Report Card/Exit Interview: Sasha Vujacic
Report Card: I feel for Sasha. He's a nice kid. He works very hard. He really wants to help the Lakers. And I really want him to help the Lakers. I'm just not convinced he ever will. His progress over three years is pretty standstill at best. Yes, this season's 4.3 ppg represents (scarily) a career high, but it's in part because 39.7% from the field also represents (scarily) a career high for a guy known primarily as a shooter. In the meantime, his minutes dropped considerably, his play making skills are minimal and his defense is more about frantic effort, fouls and "the face" than really stopping anyone. As BK and I have often theorized, a big reason Sasha still has believers among the Nation has more to do with likable earnestness (especially when compared to a brooding Smush Parker) than any flashes he's shown. Honestly, I think Sasha's obvious desire to succeed is often his Achilles heel, prompting him to force the action (and often poor results) . Ironically, he might actually start playing better if he stopped giving an "eff." I've recommended everything from smoking to hypnosis as a means of relaxation. Whatever methodology, I can't imagine he's got more than one more season to figure it out in a Laker uni. Final Grade: D+
Sasha Vujacic's Exit Interview is below the jump.
Q: What was your meeting with the top guys about?
Sasha Vujacic: With the top guys? Oh, nothing. We talked about the season. We talked about season. What my plans are. Obviously, it was disappointing to lose twice in a row to the same team, but now we just have to have a good summer and do something different next season.
Q: What did they talk about with you about specifically working on?
SV: I didn't go the basket a lot, obviously. I was playing two-guard more (this year) and the point guard last year. Definitely, there were some things that didn't show up in the games that they know I can do. I just definitely have to put some more pounds on me and come ready for training camp.
Q: How would you evaluate your year?
SV: My year? It was a little bit different than last year. There were some ups and downs. I was very disappointed in the end to lose to the same team. From the individual point of view, I just think that I could do much, much better. That's why I'm looking forward to having a good summer, working a lot and coming around.
Q: Are you planning on playing for your national team this summer?
SV: I'm still thinking about it, because it's a different situation than last year. Last year, I had much more minutes (with the Lakers), so I didn't even think about playing. But this year, I would definitely consider that as an option and I'll make my decision soon.
Q: Is that just to get more playing time over the summer in a structured offense?
SV: I like to compete. I like to play. And I had a long talk with Ronny (Turiaf) as well about that. We're in the same group, so definitely, we will be there. It'll be a lot of fun when we beat them.
AK: In terms of the "downs" you mentioned during the season, not playing as much as you hoped, do you attribute it to just skills not being there enough, not being in the right place mentally?
SV: Honestly, it was frustrating. It was a different season than a year ago. I just think that I have so much more in my game that didn't show up. Probably not even 40% of my capabilities didn't show up and that's something that I just want to give out and show what I can do. That's all I think are the ups and downs?
Q: Why do you think what you're capable of didn't come out?
SV: Who knows why? Basketball is a very fun game, so you can't force yourself to come to the game. You have to let the game come to you. That's what I'm planning to do. Hopefully, it'll be a situation where the game comes to me and it's just going to be nice and fun.
AK: Along those lines of "letting the game come to you," do you feel like you sometimes look to either force the action or get anxious?
SV: No, I'm never anxious. Whenever I'm out there, I just love playing basketball. I like having fun and whenever I'm out there, I want to give my 110%. I'm kind of sad, because like I said before, it was different than last year. Coach didn't have as much confidence in me as last year, so it wasn't the way I expected. But anyway, like I said before, it's going to be a very tough summer for me. Very big decisions to make, and I just want to be as much I can be. Good as I can be.
Q: What do you think needs to happen for Phil to regain confidence in you?
SV: Just to have a great summer. Have a great summer, come to training camp and try to be the best. Just to be the best in training camp and that's my plan. When training camp opens in Hawaii, I want to be the best over there. I wanna show to everybody what I can do.
Q: What role would they like you play next season?
SV: We don't know that yet. Definitely, I see myself as a point guard. This year, I played much less point guard than a year ago. It's a different offense, the triangle. It's a two-guard offense, lead guard and the off-guard. For me, I see myself as a point guard or a combo guard who can play the two, but my preference is definitely the one.