Anton Price - The Past History
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|01-01-2020, 09:50 AM||#1|
Anton Price - The Past History
I was watching the players head-down in the tunnel leading us back to the locker room. The strongest mentally trying to comfort the most disappointed. I was trying to understand how we could have lost this game. The players tried each other in their place, head in hands for some, low for others or hidden under the towel for some. Everyone was looking down. I had to speak.
- Gentlemen, thank you for raising your heads, I want to see all your eyes. I was looking at the players one by one while continuing my speech. We met the Long Island Nets three times this season. We beat them once, why? The lack of success in shooting. We had targeted their strength in front of us, the rebounds. Iím not making anything up, just watch again tonight. They take twenty bounces more than we do... TWENTY! Seriously, gentlemen, how is that possible? Tonight Kamary Murphy and Mitchell Creek took respectively six and five rebounds each. Thatís more than us in total! In total guys! On our side itís four offensive rebounds against sixteen. I warned you! You had to beat like never before on the rebound. We had the means to win if you had done everything you could in this field!
The players lowered their heads again as I spoke. Itís not an attitude I wanted to see, you had to take responsibility for your mistakes and keep your head up to keep learning.
- You know why Iím upset? Itís not just because we had the qualities to get them out. Itís especially for you! You know why youíre here at 905 Raptors? Youíre here to develop and motivate the Raptors or other franchises to get you signed in the NBA. Just like Siakam, now a candidate for the MIP! Guys, itís for you that Iím upset. Iím not worried about some people, like you, Chris with your MVP G-League season title, but for others itís gonna be tough. Thatís why Iím so frustrated! My goal is to make you NBA players. So gentlemen, our season ends in play-off, and just for that I congratulate you. Raise your head, be proud of yourself! Never lower your head, you never lose, you learn continuously! Guys, thank you for this season and good luck for next year! All with me at the center!
All the players stood up and came to the center, inviting all the staff to come. We were all in a circle together. Chris Boucher joined me at the center for one last war cry.
- "9! 0! 5!"
Everyone clapped and each returned to his seat until his locker. I was looking at the box scores again, regretting I couldnít do better with our staff. I debrief with my staff quickly. I wasnít thinking about it, and the paper quickly ended up in the garbage. It was time to go home.
On the way home, Nick Nurse and Masai Ujiri called to congratulate me on the season despite this defeat. We had quite a bit of exchange, they were watching carefully the development of certain players.
The time was now at rest, to enjoy the NBA playoffs before the next season. At least thatís what I imagined before my best friend Matthew called. We met a long time ago. Our respective parents were long-time friends and took turns inviting each other on weekends, which allowed us to create a beautiful friendship. It has become stronger over the years and our paths have often been common. We wanted to break into basketball and dreamed of a story similar to the ones we knew of duets such as Stockton and Malone, Nash and Stoudemire or Kobe and the Shaq'. These thoughts remained in the statutes of dreams...
We had each made some inroads in basketball, but not in the situation we talked about so much when we were younger. For my part, after quickly realizing that my basketballistic qualities were too modest to hope for a career in the NBA, my university studies were in Toronto and the Varsity Blues. At the end of my studies, I had managed to find a job in the car industry, but after three years, I decided to give up everything to become an assistant coach at my former university. Then, after the coach left, I was named head coach in my turn. I spent five years at the head of the team before I was offered the position of coach of the 905 Raptors.
For his part, Matthew had had the same degree. After university, he had found a position for a newspaper, before becoming an NBA annalist for CBS. His role was to follow the Californian teams and trace the news for the network.
He had called me, to congratulate me on the season and so we could meet quickly. Now that I was on vacation, I had a lot more time to give him. I had asked him to come to the Real Sports Bar in a few days, to have a drink, have a bite to eat and watch the last game of the season in Toronto.
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|01-03-2020, 06:34 PM||#2|
Re: Anton Price - The Past History
Sitting at the counter with a drink in my hand, I was watching the giant screen in front of the last game in Toronto. I wasn’t really focused. I had the ideas elsewhere. It was my little post-game ritual. When I could, I came to relax in a bar. I waved to the bartender to serve me the same. I was enjoying the rest I had, because he was about to be disturbed by my oldest friend Matthew.
