The following is the transcript from Hawks president of basketball operations/head coach Mike Budenholzer’s press conference following the NBA trade deadline Thursday:
Opening statement: I would like to start my thanking Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday for everything they’ve done for us. Both great players, great people. Added a lot of what we’ve done this year, obviously with Shelvin what we’ve done the last three years. I wish them luck. I wish nothing but the best for both of them.
I’d also like to follow up with what a great job Wes Wilcox as our general manager has done. His entire group, how well they work together, how diligent they are. They go through everything and uncover every opportunity, every possibility. I think it’s reflective in what we’ve been able to do today. None of this would be possible without Wes and his group.
And far as the transaction today, we are very excited about adding Kirk Hinrich to our group. A veteran point guard who can really play both positions in the backcourt, the 1 and the 2. He’s a very competitive guy. I think he’s a very smart player. He is going to fit in. He is one of those players who has a lot of the qualities that we value and we look for. When I spoke to him, I said he’s going to help us somehow, some way, in a regular-season game, in a playoff game. He’s just one of those guys who finds a way to help teams win. In addition to that we’ve created a roster spot that is really valuable to us. At the end of the day with Tiago (Splitter) and his hip surgery and being out for the season, having an extra roster spot is invaluable to us. We’ll look at the international market, the buyout market, the D-League market. We’ll look at everything. I think there is a little bit of financial flexibility and financial opportunity for us in the long term. All of those things came together for something we feel good about. Obviously, the other teams all feel good about what they are getting.
Q. When you look at Shelvin leaving from the guard position and Kirk coming in, do you see Kirk playing more the 2 that just taking up the minutes at the end of the bench where Shelvin was?
A. No. Kirk is going to get here. Kirk is going to get familiar with us, we’ll get familiar with us. I think there are a few different directions it could go. Kirk understands. We were very honest with him and how we feel about our group. He knows he’s coming to a good team and a good situation. I think he’s going to be very valuable to us. Exactly where or how that happens is still to be determined. But I wouldn’t characterize it as I see him more as a 2 or a 1 or anything like that. He’s going to help us. When and where? As we get to know him and he gets to know us, everybody has to earn everything they get. The guys who are here and Kirk isn’t any different.
Q. In the end, you didn’t make a major move with Al (Horford) or Jeff (Teague) or some of those who have been out there. Were there opportunities out there and you decided not to? Was it in the end liking the group that you have and wanting to go forward with that?
A. I would characterize it as the latter. We very much like our group. I used the phrase or the term we were going to be very protective of the group. At the end of the day, that’s how it played out. We feel great. We are fortunate to have really good players and a good team. I think continuity is something we value through the summer and through the season. We’d like to be better. We’d like to be more consistent. We’d liked to play better. At the end of the day, continuity is something that can help you achieve those things of consistency and playing better. We feel strongly with a ton of confidence and a ton of belief in our group.
Q. It’s kind of subjective but did you come close to making a deal for a Jeff or an Al or did it never really get that far?
A. At the end of the day, I would characterize it as no. But like you said, what exactly is close? I’ll just say no and I feel very good about where we are.
Q. Do you feel the team got better? Or is it to be determined with that open roster spot?
A. I do think both with the addition of Kirk and the additional roster spot that we are in a position to improve and get better and take advantage of opportunities as we play out the last 27 games. I think we are better. It’s hard. Shelvin was a good player for us. Hopefully we have done something good for Shelvin and his career. He was very good to me. He was very good to us. So losing him is not easy. Justin, similarly, hadn’t played as much, hadn’t played as long. For Shelvin and his career, hopefully, this is the right thing for him and we’ll miss him. But with Kirk and an open roster spot, we feel good about being hopefully better and having flexibility going forward.
Q. With the salary cap set to rise, were teams more cautious and we didn’t see a lot of huge moves because that looms this summer and teams are waiting for that?
A. I don’t have a strong feeling or opinion either way that it did or didn’t have an impact. We’ve been pretty focused on ourselves. Right now, I’m not completely up to date on what has and hasn’t happened (around the league). But the spike is something we are all aware of. It goes into as we are thinking about financial opportunities and as we go into the summer and get better. I think every team is similar.
Q. Any indication on when Kirk will arrive in Atlanta?
A. No. We had a good conversation and we’ll work with him. It’s not easy. (He has lived here before). He may know a couple of neighborhoods I didn’t ask him where he lived before. He’s got a family. He’s got young kids. Hopefully he knows, and I communicated with him, family is important and we want him to, when he gets here, feel good and as much as possible be aligned and when he’s here he is ready to go.
Q. Does the dominance of Golden State play into this? You still think you can win a championship, I’m sure, as a lot of teams do, but is it any different with a team that seems like it’s a given or it’s going to be really difficult to beat them this year?
A. I don’t think so. You are in this constant quest to get better or improve, whether you are talking after a practice or now we are talking about this moment in the NBA. They are the defending champion and they are off to a heck of a start. To some degree, it’s not unfair to say we are pursuing what they have, the start they’ve had. They are setting the standard right now. I think a lot of us feel we are competitive and can play with anybody. We are in that group. If we can get closer and get better, it obviously will help us when we compete against them or the best teams in the league.
Q. Your system is a bit complex with a lot of different reads. Will that affect when Kirk can play or when he feels comfortable because there is a lot to learn?
A. With any team, when you join midstream, it’s not the easiest for the player who is coming in and for his teammates and coaches to get completely comfortable and a real deep understanding. But part of the reason we are excited about Kirk is he is such a smart player and he’s been around a long time. I think he knows how to play basketball. At the end of the day, if you know how to play basketball I think you can learn and quickly integrate yourself into any system. We are not any different.
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