Jason Williams and James Posey Press Conference
Pat Riley: Welcome everybody. In our continual, never-ending effort to win a championship, I thought that yesterday was as good of a day that I ever had in basketball from the standpoint of being able to secure Shaquille ONeal to a long-term contract and have him here for the rest of his career. Im sure when he gets back from his vacation that hell sit down and talk to you about that future. Also, to be able to sign Udonis Haslem, all of that that went on, to complete a transaction that I think will help this team for years to come. I feel very badly that Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler and Qyntel Woods left the family, but its my job to continue to work hard and bring the pieces together thats going to best compliment who I think our two best players are. I dont think Ill have an argument saying theyre Shaquille and Dwyane (Wade). We talked about last year and how we were going to move forward with the aspects of improving, and Stan (Van Gundy) enlightened me as much as anybody on this as what his needs were; we wanted to get more playmakers, we wanted to get more athleticism and we wanted to get more size. Shooting has always been a priority, so that has to be taken into consideration also. Being able to bring in Jason Williams, James Posey, Antoine Walker and Andre Emmett; I feel like it was a day we moved towards the goal of achieving what we want. It was a day that we moved towards putting together a core. Its going to be together for awhile. It was a day meant to bring together the versatility and skill in a lot of different areas that we havent had in a while from a talent standpoint that was going to compliment Shaquille and Dwyane and our other players.
Today, Im proud to present two of those parts, Jason Williams and James Posey. Just a few things about these gentlemen: Jason Williams has been around a long time. I dont think weve had a guard here since Tim Hardaway that has those kinds of skills. I dont have to talk about what Jason can do with the ball. Hes probably as skilled of a point guard in the NBA when it comes to running an offense, running pick-and-rolls, running in the open court and seeing the floor. Hes an athletic player whos very, very explosive and comes to play every night. He loves to play. Hes a gym rat. The thing that I like about all of these players is that they come to play every night. Hes had a career where he has played in over 90 percent of his games. So you can be assured that every night that when the ball goes up, he will be in the lineup and ready to play. Hes a great, great player and were very privileged to have him as our point guard, a player who weve been looking at the last number of years. Not to discredit anyone else who has had that position, but he has pure point guard skills.
When it comes to James Posey, hes a natural small forward, who I believe can go back to the kind of career year that he had during his first year in Memphis. He averaged 14 points per game, shot 48 percent, averaged five rebounds and he averages about 82 percent as a career free-throw shooter and 38 percent from three. Hes simply a guy who will lock down defensively whoever you need to lock down. Hes a slasher, a guy who plays above the rim, and he supplies us with the athleticism I think we need at the small forward position.
Before I introduce you to them and have them take questions, Im open to some general questions and then Ill turn it over to them.
Question: Did you reach a conclusion after looking at last years team that the team wasnt good enough to win a title?
PR: You never know if youre a championship team until you win a championship. Obviously, continuity has a lot to do with it. Two years ago when we started to rebuild the team and we ended up in (Game Six of the 2004 Eastern Conference Semifinals) against the Indiana Pacers, that was a different basketball team and a different direction. The acquisition of Shaquille ONeal changed our world. It changed our direction. Not in a sense of desperation or a real urgency, but theres a timeline and a window where we will be able to put as much talent and skill around him, not only to best utilize his skills, but to be able to help these other players, so we can achieve what we want to achieve while hes still in his prime. Last years team was put together sort of on the fly after we acquired Shaquille. The parts that we brought in were to do with perimeter shooting and complementary skills, and we had a great year an absolutely great honeymoon year where everybody came together. We had the emergence of Dwyane Wade to another level as a basketball player and we had great performances out of those players. Im a realist and I dont think that that team as it was set was a championship team. That doesnt mean I dont think that it couldnt have won a championship, but you have to put of core of talent together. And I hope weve done that now. I hope that Jason will be here for his entire career and James will be here now for his entire career. Theyre very young players in their prime, and I think that they will compliment, along with Antoine Walker, the skill level needed to get us over the top and to compete with the very best teams in the league.
Question: What position will Antoine Walker play? Power forward or small forward?
PR: Hes a player. Thats how I look at Antoine Walker. As a 6-9, 240-pound power forward, small forward, point forward, where ever you put him in the box, hes got a multitude of skills. Not just as a ball handler, but as a passer and a guy who can rebound. He was one of only six guys in the league last year who averaged 19 points and nine rebounds, so hes a very, very versatile player. I think he fits in to what were trying to do here from a talent standpoint.
Question: Is there any concern that ONeal will not be worth his contract value when he turns 38?
PR: No. I have no concerns. Hell be worth $20 million when hes 40. Just sort of roll him out there, and do whatever we have to do. Thats not what this is about. His value is what his value is. To anybody who has been reading or paying attention, Shaquille wants to win. Hes made a lot of money in his career, but he wants to win. I think his gesture, as far as what hes done for us contractually, to be able to make a transaction like this to bring in an Antoine Walker and still be with our mid-level exception and $6 million under the (luxury) tax, it continues to build his testimony to what hes about. Yes, hes worth that when hes 37, 38 or whenever.
