Jared Dudley likes where he’s at, as he told Adrian Wojnarowski Wednesday. Not just Brooklyn, but also in his role as mentor. But more than that, Dudley likes his other role, the wise old head of the NBA.
It might be surprising to some that Woj chose to spend time with a 33-year-old journeyman forward. But Woj, as usual, knew what he’s doing. Dudley dropped a lot of NBA knowledge, starting with his analysis of how the NBA is changing.
“I love talking about this,” said Dudley before launching into a discussion of how different teams have to choose different routes to winning it all.
Noting that “there are two ways you win in this league: pairing stars with other stars or you have to draft like OKC did and get Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden or Stef Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson.”
The former is a lot easier if you’re in a big market, he noted, and not a lot of teams have scouts who can find so many superstars in successive drafts.
“I understand the just-gut-it, be-bad, just-get-the-top-draft-picks, but lets look at it. The ultimate goal is to win a championship, you got to get the best players. The best players are not going to the cities they don’t want to live in. So it’s very tough. I love Milwaukee, I played there. I’d love to go back, if possible, maybe later in my career —you never know how stuff works out, but LeBron James is not going to Milwaukee. Kyrie Irving is not going to Milwaukee. “
They will, he said, go the city he’s coming from and the city where he’s at.
“So the easier thing is pairing. Players WILL play in Phoenix. Players WILL play here in Brooklyn because it’s a good market, it’s a good place to live. You get exposure,” he noted.
That said, Dudley said he expects next summer to be a bonanza for big market teams.
“Now in the 2019 market, with Brooklyn available, Knicks, Lakers, Philly, these major markets. I’m almost certain we’re going to see three or four stars move this next coming summer,” said Dudley, added that he has talked to more than 20 free agents this summer.
Market, he said, is only one issue. Players are now more about amenities, how they are treated.
“We want to know practice schedules, how they do with recovery, flying, So word gets out, who does this,” he told Woj, adding that the coach is as big an determinant as any in free agency.
“Around the league there is no more player friendly coach than Mike D’Antoni, how he does his practice schedule, how he does free lancing. ... Player talks about that. Players brag. When I played for Doc Rivers, he was phenomenal. We might have a week off between games. He’d tell us go on vacation, meet us at the plane. When it comes to front offices, players know who they are, the assistants and what their reputation is.”
As he noted in his discussion with beat writers on Wednesday, he puts Kenny Atkinson at that level as well, explaining without hesitation, how playing for Kenny Atkinson and the coaching staff is what he’s most excited about along with the system and blue-collar identity they’ve built.
Dudley said he’s committed to Brooklyn even if he is on an expiring deal. For example, he told Woj, he’s enrolling his children in schools here, taking them out of school in his hometown of San Diego.
“I’ll put them in school [in Brooklyn],” he volunteered. “My family goes with me wherever I go. I’ve never been traded at the trade deadline, but I would probably leave them in the city they’re at. That’s why anytime you get traded you make sure your family is alright, schools and situations.
“I’ve been blessed, my mom and mother-in-law come out and watch, so every time I’ve been traded in the summertime, I’m here now doing this with you, I’ve been here a couple days looking for places. My intentions are to be here all year and you never know what happens with this business, but some people keep their families away, I’m more of a family guy where I want them around.
“I have a son and two daughters, I want them to experience different cultures – D.C. to Milwaukee to L.A. to New York. I’m hoping by time they’re 16-17 they’re more cultured and know a little bit more about the world than I did at that age.”
Dudley also said he expects to play more than he has the last two years, when he’s had “50 to 60 DNP’s.” Now, he believes he has found a “situation where I can play.”
Moreover, he noted that he will still play the mentoring role he played with the Suns. “It’s to teach young guys to be a pro ... on the bus, on the plane during a four-game losing streak.”
He also understands his mortality as a player and that’s one reason why he didn’t want a buyout from the Nets or the Suns. Getting a new job would have been tough.
“If you don’t play in the league, even if you’re making $10 million, you can be out of the league,” hinting several times he thinks he has a few years left. But he noted that he and other veterans could have what’s left of their careers jeopardized by the NBA’s decision to permit teams to draft high school players, starting as early as 2021.
“High school players are going to push older players out of the league,” he told Woj.