Notes from Today's TNT & NBA TV Season Preview Conference Call
Editor’s Note: Full audio replay of today’s media conference call – http://bit.ly/2dOnCFx.
TNT will officially tip off its 33rd consecutive year of NBA coverage on Tuesday, Oct. 25, with a doubleheader featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the new-look New York Knicks at 8 p.m. In the night’s second game, the Golden State Warriors – coming off an NBA record 73 regular season wins – will host the San Antonio Spurs at 10:30 p.m.
NBA TV will tip off its regular season coverage with four consecutive nights of live game action beginning Saturday, October 29 with the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the San Antonio Spurs at 8 p.m., followed by the Minnesota Timberwolves facing the Sacramento Kings at 10:30 p.m.
Earlier today, TNT analyst Reggie Miller and TNT/NBA TV analysts Kevin McHale and Grant Hill shared their insights on the 2016-17 NBA season:
McHale on how coaching helps with his broadcasting duties: “Every experience you have helps you. You look at the game a little differently. I played a long time ago. I coached in Minnesota when I was there a long time ago. There is an evolution to the game and it does change as it goes along. It is more of a constant battle to get the guys on the team to put the team first. You have to be constantly pulling them back to that message. There are a few teams that don’t have that. Would I ever coach again? It would have to be the right situation. So never say never.”
McHale on how the Houston Rockets will look this season: “By adding [Eric] Gordon and [Ryan] Anderson that is going to help them with the three-point shooting, but are they going to be able to defend enough? Are they going to be dedicated enough on the defensive end? You have guys on that team that will defend and really do put team first but can they get that blend of guys to put the team first and defend at a level where they can win tight games.”
McHale on Rockets guard James Harden: “James is hell of a player. There is nothing that kid can’t do. He’s small, he’s strong. He just has to be wired into defense.”
McHale on what is expected of the Boston Celtics: “They will play very well. [Al] Horford was a good pick up for them. But I think [they] would like to get another star type of player. They have a lot of young players. I think they have a great coach and great chemistry and a great fight to them. They will win games in the 80s and have a tremendous fight about that team. They need another guy like [Isaiah] Thomas. That’s not taking away from anything they have. It’s hard to win playoff games if you don’t have that horse coming down and shifting and giving space to other players.”
Miller on whether the New York Knicks are better: “A lot of new pieces for the Knicks. I do like the picks up of [Derrick] Rose and [Joakim] Noah, and then you add Brendon Jennings who I thought was a steal this season. They have gotten better. Coach [Jeff] Hornacek, from everything I’ve been watching and reading he’s going to run his system. They are not triangle-type players; they are free flowing. I do like their first six or seven guys. They are better and longer. The question is going to be health. You are wondering if Noah and Rose can get to the finish line because of the health problems over the last few seasons. Are they better on paper, absolutely. I just hope they can get to the finish line. If they can stay healthy for 82 games, they have a real shot of making the playoffs in the East.”
Hill on same question about the Knicks: “They will be better. I anticipate a big improvement. Even if [Noah and Rose] are not at the level that we are accustomed to seeing them at, as long as they can go out and be productive… I also thought last year despite all the challenges, I did think that when Carmelo Anthony was healthy, he did make an attempt to have an overall game. [Kristaps] Porzingis will be better this year. He along with Rose and Noah will take a lot of the load off ‘Melo. You will see improvement. Are they a playoff team? I think you want to slow down before you start saying that.”
Miller on the Chicago Bulls’ offseason and the backcourt combo of Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo:“They are great open court players. With the league going towards three-point shooters, if you look at their numbers they would be at the bottom of all players in the NBA. You need dribble penetration. If you put Wade, Butler in [isolation] situations or pick and roll situations, you are talking about three of the best layers in the league. For Chicago, it is going to be about timely three pointers. Can these guys be consistent at making threes at critical times? I understand one-on-one basketball and Butler, an All-Star, and Rondo, a former All-Star, they know how to play. Looking at their preseason games, the chemistry is there. Looking at how the NBA is tending now, teams are playing smaller which is a plus for Chicago.
Hill on playing past 35, and whether Dwyane Wade can reinvent his game: “It is possible. It is great that he is thinking along those line. From my own personal experience, be cognizant of what you eat, rest, the weight room…it is a full effort that is necessary to extend your career and have longevity. And he is transitioning and playing a different role. It is possible. I think he has something down on the low block. All of his years as an All-Star, he has become more efficient. He doesn’t have to use his athleticism down the court to beat you but rather use his intellect.”