- Hello Mr. Price, said Matthew in a jovial tone when he arrived.
- Please, call Anton. No need to be so solemn, I replied while smiling.
- How are you?
- As after a defeat…
- It was deserved?
- From the moment you are unable to take your defensive rebounds, you do not make the task easier. - Inevitably, seen like this...
- Finally, I don’t want to talk about it… So explain to me why you wanted to see me.
- You’re right, let’s talk about this. I was invited to a party where there were nice people...
- An evening…? Is that why you wanted to see me? You couldn’t text me about it?
- No, I couldn’t text you because it was a very special evening… It was the birthday of a lawyer friend of his close entourage a Michael Reinsdorf, son of the owner of the Chicago Bulls.
- Tell me so…
- With my work, I have met several times with staff members, such as him or his father. He is also a great lover of Chicago.
- Really? It’s crazy! You totally changed my perception about this city! Seriously, that’s sweet, but what’s it got to do with me?
- I’m coming. We had to talk basketball with Michael. As the evening passed as quickly as the glasses, confidences began to erupt. It’s no secret, there’s little chance that Jim Boylen will coach the Bulls next year. The best part? Your name begins to circulate during the evening!
- My name begins to circulate? What do you mean by that?
- It is very simple, I knew from my sources that it was murmuring in the corridors of the United Center, but here it is different, I heard it from the mouths of influential members. At the moment, your performances after four years at the head of the 905 have been noticed, only your ideas and your vision of basketball, they do not know them. So I took the opportunity to tell them that I knew you personally and that I could connect you if he wanted me to. They showed up open and the father gave me his number so you could contact him so you could agree on a date.
- I don’t know how to react to what you just said, I replied to Matthew. I had a strange feeling, between joy and anxiety…
- One thing is for sure, it will accelerate for you, so if I were in your position, I would try to get close to an agent.
- Do you think it would be necessary? Already?
- Don’t delay too much…
We continued to talk about this evening, as well as our high school years, our current life or the NBA for several hours. After a good meal, I thought about everything that Mat had told me. I had a hard time believing that people were starting to seriously talk about me.
|01-05-2020, 05:02 PM||#3|
Retro NBA Nut
Re: Anton Price - The Past History
Wow! Loving this already!
|01-05-2020, 05:37 PM||#4|
Re: Anton Price - The Past History
It was like this, without really knowing how all this was possible, that I had landed in Chicago to meet Reinsdorf. The news was definitely going very fast. In the taxi that took me to the United Center, I read the press on my phone. I was looking at an article about a meeting between the Bulls' executives and a mysterious coach. No one wondered who the lucky man was. I read that with a smile on my face.
When he got there, Jerry and his son were there waiting for me. I barely had time to say hello to them that they invited me to follow them into the father’s office, in which Gar Forman was already waiting for us. For them, it was easier to talk together.
We had disclaimed things and others during the first minutes, to set up a small atmosphere. Then the questions got more focused on basketball, my background and the Bulls.
As for the first two topics, it took us a short hour. Lunch was coming up and Jerry, wanting to extend our interview, had invited me to accompany them to a restaurant. After reviewing the last season and the current staff, he wanted to know how, in my opinion, the franchise should be positioned to move forward, despite their predefined strategy. It was time for me to be persuasive.
- Being able to benefit from a high pick is a real bargain! We must capitalize on that at all costs and not try to trade it. With what we’ve seen in the NCAA and your staff, I would advise you on two choices, depending on your location, Barrett or Morant.
- Can you elaborate on the reason for these choices, asked Jerry.
- Let’s start with R. J. Barrett. It is announced in the top 3 of the draft, so if you are not placed in the leading trio it will be difficult I think. He has all the qualities to play in the NBA. He has a reading of the game and an impressive passing quality. I’m not even talking about his offensive play or his athletic qualities, too underrated "because" of a high-profile Zion. Then, when we look at the stats, we notice that it has an average at 22.6 points, as much as Zion, 7.6 rebounds, one less than the latter and 4.3 assists. All this with a shooting percentage above 45% and 30% outdoors. Stats and percentage very good and much less publicized than those of Zion. As for Morant, he is an explosive leader who is already compared to leaders such as Westbrook or Wall, his game vision and his physical qualities. When he enters the racket, in addition to an impressive relaxation, he knows how to take the shocks, despite his frail physique. His greatest strength, I think, is his leadership. He has an ability to make others better. He took his college to himself between his shooting decisions and his passing decisions. In stats, we are talking about a double-double player with 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 10 assists. These are the players you should be heading for.
