In an interview with Izvestia, the Russian newspaper, Timofey Mozgov said Kenny Atkinson told him to expect big minutes ... and a fast game.
“I met with the coach and discussed some aspects of the upcoming season,” said the 7’1” center acquired from the Lakers. “From the conversation, it became clear that I would spend a lot of time on the court, and the team will play fast basketball.“
With the trades of Brook Lopez to the Lakers for Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell and Justin Hamilton to the Raptors for DeMarre Carroll, the Nets currently have two centers on their roster, Mozgov and rookie Jarrett Allen. Andrew Nicholson might also see some time at the 5.
Reiterating what he told reporters at the Nets press conference earlier in the month, Mozgov said that whatever Atkinson asks him to do, he’s ready. Atkinson was a development coach with the Knicks during Mozgov’s rookie season in New York.
Mozgov also talked about another aspect of his conversation with Atkinson. In the past, he said, NBA teams discouraged him from playing with Team Russia in FIBA tournaments. Not the Nets.
“Interestingly, for the first time in seven years, an NBA coach said to me: ‘Of course, play for the national team, it would be cool.’ It is unusual and a very pleasant surprise. Typically, players are advised not to play for the national team. They can not prohibit it.”
Russia will play in Eurobasket 2017 this August. The tournament will be played in several European venues, with championship games in Turkey.
Mozgov, the third Russian player in Mikhail Prokhorov’s stint as owner of the Nets, said the trade had nothing to do with the Nets wanting another of the owner’s countrymen on the roster.
“I do not think that this trade was made a Russian basketball player could play for a club owned by a Russian.” Andrei Kirllenko and Sergei Karasev previously played for Brooklyn.
The 30-year-old is now with his fifth team in seven seasons. So he’s used to trades, but he admits he was surprised.
“I calmly took the news. I was a bit surprised by this turn of events, but after seven seasons in the NBA, I have come to understand that virtually any player here can be traded at any time. For me, this is not the first trade, so that nothing terrible has happened.
“I'm going to play basketball in the strongest league in the world. I hope everything will be fine,” Mozgov said. “Of course, there were some problems with the family move.”
Mozgov has said he plans to live in Brooklyn and the say before the Nets press conference three weeks ago, he toured the Russian-speaking areas of the borough.
Finally, Mozgov said he and Lakers coach Luke Walton had lunch in New York shortly after the trade and said Walton told him the trade was not his idea.
“Immediately after the exchange I talked to Walton on the phone, and when I came back from New York, we had lunch together and communicated well,” Mozgov told the Izvestia reporter, Timur Ganeev. “I have a good relationship with him. He said that trading me was not his choice. The coach wanted to see me on the team again next year.”