Interview: McMillan on Webster’s challenge
Transcript of an interview with Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan following Wednesday’s practice at the team’s workout facility in Tualatin, Ore.
McMillan on how Blazers small forward Martell Webster has handled the transition from a starting to reserve role:
He’s handled it professionally. And it is a tough situation. … I think he is trying to be a team player. I think he’s trying to allow the coaches to coach, and normally you don’t get that out of players. A lot of times — and not to say he’s not down and he’s totally accepting that. I think he’s trying to be professional about it and keep himself ready to play when his name is called, and that’s very difficult to do, when you’ve gone from two years ago being a starter, to sitting out, to coming back and being a starter, and now, coming off the bench, and then your minutes are cut. (Nicolas Batum) was put in that spot because, basically, that was his spot. And pretty much, he got the spot because of Martell and an injury — almost like by default. And then Nic gets the spot from Martell, because Martell is out. And now, when the two of them are healthy, Nic started to play well and do some good things, and I like what he brings to the court with that starting unit. His ability to shoot the ball has helped him, allowed me to put him in that role.
On the challenge Webster is facing:
It’s going to be a mental challenge. It’s not physical ability. It’s mental.
On Webster’s ability to overcome the challenge being a key component for the Blazers’ late-season success:
I think that’s the key for everybody. It’s not just those guys. But (Juwan) Howard and the guys who are starting, mentally being comfortable with — Brandon (Roy), (Andre) Miller allowing those guys to play. The rotation changes for them, too. Even though they’re getting minutes, they want more. Some of those guys could say, ‘Well, hell. I’m getting tight over here. It’s getting stiff, sitting 15 minutes.’ Because if you sit a guy for five to seven minutes, that’s really about 20 minutes. Some guys, ‘I’m getting stiff. I was stiff when I came back. I couldn’t get in the flow.’ So, it’s not just the bench, it’s the first unit. It’s a mental thing. And being able to keep yourself mentally ready and not allowing yourself to be close-minded about how we are going to play. The thing about it was, I’m talking to LaMarcus (Aldridge) about (the University of) Texas (men’s basketball team). And I was like, ‘Where are they?’ And he said, ‘They might not even make it.’ I was like, ‘They were No. 1 earlier.’ He’s like, ‘They’ve got too many guys that want to play; want to go pro.’ … Everybody wants to play. And when you have as much depth as we have, that’s going to be a challenge right off the bat.