- Your presentation is very good, but why take them when we have Otto Porter and Kris Dunn?
- It is true that you already have quality elements, but Barrett has a much higher ceiling than Otto Porter, not to mention his contract. As for Dunn, I think it has reached its ceiling. In the current NBA, a quality leader is essential to go far. He is a good player, with undeniable passing and defence qualities, but he has a level too low to allow you to go further. I’m sorry to say that, because those are choices you’ve made.
- There is no harm! We are not sitting here discussing all this, the owner told me.
- We are also here to discuss this, so what would you change in this case, asked Gar Forman.
- Very well, after analysing the end of his sentence, I felt the pressure rising, I had to be good. I sincerely believe that Lavine, Maarkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. must be your priority for work, and we must capitalize on that. We are entering an area where we must not be afraid to play young people, like the Nets, the Kings or the Nuggets. Two of these three franchises are in playoff and the roster is not unfamiliar. The addition of a fourth, such as Barrett or Morant, would not be a bad idea at all, but they should be surrounded to help them improve.
- Thinking about particular players? suddenly says Jerry
- I am thinking of players such as Covington, for example, to help a Barrett or take the place of a Porter, a return of Rose, an ideal 6th man profile or even a Beverley. GM looked at me in an intriguing way, I felt I was holding him through my ideas. Especially since they are players born in Illinois, see even all in Chicago. I think that quality "city products" could allow us to climb up the top of the ranking.
- Indeed, it is a speech that stands, Michael said casually looking at his father.
Our discussion continued for more than an hour. At the end of our interview, I had the feeling of a successful interview appointment. On the plane, by the time I got back, I was asleep, thinking about what might happen to me soon. I had to call my handlers, discuss a possible departure.
|01-07-2020, 07:58 AM||#5|
Re: Anton Price - The Past History
The next day I got another call from my best friend. I had to be ready, because according to his sources, two other franchises were coming to me. He explained to me that a close friend of the Chicago executives had given my name to the journalists who were trying to know the identity of the coach they met the day before. So my profile would have appealed to two other franchises, but unfortunately he didn’t have the opportunity to give me the names. We continued to talk for a few minutes. He also told me about the fact that the Nets executives were thinking about not keeping D'Angelo Russell... We were both pretty shocked after his huge season.
In the afternoon, as I was watching the stats of some young NCAA players, my phone started ringing. It was Sam Presti. He wanted to meet me, alone, to discuss several points together. I accepted the appointment without hesitation.
A few days later, we met in a meeting room at the Chesapeake Arena with a view of the floor. Sam explained to me that he had vibrated more than once in this room thanks to the fans of the franchise, who were among the best according to him.
After praising the installations, as well as the fans, he invited me to sit down to begin the interview.
- First of all, I want to apologize on behalf of Mr Bennett. Unfortunately he did not have the opportunity to join us. He simply asked me to be able to record our interview, so that he too could form an opinion if necessary.
- No problem for me.
- Okay. So let’s start with the season, what do you say?
- Of course. So a sixth place, rather disappointing on several points, if I may.
- Allow me. I want to know your analysis.
- First of all on the squad. Lack of bench depth and too many injuries at first. Only 7 players at 70 games minimum. It’s hard to finish very high in the standings with that, even if in my opinion there was better to do to be in the top 4.
- Continue, says GM.
- Then in terms of results... Eliminated in the first round by the Rockets two years ago, Utah last year, Portland this year... Even if according to Paul Georges, author of a huge season by the way, the shoot of Lillard was bad. All I remember is an inability to get past that first round. Is it mental? Is it level? In any case, I think that starting over again on a new basis would not be too much...
- What do you mean by that? he asked me intrigued.
