s positive. It’s at both ends, where you flop offensively and you flop defensively. It’s something that is annoying to coaches and probably fans.

Are you going to be better at shooting the 3?
Yeah, that’s probably my biggest concern. I think 40 percent of our three-pointers are down in Orlando right now. I think we’ve got the guys who can do it. It’s going to be a high priority of the offense. We love the rim, the second shot we want is the free throw and the third shot we want is the three-ball. We’re going to work hard on it. We need some guys to jump up their percentages. I think Gallo and Corey Brewer are the guys in my mind. Jordan Hamilton is going to have an opportunity to play because of his ability to make shots. Wilson chandler, Iguodala ahd a great year last year. We have to continue to keep him in that mode. Statistically, if we shoot the three and shoot free throws better, I think we’ll be No. 1 in scoring. We don’t need to change anything. Most players, as their careers go on, they get better. JaVale McGee, Kenneth and Timo need to be better free throw shooters.

Have you ever had this much depth on a team?
Some of the teams in Seattle might have had as much depth as this. One year we had Gary Payton, Nate McMillan and Greg Anthony at point guard. Greg would play golf every day before a game because he knew the maximum he’d play would be 10 minutes. I don’t think I’ve had as much young depth. The veteran depth is easier than young depth. Young guys are always searching for their minutes, their shots. They’re a little nervous with how the coaches rotate their game. It’s powerful because it makes them better quicker. The competition makes them improve faster. Having the hammer of someone behind you keeps your focus and discipline at a high level, too. Some coaches that says the only hammer we have left is minutes. I don’t want to use that angrily or viciously or vengefully. Can we play 10 or 10 ½ on a consistent basis? This team is probably capable of doing it. But the attitude has got to stay strong. We’ll see. The depth will allow you to overcome injuries. Everybody’s going to get injured. The next five days, there will be someone injured, I promise you. Having the team ready to compete is so exciting. There’s a lot of minutes out there that are to be determined.

With the Lakers and Oklahoma City, is everyone else playing for third in the West?
Summer talk. My favorite thing. I’m disappointed you guys like us so much in the summer. Usually you don’t like us in the summer. There’s a lot of summer talk in the media and there’s a lot of summer talk upstairs. Fortunately the media will start analyzing what’s going on on the court. Upstairs, we have to get the summer out of our game – the shot selection, the crazy shots, the crazy stuff that isn’t in our philosophy. I love Oklahoma City. I was rooting for them to win the championship last year. I was disappointed with how the west folded up. I can’t deny that I just despise the Lakers. There’s a bigger word for it. I’ve been beaten by them too many times. I didn’t expect them to be bad, but when they got Steve Nash, I can’t deny I was really upset.

What do you think of your son Coby going to Portland for training camp?
They’re going to give him a little look. I’m happy for him. He had knee surgery a few weeks ago. He’s probably not 100 percent but I think he’s healthy enough to go to camp and rock and roll with the Trail Blazers. We play them in the preseason. Hopefully I’ll get to see him.

How do you feel about four weeks of training camp as opposed to two weeks last season?
When I was younger as a coach, I got excited about training camp and I would do all the practice plans – seven or eight or even the first 10 practice plans. Now I have the first two practice plans because I change up where I want to go. I want to go today. Let’s go practice. With everybody basically being in tune with the system … we’re going to be scrimmaging from the first day on. We’re going to go at it. We’re going to run up and down and play basketball.

Can you give us an update on your health?
I’m trying to get stronger. I’m feeling good. My voice is always a concern because of the radiation. It’s off and on. My actual body, I passed all the tests. I’m ready to go. I’m feeling pretty energized. I’ve got a new blender. It’s a presser instead of a juicer. It saves the enzymes and nutrients. I try to eat really well from 8 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon. I have my beers every once in a while and my chicken wings. The heat takes out the nutrients and the enyzmes.

What would you consider a successful season?
Right now today, I want to win a division – and that’s a tough one with Oklahoma City being right ahead of us. The thing I love about my team is they’re not afraid of the big boys. The thing I’m scared about my team is they don’t take the little boys as serious as they should. A division and then we’ve got to find a way to win in the playoffs.

Will McGee and Mozgov battle for the starting center spot?
It’s a toss-up. I don’t want to say Faried has the four position (locked up). If Wilson Chandler comes in and is the best player in camp, I might have to start Wilson Chandler. I have no idea who the starting lineup is. And it really doesn’t matter because it’s going to be a nine-, 10-man rotation. Everybody’s going to have to play. The most intriguing thing is how we finish. That’s what I don’t know right now – how we’re going to finish. Who’s going to start? That’s easy. I can mess around with that. I think we’ll keep everybody in a positive place, but how we finish is to be determined. That’s where people will get angry more. If you’re going to play 30 minutes, it’s better coming off the bench because you get 20 minutes against the second-line guys. No one wants to understand that.