Question: By trading for the four players, are you admitting to rolling the dice and trying to win a championship this year?
PR: No. Its about the next four or five years. These players have performed and produced and have had career years, and we hope that they will have their very, very best years now. The platform that the Miami HEAT presents, I know that both of the players are excited about playing with Shaquille and Dwyane, but with the other players that we have, Udonis (Haslem), weve kept the core group together, but its not just about now. Its about putting together a team who is going to be consistent. I hope they come together a little bit quicker, but over the next three, four or five years. Thats how were looking at it. We would like to have a run for four or five years with Shaquille and these players that are going to be contenders every single year. Its not about pushing the panic button. This is about the last step in developing a core. Now we will tweak and bring in what we need from a specialist standpoint to be able to round off the edges.
Question: What was your first reaction when you knew you would be playing with Shaquille ONeal and Dwyane Wade?
Jason Williams: It just made me feel so good knowing that these guys want me to come here. Shaq wanted me to play with him. Its just going to make my job a lot easier. Its unexplainable.
Question: How much have you thought about playing with ONeal over the last couple of years?
JW: I think any player would like to play with a center of his caliber. But until you have played with one, I dont know what its like. I can only imagine, but my imagination is amazing.
Question: Have you relished the thought of playing deep in the playoffs with the HEAT?
JW: The big stage and being on TV late in May all boils down to winning. Individual success and accolades take care of themselves. I want to win and do whatever it takes to help my team.
Question: How do you think your game has evolved?
JW: It has changed sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I was telling someone earlier that the worse thing that happened to me was being drafted by Sacramento because they didnt have a back up point guard to learn from. So they had to play me. That kind of hurt me a little bit. But all that stuffs behind me and Im moving on.
Question: You had an injury plagued season last year. Do you see yourself bouncing back this season and having the year you had during your first year in Memphis?
James Posey: Most definitely. Last year was frustrating. For the first time in my career I had injuries that prevented me from playing my style of basketball. You can check my record. Ive been playing full seasons since Ive been in the league. Thats something that I take pride in, coming to work everyday. Most importantly, I want to play hard and try to win.
Question: What did you learn from Memphis Grizzlies coaches Hubie Brown and Mike Fratello?
JW: I think Hubie was one of the best coaches, if not the best coach that Ive ever played for. He has a lot of knowledge of the game. I think Coach Fratello does things similarly to what Hubie does, but he has his own style. Sometimes coaches and players kind of bump heads a little bit and dont really communicate the right way. I dont think Coach Fratello and I communicated the way we should have. Things didnt quite work out or seemed to work out.
JP: I agree. Coach Brown was great for us. He just gave us the confidence to go out there and play hard, to play our style of play and stick to what we knew how to do. If we played hard and brought it every night, everything was fine. Coach Fratello, coming in, it was frustrating. Just me being injured and knowing I couldnt play how I knew I was capable of playing. It was a learning experience and I look forward to getting back to my old ways.
Question: What was your first reaction when you received the news of being traded to the Miami HEAT?
JP: Wow. They have a great cast with Shaquille ONeal and Dwyane Wade. They did big things last year, so Im going to see where I fit in and help this team win.
Question: In some cases it seems as though you have pulled back your game a little bit over the years. Is that something that you would agree with?
JW: During my rookie season I played with Chris Webber and Vlade Divac, so I got away with a lot of bad passes to those guys because they caught them. Not to take away anything from the players I played with after that, but maybe their hands werent as good as those guys. I have toned it down a little bit, but I believe its because I have had no choice.
Question: James, do you think this gives you the opportunity to step back up where you were and prove yourself?
JP: I think for the most part that every year that I have been in the league, I have improved. It was also the opportunity in Memphis and having Coach Brown that has helped me take it to the next level. It comes with hard work during the off season to get better and prove my game. That is what I take pride in, to come in here, learn my role and play to the best of my ability.
Question: After watching Tim Hardaway play here in Miami, one of the things he was able to do was to balance his game while getting his teammates involved. How do you see yourself balancing your game while getting your teammates involved?
JW: My first thing is to make everybody else happy. Playing with Shaq and Dwyane Wade, youre going to get shots and you have got to shoot the ball. Ill take it one day at a time, learn and try to get better with these guys. I think the sky is the limit for us.
Question: Have you had the chance to speak with Shaq since being traded?
JW: Not since it happened, but I did talk to him a couple of days before.
Question: How did your relationship with Shaq start and how has it evolved?
JW: Before I got drafted, I lived in Orlando with Nick Anderson where we played pick-up ball. Shaq would come and play, so it started off from there and has grown ever since.
Question: Last years team was such a tight and close team. Do you see yourself fitting into that or do you think this is a whole new character?
JW: Its a whole new remix, but this is going to be a better remix. Im the type of guy that can get along with anybody. I want to laugh and joke all the time. I know you cant laugh and joke all the time, but I try too, so Ill try to get everybody like that. I think one of the biggest parts of being successful is that your whole team is on the same page and can get along in the locker room.
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