Q. On the job for a few month now, how
have you been preparing for the upcoming season?
"We have compiled a list of players available in the Draft as well as those who are available as restricted and unrestricted free agents. We are looking at what we can make work as far as player contracts under the current salary cap restrictions. We have a good team, but we are light on the front line. There are always players out there who may not necessarily be the best fit, but you have to look at them and what they bring to the table."
Ann Meyers is preparing for her first Draft at the controls for the Phoenix Mercury, and has a number of options from which to choose.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Q. As it fits in with your other responsibilities, how much time has
been spent preparing for the Draft?
"When the Connecticut Sun relocated from Orlando, Mike Thibault was pretty much doing everything. I have the utmost respect for Mike because I am not doing everything. That's why I admire him so much, for all that he was able to accomplish. He did everything from scouting to putting together the pieces of his roster. The advantage that I came in with is the great staff that was already in place. Paul (Westhead) and his staff have a year under their belts and having Bridget (Pettis) on board has been huge because she knows the talent and the college and international players. I have not traveled overseas as many others do because I've been trying to manage various aspects of the team as well. We had to coordinate our schedule, work out arena issues, plan training camp, hire additional staff, work on the preseason and get things like apartments and cars set up for players when they come in. So we have the number one pick, which you may think is easy, but it is not. There are so many other things that need to be dealt with, in addition to work I do for the Suns. I also spend a lot of time talking with the league to make sure that I'm not missing anything. I've also had tremendous support from every other general manager in the league, who has welcomed me aboard and offered to help me out. It just shows you the bond that people have around this league."
Q. With Kamila Vodichkova
out now with her pregnancy, that takes a weakness you had last year in the post
and makes it a full-blown hole in the middle now. Do you make that your primary
focus in the Draft?
"Not necessarily. You're always looking for the best players. Our center spot is wide open, yes. This is Kamila's last year under contract with the Mercury. We do not have her signed after this season and now she is out. So bringing in Olympia Scott is a huge score for us. She is a veteran who has great leadership, she won in Sacramento and has been around the league and learned at a great program in Stanford. This is a good fit for her. She liked to run and is defensive-minded. She can rebound and do a lot of the things that we need. We need more of that, though. So we are looking for more players like that either through the Draft or free agency. Or trades. That remains to be determined."
So will you take the best player no matter what with that first pick?
"We are not locked in yet because there are so many options. I am open to trading the pick or working out another deal. Perhaps we can solve the issues on our frontline through free agency. We do have a great nucleus in place with Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, Penny Taylor, Kelly Miller... There are a lot of options, and there are conversations that continue to take place. So nothing is settled."
We saw four rookie All-Stars last year. So hich prospects do you think can make
an immediate impact next year?
"This is not just for us and not just my opinion, but Lindsay Harding is probably the best player out there. I'm not sure what you've heard from other people, but she has shown that she is the top point guard and the top player. She does so much for Duke. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that she sat out two years ago. Even though she wasn't playing in games, she could still work out with teams. If you look at who came out last year, Augustus, Pondexter and Currie, they all could have come out the year before. So they had that year of experience, as does Lindsay. To me, because of that extra year, she is hungry. She understands what is expected out of her in leading the team."
Q. How important is the NCAA Tournament as far as last-minute
"I do not know. I haven't been here before."
How much have you missed not being courtside behind the microphone doing some
of these games?
"I love what I'm doing right now. For 28 years, I had a great opportunity to be a part of the game in that way, coaching, boradcasting and watching players and the game grow. I really enjoy what I'm doing now."
What have been some of your biggest challenges in this new role?
"I'd be lying if I said they're not still unfolding. We haven't played a game yet, so it is still just about the preparation. I was thrown into the mix here and it's really sink-or-swim. Like baseball, I came in knowing I was going to strike out a lot and make a lot of mistakes. Hopefully not too many, but I am learning as I go. The one thing I have enjoyed the most is the people I'm working with. I absolutely respect and love the people around me. I bet that's the case with a lot of our franchises in the WNBA, but it has been the highlight for me. They work their tails off. There is a great energy here and everyone is positive."
Does the fact that the Suns are winning make the atmopshere even more electric
"They have been great to watch, and the staffs really support each other. There is a great relationship between the Suns and Mercury players as well. Does it help that the Suns are winning? It helps because more people are seeing Mercury ticket messaging on the scoreboard at their games. That is definitely a plus. We hope the Mercury can catch some of that winning, too."
So will there be any last minute surprises? Anything good up those sleeves of
"If there are surprises, they will also be surprises to me. I don't have anything up my sleeve."