OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 11, 2017
SAM PRESTI: First, just want to welcome everybody, really exciting day for us as an organization, as well as for the community and Thunder fans everywhere. Want to start by just welcoming Patrick's family.
Raymond and Patrick Patterson are two players that we've long admired in the NBA. They exhibit the qualities of players we've traditionally tried to target and bring into the organization. Both highly professional, serious players. Guys that had reputations as great teammates, great competitors, and I believe players that understand what goes into winning and high-performing teams.
Just in the short time that we've been able to spend together and the conversations we've had, it's just kind of even furthered my confidence that these are two guys that are going to make us a better team, but also continue to help us build our environment and continue to build the legacy of the organization just based on who they are as people and competitors.
So really excited. Couldn't be happier to welcome these two guys into the organization and into the city. Turn it over to Billy for a few comments as well.
BILLY DONOVAN: Just to echo some of Sam's comments, I'm very excited about Patrick and about Raymond. Patrick and I go back a long way. Coaching at Marshall in West Virginia, Patrick being from Huntington, West Virginia, got a chance while recruiting Patrick to develop a very close relationship with he and his family. So we've known each other for quite a long time. Just a great guy, a great family.
Really feel like he'll bring, I think, a dimension to our team on both ends of the floor. Tough defender, physical, a winner, a guy that can shoot the ball from behind the three-point line, very, very good passer. So I'm really excited about kind of being reacquainted with Patrick again.
Raymond, I've always admired him as a player, even back at North Carolina when they won a National Championship. Two years ago in the Playoffs he really, I thought, had an exceptional series against us. Played very, very well. A guy with a wealth of experience, high basketball IQ, knows how to play.
I couldn't be more excited about having both of these guys on the roster next year and working with them. Certainly two veteran guys that have got a wealth of experience.
Q. Raymond, I just wanted to get an idea of how this deal came about for you and what was appealing about coming to Oklahoma City at this juncture of your career being a 12-year veteran?
RAYMOND FELTON: Being a 12-year guy, you just want to put yourself in a situation where you're going to win. Put yourself in a situation where you've got a chance to try to play for something special, and that's the to win a ring. That's always been a goal of mine, always been a dream of mine.
So this organization has been one of the top for the last, you know, ten years since I can remember. Got a great team. I like some of the things that they were doing this summer, some of the pieces that they were signing, some of the guys that they traded for. So to come here, just, I think we have a great chance to do something special.
So looking at this organization, this city, how they support this team and how loud it is in here, so I can only imagine how it's going to be to be on the right side of the court. So I look forward to it.
Q. Patrick, you obviously know a lot about Oklahoma City Thunder having played against them. How do you see your game fitting in with the pieces that are here and that are coming?
PATRICK PATTERSON: Yeah, just pretty much spacing the floor. Being a guy who can move the ball, distribute, pass, make the extra play, then when I have the opportunity to shoot, take advantage of that. Russ demands so much attention, same thing with PG. Two great guys on the offensive side of the ball. So just trying to do whatever I can to ease the pressure off them. Moving the ball when they do get trapped, just trying to distribute and find someone.
Also on the defensive side, this is such a great defensive team, and it's only going to get better. So just using my ability, my awareness, and my IQ to help out in those areas too.
Q. Patrick, what do you remember about that dynamic with Billy and getting to know him during the recruiting process?
PATRICK PATTERSON: Oh, man.
BILLY DONOVAN: Another one we lost.
PATRICK PATTERSON: It was fun. I just remember it almost every week him just randomly showing up at my high school, saying hello. Popping into classrooms, walking down hallways, all the students in the classroom constantly screaming and yelling whenever they see him at the high school games. Him coming to my house hanging out with me and my family.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was good times. It was a lot of fun. Something I cherish. It's very good, and cool to be reunited again.
Q. Sam, now that it looks like the moves are done, with the exception of Russell and his extension, can you just talk about getting this team built, getting this group together to become a contender again with the pieces and just what you guys have accomplished overall this summer?
SAM PRESTI: Well, first, I think obviously no team's ever finished. I think every team by virtue is always a work in progress. We're a work in progress. We obviously have to come into training camp and start from zero and build ourselves up, so that we're in the best position possible after 82 games.