Miller on the same question about Wade’s reinvention: “It is about reinventing yourself. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fred Hoiberg is going to have to do a better job of managing his minutes. He’s going to have to do a better job of practice minutes and game minutes. He could put D-Wade at point guard because of his penetration to be more of a facilitator. Because of his ability to break down the defense, his vision as a shooting guard, I wouldn’t be surprised if he could be a back up point guard to Rondo and a second unit when Rondo goes to the bench. But you have to be committed to that.”
McHale on same question about Wade and Bulls: “I’ve coached Fred and worked with him in the front office. He’s going to use those guys in different positions. You will see a lot of swing-swing of the ball, slot driving. And those guys will all have to be facilitators and that is when the three-point shooting becomes effective. You are going to see Fred use Rondo as a facilitator. I think Fred will do a good job of letting them make plays.”
Miller on what the Lakers can accomplish this season: “It will be tough. It has been a tough two seasons. You add some good young pieces – [Brandon] Ingram, [D’Angelo] Russell, [Jordan] Clarkson. You have some vets to balance with those young guys. Those core four guys… I like that young core. If the franchise can work with them. These guys are young but they are talented with having [Kobe] Bryant gone now – as great as he was- they can be out there and grow and learn. For the franchise’s sake you hope they are playing better and more confidently. It is more about them using this year as a chance to get better.”
Miller on same question about Los Angeles Lakers: “It is about building towards the future. The Kobe show a season ago, D’Angelo and Jordan got caught up being spectators. Luke Walton is coming in with a totally new system. The hardcore four has to build towards the future. Living out here in Los Angeles, this will always be a Lakers town. They need to win. If they can continue to get better…it will be those four guys recruiting the players of the future. So building towards the future is key. Larry Nance Jr. is critical in their success. He can do a little bit of everything at both ends of the floor. They will be much better at home than on the road. They have to continue to grow and learn the game of basketball.”
Miller on the Miami Heat franchise being tarnished with the Big Three Breakup: “Listen, you are talking about a guy that played 18 years for one organization…. But for Dwyane Wade, he will always be the face of the Miami Heat. Bringing them their first championship and willing them on his back. With a young Dwyane Wade we saw glimpses of greatness. To go out and recruit [Chris] Bosh and LeBron James and win two more, I personally feel like they should have opened up the check book. However, if there is one guy that can get the Miami Heat back on track - from a management standpoint - that would be Pat Riley.”
Hill on the relationship between Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade: “I have the utmost respect for Pat Riley and that organization. Sometimes you have to transition and move on. I do think time heals wounds and in time both sides will be able to move past it. Don’t be surprised if at some point Dwyane Wade is in that organization in some capacity. When I think of the Heat and the long term success they have, I think of Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade and I do think they will work together again.”
McHale on how the Knicks will perform this season: “I think they will make the playoffs. They have to get 10-11 [more] wins out of that 32-win team from last year. I think it is there for them. Does that make them a force in the east? I don’t know but you have to start somewhere. You have to get the young kids playoff experience. I know playoff experience doesn’t mean much to Carmelo [Anthony]. At his stage he wants to make a run in the playoffs and compete for a championship but I don’t think they are at that level.”
McHale on Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge’s strategy with players: “Danny is doing it the right way. He’s not panicking… Which is the opposite of the guy I know. Danny is one of the most impulsive people I know and I’m shocked he doesn’t make a trade every week. He is a disciplined general manager which is funny because he is very undisciplined person.”
Miller on Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo: “I think they should take their act on the road. They love to dress to the nine. They both swear they are the next American Idol or The Voice. From an entertainment standpoint, I think it is exciting. From a basketball standpoint, I think it is even better. You have two guys that will put so much pressure on the defense. Victor Oladipo is very much the same way. It is a great pairing. It will be interesting to see how Coach Donovan plays both of those guys together. If you are a team in transition defense, and it’s not your number one priority when playing the Thunder, you are going out be in a lot of trouble because those guys can put so much pressure on in the open court.”
Miller on Zach LaVine’s potential for being a premier shooter in the league: “When he as at UCLA, we all knew about his athleticism and ability to finish. This guy has put in a lot of time in the lab. Zach is one of those guys staying an hour or two after pick up and working on that three-point shot. You add that to that quick first step and ability to finish over the bigs, he’s trying to round out his game. I’m happy for him. He can improve upon it he can make himself a long stay player. The confidence is there.”
McHale on New Orleans Pelicans’ forward Anthony Davis: “He is a hell of a talent. I think that young man has a lot of room for growth. That guy right there is not a part of the problem; he is the solution for that team. He can play. I really like his game. I like him on the defensive end but there are a ton of unknowns for that team.”
Hill on the Houston Rockets and their system: “[As] someone that has played in that [Mike] D’Antoni system, playing with a guy in Steve Nash that was a willing passer and go out of his way to find you. You had a quarterback at point guard out there that was going to pass and play a balanced game.”