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Transcript: Stan Van Gundy: 2020 NBA Draft Interview

On his involvement in the draft process and transition a rookie into his system:“I was not involved in the process, I’m just being honest. I wasn’t here very long, I hadn’t watched college games during the year, Griff and Trajan kept me informed on guys. I knew very early on taking the job that they loved Kira, so that I knew, but it wasn’t like I was involved in the process and giving them input or giving them my recommendations on who they should draft or anything else. I’m trying to get ready, get a staff hired, get a system in and all of that, and meet with our players. I knew they loved (Kira) and I’m excited to coach him. I do think it’s a challenging environment for a rookie coming in because Kira’s not going to get Summer League, he’s not going to be here doing individual work in the summer and getting acclimated to the coaching staff. It’s a challenging environment, but I expect that he’s going to come in here and compete very hard for playing time and battle people, and we’ll see what will happen, and he’ll learn. The better part about it, I guess, for a guy like Kira coming in, is with a new coaching staff coming in, it’s going to be new to everyone out there. It’s not like [he’s] coming in and these guys have played the last three or four years in this system and [he’s] trying to catch up without having Summer League, it’s going to be new to everybody the first day we start practice, so in that way, he’s not as far behind as he might be.”

On Kira Lewis and Lonzo Ball sharing the backcourt together:“I think if you really look around the NBA now, one of the trends we’re seeing for teams that I think is a good one is to try to get multiple playmakers on the floor, a lot of guys that can make plays. I think Lonzo’s there, we’ve already had Brandon there, we’re excited about Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and now Kira. I think there’s going to be a lot of times where we’re playing on the floor with two guys that you would probably classify as point guards, but you can play them together, and I think we’ve seen with some teams, like Oklahoma City last year, their closing lineup was three point guards with Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They were playing three guys like that. I think it’s a trend of get as many playmakers as you can on the floor. You might give up a little bit of size at times, I know with Lonzo we don’t, and those guys are going to go out and play really hard and be very hard to guard off the dribble and make plays for each other.”

On the importance of drafting someone with Kira Lewis’ skill-set:“I’m excited about a few things with him. His speed and quickness, both in transition to push the ball, and to get in the paint and make plays, I think those are outstanding, but I’m also really excited about what we think he can do at the defensive end to pressure the ball, maybe even get up the floor, at times 94-feet and pressure the ball, that’s something I’m really excited about. Something no one has really talked about, you know, friends of mine in the NBA, friends in scouting, I had so many people texted me tonight ‘hey great pick!’ and I had three different people say ‘he’s really an underrated shooter too, don’t let anybody tell you he can’t shoot the ball, he can.’ Just his ability to get in the paint is sort of the thing you think about with him. I’m excited to coach him and get him in here. We’re not going to see him a lot ahead of time, quite honestly, because of the COVID rules and everything else. The building is going to be shut down starting Wednesday next week for six days. He’s going to get here right before camp starts and we’re going to go, but I’m excited to see him.”

On his involvement in the free agency process and his level of excitement:“I think already, when it comes to NBA players, Griff and Trajan ask my opinion on all of those guys, sowith those guys I’ll have more input and more say. One of the reasons I was so attracted to this job isthat I think Griff is very good at what he does, I think Trajan is very good at what he does, I trust thoseguys on player personnel, and when they ask for my opinion I give it, but at the end of the day it’s goingto be their decision on trades and free agency. I have great trust in that, and what it allows me to do,especially when we’re going as fast as we are, is it allows me to spend 90-percent of my time on meetingwith my coaches, because we’re new to each other, and starting to really come together on how wewant to play on the floor, what our system is going to look like. I’ll give opinions, but I’m really puttingmy trust in those two guys, like I said, it’s one of the things that excited me about this job.”

On Kira Lewis in transition:“I think we want to play up-tempo, what that comes down to mean, I’m not totally sure, in terms of howfast and what situations, but we definitely want to get the ball up the floor, and I think if you’re going todo that, clearly you need guys who can get up the floor, but you need guys in transition that can attackand make plays, and the more of those guys you have the better off you’re going to be. To add anotherguy like Kira, who can either be the guy leading the break and pushing the ball and making plays forothers, or can be the guy that we throw ahead to and he can go on the attack, I think he can fit in eitherplace with us. I think that’s what happens when you have multiple ball handlers and you can be moreinterchangeable.”

On interacting with players and preparing for an abnormal season:“I’ve met most of [the players] in person on the roster. The only player I haven’t met is (Nicolo) Mellibecause he’s in Italy, and while my wife thought that was the trip we should definitely take to go meetwith a player, and she encouraged that, I don’t think we could get into the country right now anyway, sothat one has to wait. I’ve talked about this with guys; a lot of what this season is going to be about, Idon’t care players, coaches, [the media], anybody involved in the NBA, it’s about adaptability. It’s notgoing to be what it has been. I don’t care if it’s (the media), or the players, or me, if you want to sit thereand complain because it’s not what you want and it’s not what the season should be, if we can’t getourselves ready to play because it’s not as much fun, because there’s not enough people in the building,you can have a lot of self-pit and never be ready to play. This is all about adaptability. This season isgoing to be totally different and in a lot of ways it may change from day-to-day. We don’t know exactlywhat the rules are going to be. We might play in some arenas where there’s more people, Golden Statehave said they’re going to have people in the building, the Lakers have said they’re not going to haveanyone in the building. It’s going to change from day-to-day. At times, you may have somebody thattests positive, and then they’re going to have to quarantine and you’re going to lose them. Every day,you’re going to come in and it’s going to be different. For us to be good, we have to have the mindset ofwe are going to be ready to compete anytime, anyplace, under any conditions, and I have spouted thatto them already, and will continue to, because that’s the reality of this whole situation, and I’m notgoing to make excuses for myself or my coaching staff and we’re not going to make excuses as a team.It’s cliché now, but it is what it is, this is the season. We have to approach it that way and play by therules that we’re going with this year. We got training camp dates today, we didn’t know yesterday whatwe could do with training camp. Okay, that’s the way it is. We have to be ready on the day they say wecan start.”

On his level of excitement heading into the season:“I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to be with a front office that is very proactive and constantly thinking of ways to make things better. I’m excited with the interactions that I’ve had with our players. I’m excited about our staff. I’m excited about living in New Orleans and I’m excited about getting started in camp. I think it’s fair to say I’m excited.”