But a lot of people have to play a part in that. I think we've been really fortunate to have really good players within our organization, and that helps other great players want to be a part of that. So I think you can never underestimate the contributions of everybody within the organization.
The other thing I'd add is obviously none of this is possible without support from our ownership. We have incredible ownership. Mr. Bennett's here today. Just the commitment that he's made to the team, to put us in position to have a chance to win a championship year in and year out. That is an unusual -- an unusual amount of support. And everyone that works for the Thunder understands how fortunate we are to have the ownership group that we do.
None of this is possible without their continued efforts and their vision, and understanding opportunity when it presents itself. That commitment is not just now, but it has been the case, and we're blessed for that.
I'm really excited, because I think these guys represent a continuation of the type of people that we've always valued. I think there is a certain expectation for us that we're always going to try to be the best version of ourselves, and I think these two players and people give us that opportunity.
But the work never stops. We're always looking for ways that we can make it better, not just on the floor but off the floor for players and their families as well. Again, that all comes back to the support we have from our ownership and also from our fans. From people that come to the arena, that support the team, especially in a place like Oklahoma City, it all matters. It all adds up. It makes it a place where players like Raymond and Patrick want to come and be a part of the movement. I think we all that work for the Thunder feel so grateful for all of those things.
Q. Billy, an identity of a team can change year to year based on personnel. How do you feel these two guys are going to impact the personality of the group that you'll have?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think first, these guys are veteran guys. They've played in a lot of games, in a lot of big games. I think them having a great, clear understanding of what goes into winning and the sacrifices and the understanding that goes into winning, I think that's very, very important. Last year our roster was the third youngest roster, certainly adding two veterans like Raymond and Patrick, that only helps the growth of our younger guys as well.
So I think that you look at what these guys have done and the roles that they've played and how long they've played in the league, it's hard to play in the NBA for the length of time these guys have played in the league, and they've done it at a high level, and they've done it very, very well, and they've done it very professionally.
I've been great admirers watching both guys play. I think they're going to be just tremendous to our culture, to the way we want to play, to our identity. I think they're going to bring great value.
Q. Both Raymond and Patrick, from an outsider's perspective, for the fans here, you guys have been in the league, played against Paul George, what can they expect from his game when you guys are on the court next year?
RAYMOND FELTON: I think PJ's a guy that's going to compete. He can create his own shot, make guys better. He plays on both ends of the court, and I this I that's something that this organization, that's part of their culture. We're not just about teams who can score. It's about teams who can get stops to win games. Honestly, that's what wins championships. You've got to be able to get stops. You've got to be able to play defense, and he's a guy who plays on both ends of the court. He's a guy that if you need to get a bucket, he can go get it for you.
PATRICK PATTERSON: Yeah, same thing. From what I've seen, he's one of the hardest workers in the league. And one thing that I admire the most about him is his vocal leadership. I know and we all see what he can do on the court as far as his game goes. But just seeing him talk, communicate. Whether it's going bad, whether it's going good, him being the vocal leader in the huddle out there on the court, just always communicating to his team mates. Whether they're down, whether they're up, no matter what the circumstances are, he's always talking, he's always active and always energetic, and I've always admired that about him.
Q. Patrick, Raymond, you guys have obviously been around the league a while. What were your impressions of the Thunder, of this organization, before you arrived? I know you've just been here like five minutes, so your impressions may not be too much beyond that, but what have you come to learn about this organization even since you've been here?
RAYMOND FELTON: I think for me, I think it's family oriented. Everybody is just so welcoming, and everybody's just, to me, I think, just honest. I've played for a lot of organizations and I've played for several teams, and just the honesty that I see in everybody's eyes, just talking to people. Because I'm big, and when I'm talking to you, I like looking in your face, looking in your eyes, so I can look and tell if somebody's BS'ing me or not.
But with this organization, I feel like everybody's genuine. Everybody's -- it's all about one thing. It's about winning and taking care of each other. So that's welcoming. That's a good feeling to have.
PATRICK PATTERSON: Yeah, same thing. Since I've been here just seeing how hungry everybody is to win and be successful. Just wanting to improve day-in and day-out, whether it's on the court or off the court. Being a true professional, which your family and friends and those you care about. But also with basketball too.
