Lakers exit interviews: Day 1 highlights

April, 29, 2013
4/29/13
7:28
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The light bulbs on the scoreboard showing the Los Angeles Lakers' 103-82 season-ending loss to the San Antonio Spurs had barely cooled down before they got together one last time to sort through the rubble of their disappointing 2012-13 campaign before saying goodbye for the summer.

The Lakers conducted exit interviews for nine of their 15 players on Monday, with the rest to come on Tuesday.

Here's a recap of what each player had to say to the media, in chronological order, after meeting with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Monday.

CHRIS DUHON
Synopsis: Duhon finished with 11 points and seven assists, playing a whopping (and game-high) 43 minutes in Game 4 against San Antonio because of how depleted the Lakers' roster was after not receiving consistent playing time since January.

Lakers future: Duhon is set to make $3.9 million next season if L.A. keeps him around. The more likely scenario is the Lakers buy him out for the $1.5 million that's partially guaranteed in his contract and go their separate ways. "We’re going to talk," Duhon said. "I’ll be here all summer. I’ll be engaged. I have until June 30 for them to pick up my option. We talked about it, and that’s what it is. It’s talk. I’ll be here, we’ll be in contact and whatever decision they make, we’re going to make that decision and go from there."

On Dwight Howard: "I think he’s learned from Orlando, like I’ve always told him, ‘Do what’s best for you.’ Do what’s best for you and your family, whatever makes you happy and keep that to yourself. He’s always been a people-pleaser, always trying to go out into the media and get the media on his side, [but] for him, it’s about him and his family. What makes Dwight happy, that’s what he needs to do. Whatever makes Dwight happy. … He can be happy here in L.A. Why not? This is a great city, a great town. Obviously, it’s an organization with a great tradition and pride, and he should be one of those guys that eventually will get a statue here."

Best quote: On why the Lakers had trouble establishing an identity -- "Injuries, two coaches in one year, not a training camp, injuries, injuries again, another injury. … I mean, I think probably every member on this team has been injured and missed a game this year. I've never experienced that in my nine years in this league. I think we had five guys have major surgeries. This has been a wacky year."

METTA WORLD PEACE
Synopsis: World Peace limped into the practice facility after missing the second half of Game 3 and all of Game 4 after getting a cyst in his left leg drained. He was generally in good spirits, even wearing a Cookie Monster T-Shirt in an ode to a bizarre off-court incident that happened back in February.

Lakers future: World Peace has a player option for $7.7 million. If he exercises it, he could become an easy target for the Lakers' amnesty clause. "You never know, anything could happen," World Peace said. He added he "definitely" wants to be a Laker in 2013-14. "I'm very competitive, so when you lose with a team, you want to win with that team," he said. "The only thing on my mind is winning, and winning here."

On Dwight Howard: "It took me a bit to get used to his personality, but once I was around him a lot -- we sat together on the plane -– once I got the chance to know him a little bit, it was an easy adjustment. He played hard. His personality was just different than everybody was used to.

"He’s just different. He’s always happy for the most part. In games, he’s really serious; not all the time, sometimes. But when it’s like crunch time, he’s very serious. Pregame, the locker room is very at ease. So you got to get used to a franchise player like that."

Injury outlook: World Peace returned to the lineup just 12 days after left knee surgery, but still needs the summer to get back to 100 percent. "As of right now, I'll just take six weeks and heal up," World Peace said, citing the original time frame of play he was expected to miss.

Best quote: On Washington Wizards center Jason Collins' decision to announce that he is gay -- "You should be free to act and do what you want to do as long as it's not violent, no matter what it is. I came here in a Cookie Monster shirt because I wanted to. And I was going to wear the pants, but I thought you guys were going to judge me. And I was going to wear the hat too, but I figured you guys were going to judge me and I didn't want Mitch to judge me. So that's why I didn't wear the hat and the pants, but I should have wore it. You should be free to do and act how you want to act.

"When you can feel comfortable with yourself, not only does it make you a better person, it's unnecessary stress. As we all know, if you're holding things in it can create unnecessary stress to your heart, to your mind and when you can release it and talk about it, you feel better. That's how it should be with anything. Not just coming out if you're gay or if you have a mental issue, or whatever other issue or stigma you have out there, you feel better."

STEVE NASH
Synopsis: The season was a nightmare for Nash, bookended by a broken leg and a bothersome hip and hamstring, but he still appreciated the Lakers life after being on the other side for so long as a rival. "It was an amazing experience to play for this franchise and for this fan base," Nash said. "I think that's the one thing that burns me right now, that it didn't go the way I envisioned. I really wanted to have a huge impact on the team and really make this an incredible year and experience for the fans, players and everybody involved. So, great experience for me, I'm really thrilled to be a part of the franchise and just hope that next year we can repay everybody for their loyalty and their enthusiasm."

Lakers future: Nash has two years and $19 million remaining on his contract with the Lakers. He's set to play seasons Nos. 18 and 19 of his career in L.A.

Injury outlook: Nash missed the final two games of the playoffs with a right hip injury and nerve damage in his right hamstring, which required four epidural injections and a cortisone shot in the last two weeks. But the 39-year-old is already on the mend. "I'm not going to take any time off," Nash said. "I'm going to start rehabbing right away and try to get right." Nash estimated it would take a month to get back to 100 percent and added, "I don't have any concern and I haven't gotten wind from anyone on the medical staff that there's concern for long-term issues or for next season to be in jeopardy. But I still have a little bit of work to do to get right."

Best quote: On the team camaraderie, or lack thereof -- "In the big picture, I think relationships were formed, relationships were kept and developed that were really positive. I think that's the only reason we didn't sputter out of control and find ourselves out of the playoffs."

More to come. For more on the day, read this story featuring World Peace and Nash's thoughts on Howard.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 4.9 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.3
AssistsK. Bryant 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2