Wolves GM Jim Stack Checks In
With less than a week until the NBA Draft on June 26, Wolves GM Jim Stack set aside time following pre-draft workouts in Los Angeles (Friday) and Chicago (Saturday) to discuss his thoughts following evaluating players at both locations.
Minnesota brass, which spent a bulk of the weekend looking closely at USC guard O.J. Mayo, Italian prospect Danilo Gallinari and Stanford center Brook Lopez, will conclude their pre-draft workouts on Monday when the Wolves bring Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless and Indiana guard Eric Gordon to Target Center.
During two separate teleconferences, Stack talked at length about a handful of potential lottery picks Minnesota saw in person this weekend and about the Wolves' plans for the final few days leading up to Thursday's draft.
Q: On which teams attended USC guard O.J. Mayo's workout in Chicago on Saturday:
Stack: Memphis was there, Seattle was there, New York was there, obviously we were there. Chicago had I think one person there. Nobody from Miami because I think they had their individual workout with O.J about a week ago. So basically everyone 1-6 except for Miami had somebody in attendance.
Q: On if the Wolves had a chance to sit down with Mayo:
Stack: Yeah, we did. We sat down with O.J. extensively. We probably spoke to him for about an hour. We had a lot of questions, obviously with the amount of information that was out there. We wanted to pin him down on some things and just hear what he had to say on some of the stuff that was kind of swirling around about him. We got (into) pretty good detail, in-depth about all those issues.
Q: On if he liked what he heard from Mayo:
Stack: Obviously he probably can't get into the details - because of the time constraints - that you would like. But I'm really impressed with the fact that he is very much a standup person. He knows that he's got to be accountable for whatever happens in his life. He wasn't looking to make excuses on anything. And regarding the allegations about him getting money and being involved with these other people, he basically told us that he didn't do anything wrong. I tended to buy into what he was saying ... He didn't have a car, but did he get driven around quite a bit by this (Rodney) Gillary guy? Absolutely. But after some things came out, he said later on that he realized there may be some layers behind the scenes that were going on that he wasn't aware of and he definitely distanced himself from those situations after he found out more information. At the end of the day, I think it really taught him some lessons about being careful with his inner circle and understanding where people are coming from and (that) they may have different agendas than what he may have. He really impressed me with how thorough he was. He really got into what happened and what he learned from it and all those types of things.
Q: On if Mayo's character questions were answered after interviewing him:
Stack: Yeah, I think so. He's a kid that has been on his own since he's been a lot younger than probably any of us. He basically was on his own since 7th-8th grade. He lived with his grandfather a little bit, but basically he has been looking after himself for quite awhile. There is a maturity level there that I think some of these other kids don't necessarily have just because they haven't had to be in those types of situations before.
Q: On if Wolves fans can pencil Mayo in as the No. 3 pick:
Stack: I wish it was that easy. We have some kids coming in next week obviously with (Arizona guard) Jerryd Bayless and (Indiana guard) Eric Gordon. So we want to make sure we are real diligent and thorough with the whole process. But O.J. is certainly a guy that we are considering and probably among four or five guys we're (looking at). We have to sit down next week and go through some of the psychological testing that we have done with the different kids. And we'll be meeting obviously around the clock just going over all the information that we've accumulated so we'll be ready to do what we've got to do hopefully later in the week.
Q: On if the Wolves were able to give Mayo a psychological test:
Stack: We didn't give him any official type thing, but I thought we did a pretty good job at giving him an unofficial psychological test in our interview today. We put some situations in front of him and sort of asked him to pick how he would handle certain situations. Everybody sort of had their say in terms of what question marks they may have had and we put some hypothetical things in front of him. I think we got pretty good in-depth answers ... He certainly came through as very, very sincere and really genuine with all of his answers.