- To me, one of the problems of this duel against Portland is that Westbrook wanted to beat Lillard, whereas Lillard wanted to beat OKC. Your leader had too personal a vision on this series. He was looking too hard for the and-one, he was unable to adjust to the Blazzers... In addition, despite all his work, he has not managed to turn the franchise around. I think we should seriously consider letting him go, just like Paul Georges, even Steven Adams. You finish with the 6th best attack on the season and the 15th best defence! Hard to get a better play-off when you know that a title is won on a solid defense...
- Do you think we should separate ourselves from our best players to improve?
- What have you got to lose? You have no background while Billy Donovan has been here since has been here for years and you can’t get past the first playoff round in three years.
- Very well... But for whom?
- For young players. Today, reconstruction takes place there, like what was done in Brooklyn and Sacramento. There is no shortage of young people. I can give you the name of a superstar who is becoming accessible... Mitchell Robinson. GM started laughing. What are you laughing at?
- In your mind, is Mitchell Robinson better than Steven Adams to go further?
- In the short term, no, in the medium term, without hesitation. We are talking about a player who in the rookie season was able to turn 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 counters per game in 20 minutes on a weak team. Remind me of the stats of Adams at the same age? Reassure me I already know them. Has he already achieved a season at least 2.4 against average? Here again, I already have the answer. We are talking about a player paid $25 million a year, unable to stop Enes Kanter. For someone who has a reputation for being tough on the man in defense, he’s been incredibly nonchalant on this show. This time, Sam Presti looked at me differently. In addition, this year, as you know as well as I do, there will be 60% of NBA players in the free agency market. It’s not the lack of opportunity that’s going to be there. According to my sources, the Nets are wondering about their leader.... If D'Angelo Russell is on the market, why not take advantage of it?
- You’re starting to interest me... I didn’t have the information...
- I am fortunate to have a friend who works for the media. I have the opportunity to discuss things and other...
- Since we are talking in confidence, I will tell you one as well. The owner would consider changing the visual indentity of the franchise. We want someone who can create a new mindset and who can create a solid band that can regularly go far in play-off for that. As if to mean the Westbrook-Harden-Durant air is over and we have to move on.
- So I see big changes. I’m not really afraid of changes. When you’re a coash in the G-League, it’s your everyday life.
We continued to talk about the workforce and a lot about coaching. Worries that OKC had encountered with the lack of adjustment made by Billy Donovan or the fact that the team is not a backdrop other than passing the ball to Westbrook and let it go.
At the end of our interview, Sam Presti thanked me and promised to keep me informed as soon as possible of the outcome, whether positive or negative.
As soon as the plane landed on the tarmac, I called Matthew to tell him about the interview. I was convinced that he was going to meet other coaches. We were thinking of Monthy Williams, who had been there as an assistant. My friend also told me about Dave Joerger, who had recently been available.
I barely had time to land at home as my phone sauna again. I didn’t know the number.
- Mr. Price?
- That’s me. I said to a female voice.
- All right, please don’t leave.
- Anton Price? asked me for a much more masculine voice. Hello it’s Koby Altman.
- Hello Mr Altamn, I now had the third franchise identity I wanted.
- Dan Gilbert and I would like to meet with you tomorrow afternoon. Would that be possible for you?
- I can get organized.
- Very good. My personal secretary will forward the information to you.
- In that case, I’ll see you tomorrow Anton. Until then, do not accept any offers, wait to see us before you do, he says, smiling.
- I don’t think I’ll be back so soon, you know, in the same tone.
- You know, sometimes things can go very fast. See you tomorrow.
The conversation was brief but I was now set. I was going to meet with the leaders of a recently champion team. Matthew was right, my future seemed to be on the side of the big league.
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|01-15-2020, 08:40 AM||#6|
Re: Anton Price - The Past History
In the car that took me to the Q Arena, I was thinking about a sentence that Sam Presty had said to me the day before. He had explained that he wanted to "change the identity of the franchise to something else after the Westbrook-Harden-Durant air show". Russell is still on staff now, so what does that mean? Would he have been convinced by what I told him about a possible Westbrook trade? Is that already part of his ambitions? Is he aware of things he did not want to tell me about? That simple sentence provoked a lot of questions. As I thought about it, I looked out the window of the vehicle and saw the city. Surprisingly, Cleveland was more welcoming and friendly than I had expected. It's a long way from the big party cities like Miami, New York or Los Angeles, but it can be an advantage. Players can concentrate solely on basketball.
