Monday, July 9, 2007

Q&A: P.J. Carlesimo

I had a chance to chat briefly with new Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo after this morning's shootaround about the NBA Summer League and his busy life since being named the 15th head coach in franchise history just four days ago.

What are you looking for and hoping to see while you're down here?
I'm really not looking to see much, per se. What I'm really looking to do more than anything is get to know the guys. I just want to spend some time with them, get to know them, watch their games a little bit. Summer league - it's a little bit of an indicator, but the truth is, there's not a lot of NBA guys here, so it's hard to make any decisions or watch somebody and say, 'He's going to do this well in the regular season,' because it's apples and oranges. To me, it's much more important for me to get to know Mo (Sene) and Johan (Petro) and Mickaƫl (Gelabale) and Jeff (Green) and Kevin (Durant) and spend some time with them.

Yeah, I am watching the games. You do see how guys compete, you see how they handle different situations, but it's much more just let's get acquainted - even from a basketball standpoint. You just watch, make some observations. If you do see something, yeah, take note, but it's not like I'm hoping to see something or if all of a sudden somebody starts scoring a lot of points and getting a lot of rebounds, that doesn't always translate to the regular season. It's less what they're doing on the court and more getting to know them.

Is summer league important in the process of building a culture?
Yes and no. Yes in that Ralph (Lewis) is stressing defense, yes in that we don't them to do things here we're not going to want them to do during the regular season. Having said that, we don't even have a coaching staff. We don't have three-quarters of our team or two-thirds of our team, whatever the percentage is that's not here. After you are months down the line in terms of trying to build a culture, as we will be at the end of this year, then maybe next summer we can build a little bit of a bridge back to what we have already established because the guys that will be playing summer league next year who were on the team during the regular season will know what is expected of them and they'll be able to set a tone for the other guys. None of that knowledge is here right now. I'm not saying we don't care what happens here - don't misunderstand - but it's impossible for them to know what we want because they haven't been through it yet.

When you were interviewed during the webcast of Friday's game, you said you had yet to get back to people who were interested in being part of your staff as assistants. Have you since then?
No, I still haven't. I'm hopeful maybe tomorrow. I'm not even close, to be honest with you. We just have so many other things on the plate. Not that coaching staff is not important - in a lot of ways it's the most important thing for me because those are the guys that are going to teach and those are the guys who are going to develop that culture - but there's been too many other things that are more time-pressing and I haven't had a chance to get to that. Once I get to that, you're going to go crazy, unfortunately. We will be the last staff hired, so there's a lot of guys out there that are really anxious. One of these days I'm going to start returning some calls and start making some decisions and sitting down with people face to face.

Have you had a chance to breathe since last Thursday?
I really haven't, to be honest with you, but that's expected. That happens any time you change jobs. It especially happens the later you are in the situation. For us, it happened at the same time as not one but two summer leagues. There's so many other things on the table that Sam's got and he and I are discussing. We're just trying to play catch-up. Unfortunately, there's two, three, four things going on at the same time. That's just how it is. If the transition had happened months ago, it would be a little more orderly and you'd have time to focus on different things at different times. We're trying to focus on everything at the same time, which is not always easy.