So just seeing how much everyone cares about each other. How, like Raymond just said, how everyone is really family oriented here?
Q. You were asked about Paul George earlier. Is there some sort of relief you're not going against Russell Westbrook anymore?
RAYMOND FELTON: Well, I think I can answer that one being a point guard in this league (laughing). That's one battle that you don't look forward to coming in here, playing against him. The he's one tough guy. One tough competitor. He brings it every night. He's going to give it his all. So I look forward to playing with a guy like that because I play the same way.
So it feels a big relief to be on the right side of that (laughing).
Q. How much of the moves that you made in this very aggressive off-season had to do with the fact that Russell Westbrook specifically wanted to see upgrades on this roster?
SAM PRESTI: I think if we needed some kind of nudge in that respect, then probably don't deserve to be doing what we're doing. Over the last eight or nine years we've been probably the most, if not at the top of the most active teams in the league. So I think we've kind of demonstrated over the course of time that we're pretty aggressive.
I'd like to think that with the bright minds that we have in our front office, the people that don't get enough credit, Mike Winger, Amanda Green, Wynn Sullivan, Jesse Gould, obviously Troy, Paul Rivers, and Will Dawkins and on down the list. We try to come up with every possible scenario we can think of to make the team better. And as I said before, a lot of it comes down to having the support of Clay and the ownership group to empower us to try to do the things that we can think of to try to put the best team on the floor.
Obviously, our goal is the same as Russell's or Pat's or Raymond's or anyone that's part of the Thunder. I think that we don't really wait for circumstances to dictate our action, and I think history kind of speaks to that.
Q. Raymond, just going back to Russell Westbrook, five years is a long time. I think back when you were with Denver you had made some comments going into the Playoffs saying that you hoped you played the Thunder. They do a lot of trash talking. What has the relationship been like between now and then between you and Russell Westbrook on and off the court?
RAYMOND FELTON: I think that was just a situation -- I think I was in Portland. I don't think it was Denver at the time. I think at the time you were just talking about two guys who were just strong competitors. Two guys who battled it out at the time. You know, I was young, you know. Not really understanding the press side of things and understanding that when you say certain stuff it's going to come back ten times more.
So not meaning it in a disrespectful or antagonizing kind of way, but it was just one of those things where I'm a competitor, and I was kind of heated about maybe out there playing against him or whatever it was. Just made some comments that probably shouldn't have.
But me and Russell got a great relationship. We've got a great deal of respect for each other. We're both competitors. We both bring it every night. Other than that, there is no problem between us. Not at all.
Q. Along those same lines, when you were with Dallas and had the series here, Mark Cuban came out with some comments and said Russell wasn't a super star. As a guy who had to go against Russell every night in that series, what were your thoughts about Mark saying that?
RAYMOND FELTON: I was mad at him (laughing). I was upset with him. Because I think the next night he came out and gave us like 35 or 37 points, something like that. Yeah, I was really upset with that comment.
I'm like, man, I'm the one who has to guard this, man. But like I said, Russ is one of the guys that I really like respect him, I respect his game. Because like I said, he brings it every night, and he brings it on both ends of the court. It's going to be fun to be playing along with him.
Q. Patrick, the Thunder only had so much money available for free agency. You apparently signed a contract below your market value. What led to that decision? Why did you decide to come here even though you could have gotten more money elsewhere?
PATRICK PATTERSON: The opportunity to win. The opportunity to compete for a championship and be with a team that's just as hungry as I am. To play along side all stars and super stars. To be reunited with Coach Donovan again, and just being in an overall environment that I can be happy, be myself, flourish, and have the utmost fun.
So that's what it all came down to, despite the money. People are taking less in order to win, and that's what my mindset was. Basically, come to a situation where I could be happy, win, and thrive.
Q. The direction that the league is heading going smaller, how do you see your defensive versatility meshing with the group that's already established here?
PATRICK PATTERSON: Being able to switch, moving my feet, allowing me to stay in front of smaller, quicker guards, being able to guard larger guys in the post. Whatever it may be, just using my overall defensive awareness and tactics to stay on the court for as long as possible. The team has so many weapons on the defensive side of the ball who can guard multiple positions, and I just want myself to be one of those guys when I stay on the court, and my teammates can rely on, and trust and believe in to get stops on that side of the ball.