Arriving at the meeting point, a woman was waiting for me, after being warned by the driver. She drove me to a meeting room where Koby Altman and Dan Gilbert were already there.
After the customary greetings and courtesy, the two men introduced me to the situation. It was simple, tried to build around the Sexton / Love duo, add talent with the next draft and at least get some aspiring contracts, in order to be active for the next free agency.
- The situation after the loss of LeBron is in the reconstruction, as you have understood, the GM tells me.
- Yes, again. Then, if I may, look at what the Clippers did last season. They were hailed by their peers, by the way. This proves that tanker is not necessarily a solution. Sometimes smart transfers and good coaching can make a difference.
- But in that case you have to have attractive players, have you seen the contracts of some players in relation to their level?
- Of course, but the best way to trade players is to get them to play. I'm not going to talk to you about play-offs with the current squad, you just have to try to play. Moreover, the draft that's coming up looks pretty promising. Is your goal to recruit or to take advantage of your 6th position to find an interesting trade?
- Don't hesitate to recruit! Dan tells me dryly.
- We're wondering about a guard to create a backcourt similar to the one in Portland, Koby said.
- Wait a minute. Pick up a shooting guard or a point guard, why not. Although I don't think Sexton has the basketball IQ to be a truly great player.
- Excuse me? Mr. Altman asked.
- Honestly, I've watched several games involving him, let me tell you that you'd better offer him a trade, or make him a benchwarmer. I have real doubts about his ability to become a talented playmarker, such as Lou Williams, for example.
- Our goal is not really to get rid of a player who barely drafts Mr. Price, explained Dan Gilbert.
- You brought me in for an interview, so let me tell you what I think about some of the players.
- Why don't you tell us about the workforce? What do you think and what would you do? asked the GM.
- So, for the point guard position, Sexton remains your best player, especially in terms of value for money. Dellavedova and Knight are in their final year of contracts. So it's hard to go looking for a trade, unless you have a really interesting offer, otherwise it's better to let them go free at the end of the season. For the shooting guard, you have mainly Jordan Clarkson. We'll have to see what he can deliver. I understand that he would like to become sixth man or MIP of the year, so depending on his performance see if it would be necessary to keep him or not.
- So far I'm inclined to agree with you.
- Let's talk about the small forwards now, or rather THE small forward, with Cedi Osman. Interesting player coming off the bench. No more. He can't be an NBA starting linebacker at his current level. Too limited, despite a very interesting outside shot. As far as the power forward concerned, Kevin Love and Larry Nance are perfect. Watch out for injuries to the former. And finally, for the center position, Thompson and Henson. Now, we're on two contracts that expire at the end of the season. The Canadian could be interesting to renew, but cheaper and off the bench, especially if he avoids the Kardashian clan. I don't think he's the type to accept that. The second one is to be let go. That's my analysis of the workforce. In other words, there's work to be done! Now, if I were you, I'm not sure I'd stand by and wait.
- What do you mean? What would you do? asked the owner.
- I would try to get rid of my contracts now in exchange for the possibility of getting back interesting players such as Monte Morris or Malik Beasley. Players to be developed, but who guarantee a better future than the current players. I am thinking for example of Dellavedova or Clarkson. They can be useful to bring a little extra to some competitors. I don't say all the players, because I think that Knight or Henson are toxic contracts and are impossible to trade in an interesting way.
- Maybe. Dan answered again.
- I sense you're sceptical. He didn't answer anything. Remember what was announced about the Clippers, the "expectations" about the franchise. All in all, it was a good season for the fans. Wouldn't you wish your franchise had a season like that? I sincerely believe that this can be possible through intelligent trades and good coaching. I certainly wouldn't have the same speech if we were in the West, but in the East it is still possible. The two men looked at me without saying anything. Besides, do you really want to look at the freelance agency of 2020? The one that is coming will put 60% of the players currently under contract on the market and there will be a good number of big players, such as Irving, Butler, Cousins or Durant. The one of 2020 will not have the same face... The best possible recruits would be Millsap, Whiteside, Gasol or Gallinari... That's why I think it would be better to look at young up-and-coming players and good role players and veterans to accompany them.
