“For me, it’s still what could I have done better with the roster that I did have. I’ll take that hit. I’ll take that hit because it’s only going to help me get better. Those guys will get better moving forward as they get healthier and that’s fine. It’s good for them. For me, it’s how could I have been better in the situation that I had. That’s the only way I’ll look at it.”
On his relation with Trae Young and players in general: “I think in any situation, and I’ve been an assistant coach me entire life until this job, one of the things I tried to do as often as I could was really just focus on the overall growth of the individual who I was coaching. Along those lines, it wasn’t always based on me being a great relationship guy. I didn’t want to be friends with everyone. I didn’t want to be their best friend. I wanted to be a guy who was citing as many examples as we could. What I did on my staff is I put every assistant coach with the players. A number of my assistant coaches has a number of players who they were mainly responsible for. They spent the time watching film. They spent the time on the court with their pregame vitamins. They were the ones charged with having tremendous relationships. That’s how it is, pretty much, with all NBA teams, how you divvy up the duties and responsibilities.
“So for any of our guys, and I don’t want to point out Trae and make it a bigger deal than it is, for any of our guys my job is to take all the hits. My job is also to get some of the credit. So if a relationship is strained, yeah that’s on me. If a guy is playing tremendous, I don’t necessarily say that’s on me as well. I like to deflect that and give that to the coach which was working with that guy. DeAndre Hunter was just named to the Rising Stars game. Well I’m going to give Matt Hill a ton of credit because he works with DeAndre Hunter. I’m not going to take that credit. I understand as the head coach it’s always going to be on me to make sure I put my guys, my staff, in position to operate successfully. So the relationships aren’t great. They are never going to be great. I’m the guy who has to pull the guy out of the game when he doesn’t think he needs to come out. That’s not going to be a great relationship all the time. I’m the guy who has to tell him to move the basketball more. That’s not going to be a great relationship. I have to make those.
“I tell our guys at the beginning of the year, 10 of you guys should be happy all year. Five of you guys should be pissed at me all year. I can’t play 15 guys. So you understand that before you even get going. And then the 10 that are out there, five of them will want the ball a little more. They are not going to be happy with me. Five of them are going to be really ecstatic. So you go back and forth with that. But that isn’t my job. My job is not to be best friends with these guys. My job is for them to understand me, to respect me, to know I have a plan and vision and I got to get them to try to execute that.
“I think that anyone who has every watched us play understands. I had a coach hit me up and say you guys are always the hardest team to game plan for because you were organized, you ran stuff and you guys showed up and there was versatility and balance. That’s my job. My job is to make sure that when we step on the court, we’re prepared, we’re organized, we’re hard to guard. Other than that, you put them in position where they can make plays and use their natural-given talent and work ethic to succeed.