Q: On what Mayo did during his workout:
Stack: He worked out for an hour, I'd say a little bit over an hour - a lot of shooting, off the dribble, some post move stuff, screen-and-roll stuff, ball handling. But mainly a lot of shooting - off the dribble, different spots on the floor, driving to the basket, kind of showing his explosiveness. We asked (him) to do some different things going off one leg, going off two legs, so you can see him in different situations ... He was very impressive; he shot the ball very well.
Q: On if he thinks Mayo will be predominantly a shooting guard in the NBA:
Stack: I wouldn't say that just because I think he has enough ball handling ability to where he can maybe swing back and forth. He measured a hair over 6-4, so he's not really, as two guards go, a really long two guard. But he's explosive. What makes him a little bit unique is that he can make plays for other people and he can score the ball and shoot the ball. I do think he probably (would) fit in well from our standpoint just because (Wolves guard) Randy Foye is kind of a combo(guard), (Wolves forward) Rashad McCants can play make a little bit ... But O.J. can certainly do both things pretty well. I think that's his advantage and that's the advantage of how we want to play because we want to have multidimensional guys who can play multiple positions. And I think he can do that as well.
Q: On if he thins two combo guards such as Mayo and Foye can work well together:
Stack: I think when you have one combo (guard), you'd like to have two combos just because then they can play off each other and the positions are a little bit interchangeable. I think O.J. can defend, that's one of his strengths, and I believe Randy Foye (defense is) going to become more and more one of his strengths. They can guard different size guys and they both are, defensively, very good at keeping guys in front of them. O.J. certainly showed me this year that he can be a really high-level on-the-ball defender ... He's been exposed to a lot of different levels of defense. His on-the-ball defense is very good. He'll have to adjust and learn the defensive rules at the NBA level ... But I think he'll pick that stuff up very quickly.
Q: On if Mayo fits Minnesota's need for talent, perimeter defense and shooting:
Stack: He certainly does, there is no question. Like we've said all along, we're not necessarily going to draft this pick based on 'we need this position.' We're going to get the best player that we think can help us and O.J. is certainly, as I said, one of four or five guys that fills a need for us ... One of the things that we are going to have to examine further is his ability to be explosive, getting through and by guys. His free throw attempts per game were not one of his areas of strength. He wasn't able to get in (to the paint) and draw a ton of fouls and get to the foul line. So that is something that we're going to have to (examine) and see if he can make things happen with a low shot clock. Can he get in the lane, can he break guys down off the dribble and get shots for other people with a low shot clock? That's an area where I think his game is still developing and its not where its ultimately going to need to be going forward.
Q: On if Mayo would be willing to play in Minnesota:
Stack: We asked him about that as well. Kevin McHale brought it up to him that it was out there that he only wanted to play in certain markets and O.J. said 'no.' He totally would be all-in if he was (drafted by the Wolves) ... He said he wanted to go to a situation where he could help the team and be in a winning situation. Obviously the teams that are drafting in the lottery now are not winning teams, but I think we explained to him kind of our plan and how we were looking to move forward and how he would fit into our plan. I think at the end of it he was really impressed that we're a team that's going to be on the rise hopefully very quickly, and he could be a big part of that.
Q: On if he thinks Mayo has any attitude problems:
Stack: Not at all. The background work that we did - as soon as he was able to after the season he came and has been working in Chicago with (trainer) Tim Grover. I think he has been there five and a half weeks now. Even on days off Tim says he is in there shooting. I think he is a real gym rat. He loves to play. He understands that he has to earn everything he gets ... That was one of the scenarios we got into with him, kind of subtle, to see what he thought about stuff - if he thought he was just going to walk in and take over and be the man right away. He understands he has to work for things; he has to win his teammates over. And he basically said that's the approach he took going into USC as well. I really thought he was genuine. I thought he was sincere and you really feel and see the intensity on his face when you sit there and talk to him. He looks you in the eye. If he's not the real (deal) in terms of how he presents himself, I'd be really shocked because I've been doing this a long time and I think you can see when guys aren't giving you the straight story and he was really looking us in the eye and speaking from the heart, telling us what he really believes. That was very impressive.
