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September 25, 2017

Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Q. You added one superstar, now you've added two. The pressure sort of goes to you to figure out how to use these guys. What have you done and what are your immediate thoughts about how you incorporate Carmelo?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, you know, I still think that with this happening so close to the first day of training camp, you still have to do things as a team to be successful on both ends of the floor, both offensively and defensively. Obviously Carmelo is a great scorer. He's done it for a really, really long period of time. I had a chance to spend some time with him yesterday. Really enjoyed being around him.

But for us, it's going to be that process of coming together as a team because we obviously have a lot of new players, a lot of different players that have never played with each other, and that process beginning tomorrow to understand that this will be a journey that we'll have to go on together as a group to try to continually improve and get better and become hopefully as close as we possibly can to our ability.

Q. How much is it going to be these guys understanding -- is it as much of a mentality thing as it is Xs and Os?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, again, I think that's the case on any team if you want to be successful. Like there are certain things that -- just consider the rules of basketball that you have to do, to be a good basketball team on both ends of the floor. These guys have been in the league for a long period of time. They've had a lot of individual success. They've had team success in different situations. So again, I think for me, like the opportunity that we have is the opportunity that we get a chance to go to work every day and improve, get better, and try to figure out how we can be the best version of ourselves.

You know, and again, we'll have to do it collectively as a group. I mean, certainly Russell and Paul and Carmelo, there's a lot of excitement around them, and rightfully so. But Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Jerami Grant, Raymond Felton, we've got to be a team, and it's got to be all of us collectively as a team, and I think that's where the focus is right now going forward.

Q. Sorry to turn back to the trio, but do you have a hunch even as to how Russ, Carmelo and Paul can enhance one another's games?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think that's it right now, how do we as a team and as a group of players make each other better, and I think to expect Russell, Paul and Carmelo or anybody else on our team, whether it be Patrick Patterson being new or Raymond Felton being new, that they're going to hit the ground running and they're just going to be this cohesive unit that's played together for five years that just hasn't skipped a beat. That's the challenging part, that's the exciting part when you start with the building of a team, once training camp starts, is that those are things we're going to have to work through and get better at. I think we have got a group of guys that are really good guys that are going to want to do that. I think they understand the things you have to do to be a good team. Those are areas that we'll have to work through and get better at.

Q. Sam was in here saying that you kind of view Carmelo as a little underrated as a passer. Speak to what you see as his strengths, where on the floor you might be best suited. Is he a power forward and what might he bring to wherever he is?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I think a guy like Carmelo and certain players, they're almost positionless players when it comes to an offensive standpoint because of their ability to do so many different things offensively. You know, I found it very interesting a couple years ago, we've been seeing him a little bit with Team USA and how he played there and different situations he was in there and how he played the game. Carmelo, even the last two years playing against the Knicks, watching film, he's really a smart player. He knows how to play. I think he's got a good feel of how to play. I do think he sees the floor. I do think he has very, very good vision. And I think he put that on display with Team USA at points in time.

I do think he is -- because of his ability to score, I think there's sometimes that players like that, they may miss out on seeing a lot of other things that they're capable of doing.

Q. You had to part with Enes Kanter over this deal, and he was a big part of the rebounding game you've had the last two or three years. Does losing a guy like that force you to kind of shift your identity as a team?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, listen, I think the game has changed in a lot of different ways over the years. You know, for me as a coach, I think the hard part sometimes is being with Enes for two years and just the kind of person he is and the impact that he had on our team, his sense of humor, his, I think, connection inside the team will be missed. Enes was a great guy, he was a great teammate. He obviously loved being here, and to your point, he in my opinion is maybe the best offensive rebounder in the game. You know, I think he'll be missed.

But as we, I think, look at our team now, utilizing different lineups across the front line gives us some flexibility maybe to do some different things. With Carmelo's situation just happening the other day, I think as a coach you're always trying to figure out ways to maximize the group. I think defensively you can have systems and schemes. Offensively you're going to have things that you believe in. But also I think offensively you want to put guys in position systematically that is good for them where they're able to take advantage of their strengths and talents. For us defensively we're going to have to collectively rebound if we are small at times, and at times I think we'll have to maybe offensive rebound in some different ways.

Q. Kevin Durant made some comments on Twitter talking about his time here, and he said that he didn't like playing for you, talked about not having teammates, not winning a championship while he was with the organization. I want to get your thoughts on that and if there was any conversation between you and Kevin. You said that he reached out to you.
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I'll just say this. We did communicate. I enjoyed my time with Kevin, and I felt like Kevin and I had a very, very good relationship. Outside of that, I don't think there's really anything more to say, but I felt like we had a good relationship when we were together.

Q. How important is it to get Carmelo Anthony at this point of his career after he's accomplished so much, and what does his career do for your locker room?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think he's huge because he has an enormous amount of respect around the league as a player and also as a person. And I think that only enhances and helps your locker room having a guy like that.

Q. There's been a lot of reaction around the league to what Donald Trump had to say, condemnation of the administration. I wonder what Billy Donovan's reaction to that is.
BILLY DONOVAN: I think for us here, again, I didn't see all the stuff that happened. Obviously there was a lot going on the last 24 hours here, but we're always going to support our players' right for free speech and things that they're pointing out, and for me personally, I also have great respect for our country, as well. It's certainly during some difficult times with different challenges going on, as a person that has coached for a long period of time and been around a lot of different environments and situations, there are a lot of struggles out there, and there are a lot of people fighting a lot of difficulties. It's unfortunate because I would like to see our country come closer together rather than being pulled further apart.

Q. When you had Kevin and Russ there together, you would stagger those two guys first and second unit. Now you have three guys who are somewhere between very good and excellent first-unit options on a team. What's the best way to do that?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I've always said this before: When you do do that, there's going to be a level of sacrifice that goes into a person maybe doing different things because when you stagger like that, there's going to be someone getting rest, a lot of times twice per half, which could be a little bit different. My main focus for those guys is first making sure they're comfortable and feel like they're able to get a good rhythm while they're in there playing. There's no question staggering those guys and putting different combinations, whether it be the two of them out there together or the three of them or one of them, that's something that without question that we'll have to look at and evaluate and figure out what's the best way to go and do that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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