John has a lot of upside still in his game. Compare his stats the first two years in the league against the stars guards and point guards in the league — Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Rondo — he compares favorably with them. So this is an important year for John. We wanted to get grown-ups around him and get mentors for those kids.
But our bet is, build a good team. In the out years, when Wall, Beal, Seraphin and Vesely are coming on the second contracts, we want to be able to keep them. By doing the deal for Okafor and Ariza, we traded unknown for known. The danger in free agency is, just because you want them doesn’t mean they want you.
Q. Along those lines, most fans of the team are wondering when would a Dwight Howard want to come here? What would be your answer to that?”
A. I think when we can establish we’re a perennial playoff team and when we have one or two young stars — real, legitimate stars. Everyone knows that John Wall is a burgeoning star, but he’s not playing tonight. He’s playing in the league that gets them ready. But I think most people in the league feel this year, next year that John has the opportunity, if he improves, to be a real star player.
I view it as my part of my mission as an owner to create an environment, fan base and player development system that allows him to be a star. I think it’s a two-way street. You can’t put the onus on just the player. You have to surround him with the right people, have the right coaches.”
Q. You mentioned on draft night that you would be disappointed with the lottery. Is that an edict for the general manager, coach and team to make the playoffs next year?
A. Being in the lottery means you’re not a very good team. I think if this team can stay healthy and we play a style that Randy loves to play — which is really aggressive, deep rotation, very up-paced because of John and we’re very defensive-oriented — I think we can be very competitive.
So a goal would be to make the playoffs and a goal is not to be in the lottery. [Chuckles.]
Q. But nobody loses their job if that happens, right? Or do they?
A. I won’t be happy with our plan if we’re back in the lottery . . . If we just miss making a playoff spot, no, the world is not going to end. If we’re picking third because we have the second-worst record, no, I will not be happy. I want to see demonstrable . . . we’ve turned over the roster, turned over the coaching staff. We’ve have good drafts. We took the second-highest-paid player in the league — I think one of the bloggers calculated he averaged $23,000 per minute — and replaced him with two players that will play big minutes who each averaged 10-15 points a game. We were getting 0 from Rashard.”