Q: On if the Wolves plan to work out any other players after bringing in Bayless and Gordon to Target Center on Monday:
Stack: I don't think so. We are feeling pretty good with our coverage. We'll get these few guys in next week and then we may need to do a few interviews with (Kansas State forward Michael) Beasley and a couple of other guys; just to be prepared if that scenario presents itself. I don't think we'll be chasing a lot of guys after Monday. That will probably wrap it up.
Q: On seeing Italian prospect Danilo Gallinari in person on Friday:
Stack: He worked out by himself but (Assistant General Manager) Fred (Hoiberg) and I were out there defending him the best we could for old guys. But the main thing with him was that we wanted to see him shoot. We put him in some pick-and-roll situations and we put him in the post ... He's a really long kid and we didn't see him (that) much during the year with his team, so we did a pretty extensive post workout with him ... (We) gave him some things to work on, tried to coach him through (different) situations to see how quick of a learner he was and if he could absorb and understand with the language barrier. His English is actually pretty good.
Q: On what stood out about seeing Gallinari in person:
Stack: He's tall. I did not realize, I mean, he's 6-10. He's a really tall kid ... I'm not sure if he's done growing, but (Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin) McHale stood back to back with him, and Kevin maybe had him by just a hair ... He's kind of unique from the standpoint that he has guard skills at that height; makes him a little bit unique offensively. Pretty much for him it's going to be how well he can adapt to the speed of the game at the NBA level and then who he can guard defensively. He will probably be a guy the coach will have to match up, depending on who you are playing, he might be playing a smaller guy some nights or a bigger guy some other nights. That will be the challenge for him. I think, ultimately, how well he can adjust defensively and how well overall he can (adjust) to the speed of the NBA game
Q: On who else Wolves brass worked with:
Stack: (Memphis point guard) Derrick Rose (worked out). We got there towards the tail end of his (workout). He was doing weights and doing some shooting; we had a chance to spend a little bit of time with him, talked to him a little bit, shot with him a little bit too ... (Stanford center) Brook Lopez obviously came back as well. We did a pretty extensive workout with him. Kevin got out there with him and (I) was out there with him as well, just seeing some different things with him - what kind of footwork he has - just kind of a follow-up to what we did with him when he came up to Minneapolis.
Q: On if UCLA guard Russell Westbrook worked out:
Stack: Westbrook couldn't make it. I think he was working out somewhere else today so we did not see him.
Q: On if the Wolves worked out Rose because they believe they still have a chance to draft him:
Stack: You never know what can happen, so I was glad (to work him out). It was kind of a bonus ... He just happened to be working out. They told us ahead of time that he was shooting and (lifting) weights, so we tried to get over there as early as we could after we got off the plane. We did get a good 30 minutes of watching him shoot and do some different things, his routine that he's been doing. And then talked to him for a little bit afterwards. So that part worked out real well ... I wouldn't say we worked him out, but we shot him around the three-point line kind of casually. I wouldn't call it a formal workout. He was kind of done with his workout. We were working with Brook at the other end, we got done with Brook and he was still down at the other end doing some stuff so we went to the other end and asked him a few things and did a few shooting things and that was pretty much it.
Q: On how long Gallinari has been on the Wolves' radar:
Stack: We were aware of him for a while. We've been over to scout him very thoroughly the last two years and he had a really good year in (Europe) this year for his team. They finished really strong during the second half of the year. We've seen him extensively I would say over the last probably three years.
Q: On whether or not Wolves brass asked Gallinari if he would be willing to play in Minnesota:
Stack: We asked those questions... He said (his comments) were taken out of context. He said, because of the large Italian population in New York and New Jersey, that it would be a place that we would really love to play in. (The media) took it like he only wants to play in these two locations, which he never said. He cleared that up right away ... We talked about that at length and we feel really comfortable that he would be excited to come to Minnesota and play. We told him what a great city it is, and I believe it is ... He's a terrific kid, so I was really pleased with how he presented himself.