One of the many perks for being a season ticket holder (STH for those in the know) is the chance to attend a a little something called "Chalk Talk." Basically it's a half hou session where fans get to listen to a short spiel about the team (a sort of state-of-the-union) followed by about 20 minutes of Q&A.
Before Saturday's win over the Heat, I had the pleasure of attending one of these get togethers. If I were a better note taker (or owned a digital voice recorder), I'd have published this in a question and answer format, but instead we'll tackle this bullet style as I try to make sense of the chicken-scratch nonsense I try to pass off as notes.
One fan asked about the transition between last in the Southwest division (the "worst" place to be, according to Bower) to Southwest champs. Bower said that the team was able to accomplish this leap by making responsible moves that were financially realistic -- avoiding bad contracts has been one of Bower's stronger suits.
He also said that the leap from contender to NBA champion is a much larger one than going from bottom feeder to contender.
When asked about how he weighs conduct and personality, Bower responded by saying "I have one rule: talent is never enough. It has to be there ... but it's not enough by itself."
Further discussion about the character of his players led (inevitably) to a discussion about Chris Paul, who Bower termed "unique." All of Paul's "superlatives go towards winning. They are not a means unto themselves."
Bower then quoted (paraphrased) Skip Prosser -- CP's college coach, with whom he was close friends -- saying "My point guard makes us win, and he doesn't have to score to do it."
The next question addressed Paul's minutes: whether or not we were saving Paul from overworking by playing him only 37 or so minutes a night. Bower's response was to be patient with the team as Byron figured out how to distribute playing time. He also mentioned that overworking Paul was not the biggest of concerns since Paul plays so much in the off season. He actually said that Paul probably played less by on the Olympic team than if he'd stayed home and done his normal workout routine.
(I actually found this discussion to be quite humorous since Paul normally averages around 38/game each season. People must have gotten used to him playing 40+ in the playoffs... or maybe they're just upset with Mike James leading the quest to squander our leads every night.)
The next question asked who is this years' biggest surprise (or at least who is progressing ahead of schedule). Bower chose Rasual as his surprise-so-far (who is averaging 7.7 points and 1.5 treys per contest up from last year's 4.9 and 1). He also thought Hilton was progressing well; though he clarified that he was referring more to Hilt's confidence than his athleticism.
Following that, someone asked about the logic behind trading the only pick we we had in the 08 draft for cash considerations. Bower said that the money was a huge reason we could afford to bring James Posey to town. He also said that statistical research concerning the 27th overall pick did not indicate a strong possibility of acquiring a true game changer (aka Posey).
Luckily, I got a hold of the rights to the last question.
"Do the you have guys have any plans to use the last roster spot to strengthen a particular position on the squad?"
I was baiting him to mention Mike James, but alas, Jeff Bower would not show his cards. Instead, he mentioned that the empty spot was being retained for flexibility, saying that the squad was focusing on finding its groove. Eventually, if the organization feels the need to strengthen any one position, they can use the spot for 2-1 or 3-2 trade, a pickup from the free agency or a pickup from the D-league.
And with that, our little visit was over. I didn't get too much information that I didn't already know, but you know what: I got to chat with our GM. And that was pretty sweet.