Press Conference: Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin and Flip Saunders
Press Conference | August 12, 2013
"Welcome everyone today. We are officially introducing Kevin Martin as our, I guess he's our two guard. Of course we signed him a long time ago, at least it seems that way, I guess about a month ago. Since that time we've done a lot of things with our team but I really believe that he was the first domino that started our offseason which I consider really a successful offseason and where you look where we were a year ago, and we needed to strengthen our team, leadership, veteran leadership, someone who has been in a big game situations, which Kevin has definitely done. We wanted to increase our ability to put pressure on defensive guards, scoring wise because we really haven't had someone that we can pencil in 17-18 points at the two guard spot and haven't had someone to put pressure on the team's defense and of course our ability to also make 3-point shots, and Kevin is one of the top-3 point shooters in the game. And as everyone knows and it's well-documented, that we were the worst 3-point shooting team in the league last year and I really believe that right now you can't have success in our league both offensively with inside play and perimeter play if you can't knock down threes and that also helps your defense to be able to knock down threes and help the defense be a little bit more conscious and not run out as much. So we are extremely excited and I talked about his leadership, he brings great leadership, our players whether it's Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, have great respect for Kevin. It's nice to have a veteran in the locker-room that can send a message with Coach Adelman to the players and we're bringing a guy, outside of Coach Adelman and the three coaches, knows the offensive better than anyone. He's very familiar with coach Adelman's system and as a former coach, what I always loved about watching Kevin play is that it's very unique to have a player that can play and be successful not having to have the ball in his ands a lot and Kevin has the ability to play off other players and make other players better, make quick decision and one thing that does go very much unnoticed is that he does get the free throw line seven plus times a game and at our level to have per player that can do that, especially in late game situations, gives you the opportunity to really to dictate how the tempo is going to be played. I personally want to welcome him to the Timberwolves. I know fans, players, management, ownership, is extremely excited."
"Thank you, guys. First I'd just like to thank Oklahoma City and their fans and Sam Presti for giving the opportunity to play on such an incredible team in front of incredible fans every night. They are a big reason why I'm up here today to continue my career now with the Minnesota Timberwolves and I'd like to thank Flip and the owner Glen Taylor and Rick Adelman for bringing me into such a great environment and you know, trying to do a lot of good things here and this was a very easy decision for me to come up here to Minnesota and I realize that I made the right decision when I saw Rick Adelman when I actually came up her to officially sign last month and he gave me a hug as we all know Rick, he's not the guy to do anything like that, so that's when it kind of hit the stamp on my decision. I'm just kind of excited to come into your community. You know, I'm overwhelmed with the responses I've gotten and just walking around the city this week in the mall and places like that and people thanking me for coming and I've never had anybody in any city thank me for coming, but as an unrestricted free agent I guess that's what happens. I'm just excited to get this thing rolling into the next month in a half and see where we go as a team."
Reaching out to teammates
"I haven't worked out with anybody besides Corey Brewer and when I was up here I worked out with Chase. I had contact with point guard Ricky (Rubio), you know, I'm a smart a two-guard, I'm contacting my point guard first. We're getting on the same page and he's the first pass-first point guard I've ever played with in my career so I'm excited for that. Just to see him grow as a player. Be in the backcourt with him and help him with some things and try to make his life easier, so I have had some contract with players."
What's the ceiling for this team?
"You never know a ceiling until you actually get on the gym and I think Flip has done an incredible job of coming in here and not only putting new blood in this team but actually putting together a pretty good team. I don't think our goals just to make the playoffs. That would be a mistake to sit up here and say that's our ceiling or things like that. This team is built to do more than that and that's one thing we have to do more of getting into the gym. The foundation has been laid, a pretty strong foundation. Now it's our job to work hard every day and establish a family atmosphere in that locker-room."
You were the No. 1 domino here, any pressure on that?
"Not really, especially when he (Flip) says 17-18 points a game, I have no pressure doing that. I feel I can do that in my sleep. It's just an incredible statement coming from a basketball mind like Flip and you know just here to excel the process of this basketball team getting not only into the playoffs, I think it's been a nine or 10 years absence, I think it's actually doing some damage and this franchise and this city deserves all of that and that's what we need to do and think about from day one."
