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Orlando GM John Weisbrod Interview




/ May 27, 2004

The Orlando Magic won the 2004 NBA draft lottery, which means they get the first pick in the 2004 NBA draft. After the lottery, here's what Magic GM John Weisbrod had to say to the media:

Q: Who is it going to be?

Orlando GM John Weisbrod: “I have no idea, but we were obviously prepared or in the process of preparing to make the most of any of five scenarios. Obviously this is the best we could have hoped for, and certainly gives us as much leverage as we possibly need or want to dictate this draft a little bit. Certainly we needed some good fortune and I’m glad we got it tonight.”

Q: Are you considering anyone besides Emeka Okafor?

John Weisbrod: “We’ve considered players all through the first round. There are a lot of guys in the middle of the round that we like. Obviously, Okafor and Howard are the consensus picks in those top spots, but we’re going to have to examine all of our options. I imagine our phone will start ringing tomorrow, and we’re going to have to grind down all the information between now and then, and determine what our best position is in terms of making the pick, trading the pick, or any variation.”

Q: Do you look at the top spot as leverage?

John Weisbrod: “It is definitely leverage, that is the first thing that pops into your head. When you have a team that performed as poorly as ours, you need options in the off-season to make yourself better. This is about the draft but it is also about free-agency, it is also about trades, and you need as many options available to you as possible. Having the first pick in the draft opens options on all three of those fronts not just the draft front. That is what gives us so much to examine between now and the draft to figure out how to use this good fortune as wisely as possible, no pun intended.”

Q: Are you more inclined one way toward either the draft or to trade?

John Weisbrod: “I don’t have any inclination. We would have total comfort making the pick, that is for sure. But that is not to say we are predisposed in any direction, because we are not. That in my mind, to come in with a set plan before you know, is unwise, poor planning, unless you are in a LeBron James type of draft, and this draft is not that type.”

Q: Does this make any difference with Tracy McGrady?

John Weisbrod: “I don’t think it has any relevance. I have obviously had a lot of conversations with Arn Tellem over the last several weeks, and while I guess you can say that getting the first pick over the fifth pick is a good thing, nothing in our conversations has been about this process or the draft. I would consider this somewhat of a non-factor to the Tracy McGrady situation.”

Q: Have Tracy or Arn given you a list of teams that they would accept a trade to?

John Weisbrod: “I’m in conversation with Arn, and we have agreed that we are not going to discuss publicly the nature of the conversations or where they are going, or create any discussion about that. I’ll choose not to speak to those issues until they are concluded. I do expect that we are going to reach a resolution one way or another as I had hoped and anticipated at the end of the regular season, and we will bring this thing to some kind of closure before the ball goes in the air to start next season.”

Q: Do you know Tracy’s status for the Olympics?

John Weisbrod: “I have not had any conversation with him about the Olympics, at all. Despite the fact that Arn is becoming my best phone pal, the Olympics has not been one of the subjects that has been discussed.”

Q: Is this a boost in morale for the staff and the fans?

John Weisbrod: “Well I think that our internal group has a lot of morale anyway. Dave Twardzik, and Otis Smith, and Johnny Davis, we were prepared to make certain that we accomplish what we needed to accomplish this summer no matter how it went. So while it certainly is a lift for everybody, I think that group would have been enthused and encouraged and hungry regardless. But as far as our fan base, and external onlookers, and people that are looking for some reason for hope in the community, certainly it has to be a morale booster for those people, and we are fortunate that it worked out that way.”

Q: Would it be hard to buck the trend and choose somebody besides Howard or Okafor?

John Weisbrod: “You take the guy that you like, and you determine whether you need to use the pick you have to get him. There are plenty of guys in this draft that you like, if you decide that Devin Harris is the player you want, and I’m certainly not indicating that he is, but taking a name off the board, you figure out what it takes to get that player and leverage what you have as best as possible. I certainly will not, we will not as an organization, feel compelled to make a pick because it is a consensus pick, that is for sure. I think anyone that knows me knows that I am too stupid and stubborn for that.”

Q: Do you need a player that can help immediately or can take someone that can be a star down the road?

John Weisbrod: “That is going to be the hardest question. I think that I am going to enter the draft room with two lists. A list that is us trying to anticipate every player’s apex, where they are at the height of their career, whether that height comes in three years or five years from now, who is going to be the best player ultimately. Then you have another list that is scaled for time, and scaled for how long it takes to get there. As much as we like to say we have all the time in the world, we don’t. We expect to turn this thing around pretty immediately, and sometimes that can be tougher to do if you don’t take time into consideration.”

Q: Okafor and his agent say his back his healthy, is that how you understand it?

John Weisbrod: “We understand that only as you do, because obviously until Emeka and his representation see who has those first two picks, they are not marching him around to do medical examinations. Really, all the medical information on any player is speculative to this point, and it would be now we are in a position that we have an opportunity to do some of our own examination or get some more specific information.”

Q: How much of a concern are injuries?

John Weisbrod: “Injuries are certainly a concern. We have all too much past experience with injuries stopping the ship, but you don’t want to be short-sighted about it either. It is something that as much as I think about it, impossible to speculate until we are able to go in there and get some of our own information and get the opinion of our own doctors.”

Q: Are you saying that Okafor and Howard are the consensus top two picks?

John Weisbrod: “That is the sense that I get from all the other GM’s I speak to every day. I get the sense that the assumption is that those two guys are the guys. But I wouldn’t at all characterize that as our opinion, and I couldn’t say with certainty, but certainly I think that would be the case.”

Q: Do you have a feeling for or against high school players?

John Weisbrod: “I think it would depend on where you’re picking. I don’t think there is any high school player, 13 have made themselves eligible and eight or nine could be first-rounders, I don’t think any of them [can be excluded] from being a top-five pick. It is just a lot more calculation and trying to get an estimation. Howard is obviously a high-school guy that is on everyone’s lips, but J.R. Smith is a high-school kid that people are going to go 18[th], and might end up being the best player. That is the challenge when you’re drafting younger, you have a lot less information to go on, and it brings a little more prognostication into play.”

Q: Is there a standard that must be met before you trade?

John Weisbrod: “Yeah, I suppose there would be, but I don’t know I could say what that standard would be at this point. Most of these circumstances the market will dictate, and we’ll see what the market is, and then it all comes down to the context of our team. Looking at those guys, ten guys we have under contract next year and what we’re looking to do with that. I guess where you set the bar for what needs to happen will depend on both the market, what offers are made, and how we size up what we already got.”

Q: It was just reported that McGrady is dropping out of the Olympics:

John Weisbrod: “I guess that is not a big surprise, but like I said I don’t have any particular knowledge of his feelings about it, I have not any direct interaction with him.”

Q: With having two second-round picks, do you have to work out everyone besides the top prospects?

John Weisbrod: “It’s hard. One of the difficulties of getting the first pick is that is tough to get middle-round guys to work out for you because they think it is a waste of their time. That is something we are going to have to deal with. Having two picks that high in the second round is great leverage for us also because the deeper the draft, and even though this draft might not be as top-heavy as last year’s, it is deeper draft than last year’s draft and that pushes guys to the second round. 13 high school guys in the mix. The 30th pick is a far better pick than 28, 29, or 27. So we look to make just as much use of that leverage as the golden number one pick.”

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