No Steve Nash. No Grant Hill. No problem says guard/forward Jared Dudley.
It was quite a busy off-season for the Phoenix Suns as the organization decided to turn the page and enter a new era without two of their most valued and cherish veterans. New faces like Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Wesley Johnson and Goran Dragic he started his career as a Sun) were brought in to inject more youth and athleticism to a team that was in disarray last season.
With a new roster comes familiarity, chemistry and camaraderie challenges, but Jared likes what ownership has done this past summer. "[We] conjured up some grand schemes and got some first round picks," stated Dudley revealing the organization to believe, "the time was now ... [to go] towards the youth movement "
"We made some trades and signed some free agents with a huge upside," added Dudley describing the amnesty waiver acquisition of Luis Scola as being "huge," explained of the 6' 9" former Houston Rockets power forward, "He brings us experience, plays both ends of the floor and makes everyone better. I'm excited."
One of the most dreaded words within a sports organization is 'rebuilding,' but if you ask the 2007 Charlotte Bobcats first round draft selection about that, he doesn't see it that way.
"You never want to have the mindset of thinking that you're rebuilding," offered Dudley preferring to factually identify the process as, "putting new pieces together." Not immune to the realities of the task and growing pains that typically accompany new , Dudley may harbor or briefly acknowledge some reservations as to the Suns ultimate effectiveness in 2012 - 2013 season, but they appear to take up no permanent residence in the guard's mindset, which he believes will see the Phoenix Suns, "squeak into the playoffs."
"Can you rebuild and reload at the same time and be competitive?" Dudley questioned quickly answering his own inquisitiveness with a resounding, "The odds are no, but we are here to try and prove everyone wrong."
When looking forward at the Suns upcoming schedule, Dudley knows that all 82 games will be a grind. Furthermore, when he talks about teams in the division and rivals, he makes no bones about his dislike for the Black Mamba led squad that resides in the LA Staples Center.
"I don't like the Lakers. I like Steve [Nash], but when you play the game, that is our rival," definitively states Dudley candidly adding, "The Spurs, the Celtics; You circle those games when the schedule comes out.
"As a kid growing up you want to play at [Madison Square Garden]. I love to play the Heat now," revealed the San Diego native explaining, "You get up a little more for the big games, the big teams and I won't deny that."
Phoenix is a young team that will be looking for guidance and a veteran presence especailly with the losses of Nash and Hill. Being thrust into the leadership role is something that Dudley looks forward to and relishes.
Of being that leader, "It has always been in my personality," stated Dudley considering his "great IQ for the game," to be a blessing from God. "The difference this year is being a little more vocal," estimates Dudley explaining of his former teammates, "When Steve [Nash] and Grant [Hill] were here, they were silent leaders, in a sense that, they go about their business; they're positive and when something went wrong, they said something."
Considering himself "naturally sociable [and] loud," Dudley anticipates, "it will be easy for [himself] to go out and talk to these players, categorizing himself to be, "the type of guy that will call people out and basically if you do something wrong, I will let them know."
Not necessarily certain that it will "translate into ten more wins," Dudley of his leadership style and accountability stresses, "You have to teach some of these young guys how to be professionals and how to go about your business on and off the court," manifesting growth and daily improvement. All of which the former Boston College product hopes over time, "translates into more wins and chemistry building."
Here are a few excerpts from the complete audio interview.
Fast Life: What were some of things that you did to prepare yourself for the rigors of a long upcoming NBA season?
Dudley: After a long season,you have to get your body some rest. After that it's like a marathon ....You sprint at first and work your way to where you want to be. I did alot of yoga to get my body more flexible; did a lot of different weight training. Basketball wise, I worked on my ball handling and my shooting off the dribble. Also, worked on my postup moves so when I get the ball down low (in the box) I can score off the smaller guards when they switch off of picks. For me it's another year where I grow more confident and look to improve.
Fast Life: Now in your heart when you found out that Steve Nash was going to the Lakers,a division rival, a hated rival,did you get a bit sick to your stomach?
Dudley: I was happy for him because I'm not looking at it as a fan. As a fan,I would be sick to my stomach,I'd be mad. Now he has a chance to win a championship and the Lakers were that one piece away. I think he deserves to be there [LA] with all of the hard work he has put in throughout his career.
Fast Life: Are there any players in the NBA right now that you can't stand or get under your skin?
Dudley: It used to be [Andres] Nocioni. Sometimes with the Europeans and how they play,they get in your face. Not dirty but giving you elbows,trying to be slick with the refs. Reggie Evans is a player that I dislike playing against because he tries to grab you, mess with you ... borderline dirty