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September 30, 2019

Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Q. Billy, you thought you added one superstar; you've added two. Pressure sort of goes to you to figure out how to use these guys. What have you done and immediate thoughts about how you incorporate Carmelo?
BILLY DONOVAN: 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 offensively and defensively.

Obviously Carmelo is a great scorer and has done it for 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, different players, that have never played with each other. 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. Billy, you got talent. How much is going to be these guys understanding just evolving lead role guys. Is it as much a mentality deal as an X and O deal, how they have to work together?
BILLY DONOVAN: Again, I think that's the case on any team if you want to be successful. There are certain things I just consider the rules of basketball that you have to do to be a good basketball team on both ends of the floor.

And 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.

Again, we'll have to do it collectively as a group. Certainly Russell and Paul and Carmelo, there is a lot of excitement around them, and rightfully so. But Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Jeremy Grant, Raymond Felton. We got to be a team, and it's got to all of us collectively as a team.

I think that's where the focus is right now going forward.

Q. Sorry to turn it back to the trio, but do you have a hunch as to how Russ, Paul, and Carmelo can enhance one another's game?
BILLY DONOVAN: That's it right there. How do we as a team and as a as group of players make each other better? I think to expect Russell, Paul, and Carmelo or anybody else on our team, whether it be Patrick Patterson being new and Raymond Felton being new, they are going to hit the ground tomorrow running and it's just going to be this cohesive unit that's played together for five years that hasn't skipped a beat.

That's the challenging and exciting part, when you start with the building of a team. Once training camp starts those are the things we're going to have to work through and get better at. I think we've got a group of guys that are really good guys that are going to want to do that. I think they understand the things that have to do to be a good team.

So those areas we'll have to work through and get better at.

Q. Sam was in here saying you view Carmelo as a little underrated as a passer. Just speak to what you see as his strengths and where on the floor you think he may be best suited and what he may be able to bring to wherever he is?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think with a guy like Carmelo and certain players they are almost positionless players when it comes from an offensive standpoint because of their ability to do so many different things offensively.

I found it very interesting a couple years ago even seeing him a little bit with Team USA and how he played there in different situations he was is there and the way he played the game.

Carmelo, even the last two days playing against Knicks and watching film, he's really a smart player. He knows how to play. He has a good feel of how to play. I do think he sees the floor. He has very, very good vision. I think he put that on display with Team USA at points in time.

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

Q. You guys had to part with Ennis in order to get this deal done and Ennis was such a big part of the rebounding dominance you all have had for the past two or three years. Losing a? Guy like that and gaining a guy in Carmelo Anthony, does it force you to shift your identity as a team?
BILLY DONOVAN: Listen, I think the game has changed in a lot of different ways over the years. For me as a coach I think the hard part sometimes is being with Ennis 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 connection inside the team will be missed. Ennis is a great guy. Obviously loved being here.

To your point, he, in my opinion, is maybe the best offensive rebounder in the game. I think he'll be missed. As we look at our team now, utilizing different lineups across the frontline gives us some flexibility to do some different things. With the Carmelo 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'll have things that you believe in.

But also I think offensively you want to put guys in positions 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. Also, Kevin Durant made sine comments on Twitter talking about his time here. He said that he didn't like playing for you. He talked about not having teammates good enough to win a championship. Talked about the organization. Thoughts on that, and curious if there is any conversation between you and Kevin? He said 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 is really anything more to say.

But I felt like we had a good relationship when we were together.

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

Q. There has been a lot of reaction around the league to what Donald Trump had to say on Friday. Just wondered what Billy Donovan's reaction to that might have been.
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I think for us here, again, I didn't see all the stuff that happened. Obviously there was a lot going on last 24 hours here. But we're always going to support our players' right for free speech and things that they're pointing out. For me personally, I also have great respect for our country as well. Certainly during all difficult times with different challenges going on, as a person who 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 a whole 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 add Kevin and Russ there together, ended up? Staggering those two guys first and second unit. Now you have three guys somewhere between very good and excellent, first options on a team. What's the best way to stagger those three guys? Work two in the second unit?
BILLY DONOVAN: I've always said this before: When you do do that, there is going to be a level of sacrifice that goes into a person maybe doing different things, because when you stagger like that there is going to be someone getting rest, a lot of times twice per half.

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 is no question staggering those guys and putting different combinations, whether it be the two of them out there together or three of them or one of them, that's something that without question we'll have to look at and evaluate and figure out what's the best way to go in doing that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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