Perception of Minnesota before coming?
"We always, I'm not going to say feared coming in here, we were always worried about coming in here because their always a dangerous team especially with Adelman coaching and the offense that he runs and the players that they had, I think you guys are well-aware of the health issues you have. And that's the only thing we are really worried about. It's just a great team and I feel very blessed being up here, being able to join a team of this caliber."
Enjoy playing in Target Center?
"Oh yeah, I love these rims. I always loved the interaction of you know the fans and how they are in the game. I remember a guy always banging this thing on the side and so, we just have to get the vibe back in here and this team is very capable of that."
Prepared to be a starter again
"Very prepared, from day one, I'm a greedy player, not coming from wanting 20 shots a game, but just attention to detail, being a sponge in what my coaches ask of me and you know being a number one guy offensively. (For) so many years I studied game tape after every game, talked to coaches after practice and I'm sure I'm going to come to Flip a couple of times. He coached a player similar to me in Rip Hamilton. I feel like I can jump a little bit higher than Rip. Just being able to have those times, I'm hungry for it."
At age 30, how will you be different playing for Rick this time around
"Last year was just a product of a different role and last time I played for Rick I think averaged 24. I told him I probably wouldn't be able to do that this time and I would aim for 22 and winning is the most important thing. I'm excited to get back with Rick after playing behind Kevin and Russell. It was an easy decision to come here and be the starting shooting guard and just get back to playing my game."
Shift in mentality for preparing as a starter
"You try to approach it all the same, we are professionals, we have to be professionals and that's an incredible career that you can have in the NBA. Last year was an incredible year until Russell went down, I took pride. After the trade you hear all the talk like 'they are going to get worse' and things like that. But actually we got better offensively and defensively and I was a major part of that, so I come to work every day and try to get the most out of every day."
Flip on the Rip comparisons
"Yeah, it's his ability to move without the ball. Rip never needed the ball in his hands and when I took over here one of the things we talked about, I talked about improving on the court basketball wise, but we also talked about changing the culture of this team and Kevin is one of those main things, you can hear him talk and the culture of a winning culture. And the culture being positive, the culture of communication with the coach, with the management, culture of we're all one family together and that we are all here for the same goal, so when you have your best players that share the culture that one that you believe that's important, coach Adelman thinks is important, that's a major step because that sets the tone for everyone. Many times there are a lot of teams that have talent to win games. Few teams have the character and attitude and that culture to win championships or be at the championship caliber. That is one of the things we wanted in influx in this organization and that's why Kevin was a prime target for us because of everything he does, not just what he does on the court, but what he does off the court, what he does in the locker-room and the community. How he believes he should play. As coaches we have that saying, 'play the right way.' I know players hate to hear that, but he plays the right way and if you want to succeed, you have to play the right way and that's playing as a team and more we than I. That's one of the things I personally am excited about."
Flip on Kevin's time in OKC
"First of all, what impressed me at the time when I talked about it on ESPN, I still thought they would be able to win games because Kevin, how he was, how he can score and the things he can do, but to be put in that situation and play the way Kevin played and the way he handled himself, I thought was really unbelievable, extremely difficult situation. It's almost like every time he stepped on the floor, people wanted Harden. He's different. He's not Harden. He's Kevin Martin. He plays different. I believe that our system is conducive for him to play how Kevin Martin can really play and knowing that as he talked about a past first point guard and an offense that strives on ball movement and player movement and sharing the basketball. So like I said, I was just really impressed with how he handled himself and very professional. They really didn't' miss a beat. I think any basketball mind knows that if Russell Westbrook wouldn't have got hurt that team was a pretty good chance of being in the Finals battling against LeBron and the fellas down there."