The two men looked at each other. Dan Guilbert leaned over to Koby Altman and whispered something in his ear. The GM smiled and then turned his head towards me to speak.
- Your speech is not uninteresting. Do you have any examples for me? Good deals, players that you check out with us or that would match what you just said.
- Of course, I'm sure I could. I've got a few to offer you. Well, for starters, at the draft level. As I said, Colin Sexton doesn't seem like the right choice to put the franchise back on the track it's been on for the last four years. Why not get a point guard? I'm thinking Coby White or Darius Garland. Given our position, it will be impossible for us to get Ja Morant back, unfortunately, unless you make a trade. Then there's a player not to be underestimated, despite his age, Brandon Clarke. Of course we're talking about a 23-year-old player, but have you seen his stats at Gonzaga? I'll let you be the judge of that. I had a document with me that I gave to Koby Altman that documented his stats.
- It's a small forward/power forward combo that I find very interesting. I'm going to be transparent, it seems more useful to me as a power forward. Kevin Love is often injured and we know his concerns about his mental health. It's important to have a player who can really support him and not just an average substitute. Secondly, in terms of my philosophy of play, in role players I think of players like Josh Hart, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley or even a player like Ish Smith coming off the bench. As for veterans, I think of players like Covington, Jeff Green, Iman Shumpert or Derrick Rose. The last two have played for the Cavs before, but Shumpert is a decent 3&D, which was particularly useful when you won in 2016. I just think that after that, he lost motivation due to various problems such as Irving / LeBron worries or starts. For Derrick Rose it's different. He really wasn't well when he came to you, for the reasons we know. Today he is better and would be a perfect addition as the sixth man. I'm going to go even further, like the Lou Williams - Show Harrell duo, you need two to see three quality players coming off the bench. I'm thinking of players who are more or less neglected by the other franchises, good players, but who don't necessarily have the confidence of the coaches or the GMs anymore. Imagine D-Rose / Melo / Howard coming off the bench. Can you imagine that? Certainly, they are strong characters to manage, but if they all accept their role, imagine what that could do. Melo is a player with more than 25,000 points, currently with no franchise! It's true that his big problem is his defense, but if he's asked to focus only on his shoot from the bench, just playing catch and shoot, he can be a crazy weapon! For Howard, we're talking about a player who has been accumulating chess since leaving Orlando, but we're talking about a player with over 18,000 points, 13,000 rebounds and 2,000 counters! A monster who can easily make the difference when coming off the bench against a second unit. That's what you would ideally need, but it also means trades to free up payroll.
The two men looked at me with a smile. My little presentation had had its little effect apparently. We continued talking for almost three hours. I was exhausted by the end of the interview. On the way back, I called Masai Ujiri to keep him informed of my progress and to discuss the play-offs that were going well so far thanks to a monstrous Kawhi Leonard. It was important, he needed to know if I was going to coach the Raptors 905 or not for the next season, to get organized quickly.
After that, I also had to keep my best friend informed. He was hoping I could join the NBA. He told me he had a preference for OKC, because he had more than once hallucinated the fervor of the fans, even though in his eyes the biggest challenge was Cleveland and he knew that I was capable of getting the franchise back on track. He, for his part, talked to me about crazy things! Rumors were circulating that with the Knicks not being first pick in the draft, the chances of seeing Durant go down the drain. Apparently there were rumors of Durant and Kyrie possibly going to the Nets. Personally, since Durant wasn't going to play all season and had a $37 million player option, I could see him staying with the Warriors until he gets better and leaves in 2020. We talked like that for a few minutes because his job was waiting for him.
A few days after my appointments, while I was at the restaurant with Matthew, my phone started ringing. It was an unknown number calling me.
- Mr. Price! I'd like to see you again to discuss taking over as head coach and what we need to do this summer for the franchise.
I looked up at my best friend and a smile appeared on my face. He understood, my NBA adventure was about to begin.
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