The new Great Britain men’s coach, Joe Prunty, has admitted that getting to grips with international basketball for the first time “will be a learning curve, for sure”. He’s also confirmed that he is continuing the until now fruitless pursuit of Ben Gordon.
When asked by MVP whether he was daunted at the prospect of coaching a national team, Prunty (who has worked for the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers) said: “Not at all. I mean it will be a learning curve, for sure, just in terms of being part of this and coaching the team…but I’ve been tremendously blessed to have been around numerous international coaches and players. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki.
“From a coaching stand point, [I have] worked with people like Del Harris, Nate McMillan, Brett Brown. And Chris Finch is obviously somebody that is a valued speaker, so there are numerous people that I have either worked with or spoken with that can help me with that.”
Prunty said he is involved in conversations with Luol Deng about this summer’s schedule – but gave no hints that the Chicago Bulls All-Star would be suiting up for EuroBasket.
“There’s nothing you can’t say about how great he has been not only for GB basketball but for basketball in general,” he said. “[But] exactly how his situation will play out [is yet to be] determined.”
One player Prunty certainly is chasing is Charlotte Bobcats guard Ben Gordon. But does he really think he can finally get the London-born baller to lace them up for GB, especially considering that not even the draw of the Olympics worked before?
“If one year doesn’t work for a particular reason, I don’t think you can totally disregard it and say ‘OK, we’ll not go down that avenue’,” he says.
“You don’t know what the situations are with each guy each year, so reviewing it is always well worth it just to see if there’s an opportunity to make the team the best it possibly can be. This year may be a different opportunity for him, the timing might be better.”
He added: “We’re in constant contact as much as possible with all the players that we’re trying to get.
“I don’t want to focus specifically on Ben but he’s definitely somebody we’d like to have involved in the programme.
“Each year you’re trying to build your team which is going to revolve around several situations; what they’ve done in the past usually makes an impact but you have to ask, are they healthy, what’s their time commitment, what’s their contract situation?
“All those things matter and Ben will be considered with that along with all the others.
“You’re always looking to establish the best team available. Just because one year didn’t work for whatever reason I don’t think you can disregard it and say you’re not going to go down that avenue.
“I can’t tell you exactly what people’s responses will be to that but it’s important to note that a team can’t revolve around discussion of one or two players, this will be a team representing Great Britain.”
For more of this interview, make sure you check out MVP Issue 13 – out late July.
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