Flip on Kevin's defense
"I think what you have to look at, I know they say on defense, Kevin might not be the best one-one-one defensive player, but it's not one-on-one, it's team defense. Kevin is a student of the game and I believe that he is a very good team defender. Coach Adelman is known as an offensive coach and people don't give him any credit for defense but if you look at statistics last year, we were better defensively than we were offensively, because he believes in a defensive system. Kevin is going to have success and I think the one thing that you have to understand when people talk about how he's not a great defender. There's not very many twos that are because you're going against some of the best offensive players in the world. Nobody is going to stop Kobe; no one's going to stop Dwyane Wade. You don't do that as individuals, you do that as a team. We have no doubt Kevin is going to fit right in to what we want to do defensively. One thing that goes unnoticed is that he gets his hand on a lot of balls. A lot of deflections. He's got great size. Our main thing defensively is that as a team we wanted to get bigger at the two guard. As you saw walking in, most of our two guards are my size. Kevin is a lot bigger than me, That's going to be beneficial. I think he's a very underrated individually and team defender."
Kevin on his defense
"I think through my whole career not too many guys get labeled two-way players and me being such a great offensive player, sometimes that's overlooked. I was on a 60-win team last year that finished in the top-4 or five defense and I was a part of that, so, I'm not saying I'm Thabo Sefolosha by any means, but I was a part of that. So I felt pretty good and the one thing we need to strive for we have the opportunity to be the No. 1 offense in the league, but we want to make noise and get where we want to be we have to be one of the best five or six defenses in the league."
Go back to Florida with Corey Brewer now and workout?
"I'll come back around mid-September, I was telling Flip today. Today's the first official day of our six week program with your trainer David Thorpe. It's time to hit the ground and hit it hard. And we're both excited to be in the gym together. He's excited for his new opportunity and it should be a great time for not only us, but for this team and this city, we're all ready."
How long have you and Brewer worked out together?
"Six or seven years. Whenever he first came into the league.
What do you focus on while training?
"To get better. I don't work on one particular thing, in the NBA you get challenges that change on a nightly basis so we just try to just improve our game in every aspect of the game."
Flip on Kevin's shape
"The one thing that goes unnoticed about Kevin is that he's in phenomenal shape and in our league, especially if you're going to be a guard, if you're in great shape, you have a chance to have success especially with him and the way he plays off the ball."
"I just told him, we talked about, the biggest thing is that when get into any situation, when there's rules and guidelines, you have to abide by those. That shows discipline, and as I explained to him, part of being successful at our level is being disciplined both off and on the court. When rules are put in place you have to follow those. As I said to him, part of a young player and development becoming better and being able to survive this league is how you develop skill level and how you develop with the NBA and all that comes with it. A lot of times that is mentally. I know a lot has been talk about my comment about the NBADL. It wasn't a threat. That was just saying, I'm a CBA guy, I believe in the minor league system and I believe that players that are down there, because they don't have the skill, they don't have the confidence, or they don't' have the mental frame. If you don't have any of those three then that's where you are to develop to try to get that to be successful in this league."
"He didn't' have much to say was very apologetic, felt extremely disappointed at himself and we talked a lot about his situation because of his past so I think you have to take what is a negative and turn it into a positive."
"Kevin (Martin) has already tried to reach out to him. Right away he called for his number to reach out to him and talk to him and reach out to him about what this was about. I talked about change of the culture of this team, the culture of this team is more we than I and what happens when you change your culture and become a we team that means there are sacrifices... sometimes personal sacrifices for the good of the team."
"It was one of those situations, I mean, the frustrating part is that following policies and guidelines when rules are put in place. That's what's frustrating, when you go somewhere and do something, you hope that you would do what you have to do so now he has to do it again."
"We've had some conversations. I think we've had positive conversations... I believe that we're moving forward and think it's been more of an education process on both sides knowing where each is at." "I believe he wants to be here, I believe we are the best situation for him. He's had some success here. Success is not guaranteed in this league, there has been a lot of players, a lot of players who have left here too, who thought maybe greener pastures, and their careers have gone the other way, I do believe that Pek knows that what we have in place, the people we brought in that this is place. I'm confident that we will have a meeting of the minds."
"Most restricted free agents over the years, those guys sign, most of the times at the last minute, so we'll hope we can move in a direction."
"You don't' want to be walking around without a contract. That's like having a Powerball in your pocket and you put your jeans in the washer and you don't have it anymore."
"We've invited Robbie Hummell, Othyus Jeffers, of course our second round pick Lorenzo Brown. Those three guys right now and at this point they have indicated they will be coming to camp."