Q. Raymond and Patrick, you guys bring a wealth of experience in the post season, and considering the Thunder were the younger team in the post season last year, is that something you guys are looking forward to bringing to this team, kind of a leadership in the locker room role?
RAYMOND FELTON: No question. Sometimes having youth is a good thing, but sometimes it can hurt in big games. It can hurt in big situations. Experience I think helps a whole lot. But I think the main thing that me and Patrick are going to bring to this team is just all out competitors, guys who just want to win. We just want to win. I can't speak for him, but I'm pretty sure he feels the same way. The biggest goal and the best feeling ever is to have a parade, and I've never experienced that. I experienced it on the college level but never here in the NBA. So I would definitely want to do that before I retire from this game.
Q. Raymond, whether it's ГЃlex Abrines, Enes Kanter, a lot of guys on the second unit that you'll be running with, how familiar are you with those guys, and what about their games do you like?
RAYMOND FELTON: I think all those guys bring a whole lot of different things to the game. I think what those guys need is somebody who can calm them down at times. Most of those guys that you just named are very young and don't really have a lot of experience, but have been in big games because of the teams they've been on.
So with Kanter, he's going to bring it every night. He plays hard, he rebounds. He's a force to be reckoned with. Abrines, I think, has the biggest up side of all of them because he can do it all. He can go off the dribble, he can shoot the ball very well. He's just an all-out good player.
And McDermott, I think he's just a young guy who needs some time, who needs to see the ball go in the basket a few times and just to get that confidence up to just play, because he was a great player in college. I think he can translate that here to the NBA. He's just got to have the right coach over there that's going to help him out, that's going to drill him. Have the right veterans around him that's going to give him that confidence to help his game and just be on him each and every night.
Q. It's well documented how the team struggled offensively with Russell off the court last season. What does Raymond bring in terms of guard play that's going to help the team when Russell's not on the court?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think one of the things that probably hasn't been spoken about that's maybe one of the unique things about Raymond is if you look at him last year with the Clippers, he's been on the floor where he's played the point, he's played the two, he's probably played the small forward spot. He's really been all over the place in the back court. And I think that speaks to his IQ of how he can actually impact the game.
So I have a lot of confidence based on his experience and him being a veteran that there really probably isn't any situation that he's not been into. He can play with the ball in his hands, off the ball, he can play with the small lineup, big lineup, he can play with young guys, older guys. It really doesn't make a difference.
When you watch him play, he's always trying to figure out ways to impact the game and impact winning. I think it speaks to the things that he's mentioned here today about how important winning is to him. You can see him do that, because if he sees something in the way that he can impact the game, he can do it shooting, penetrating, defending. He does it in a lot of different ways.
Q. With the changeover in the roster, you had changeover last year. You knew Oladipo would play for you, Sabonis was a rookie, but you're bringing in veterans now that are obviously going to play a big role on the team. How does that change going into the training camp this off-season compared to last year?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think anything, the winning part and these guys can speak to it as players, but the first thing, in order to have a really good team, you have to be a connected team. That requires building those relationships. Although these guys know a lot of the guys on our team, they haven't really played with them.
So I think developing those relationships, that cohesiveness, guys understanding roles, responsibilities, those kind of things. The sacrifice it takes for the benefit of the team becomes really, really critical.
There is no question, I think, because of their veteran experience and being on different teams and being in the playoffs, they have a clear understanding of what it takes. When you have somebody that has a clear understanding of what it takes, I think that's able to trickle down through your entire team. I think that's where these two guys as veterans can come in and understand the things that are necessary that we have to do day in and day out to be successful.
Q. Patrick, you and Raymond both have been in Houston, Toronto, L.A., New York, Dallas, then you your last few stops, major metropolises. Now you're coming to a small market in the NBA. What are the pros and cons of that, apart from the basketball side?
PATRICK PATTERSON: Well, I'm a country boy, I'm from the south, so this is basically home to me out here. So the pros are definitely me being comfortable out here. Although it's not a big city like you said like Toronto or Houston, there are still great fine points out here. There is still great opportunity, and there is still terrific people. So that's the only thing that really matters to me is being in an environment that I see people as my family. I see people as my friends and I just have fun, and that's basically what I see out here in Oklahoma.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports