Bill Duffy Q + A
SLAM sits down with the NBA’s third biggest agent.
SLAM: Does having your eldest son playing basketball in high school change your perspective on your job?
BD: Other than the fact that I’m racing all over the globe to watch as many of his games as I can, no. For instance, I’m going to China on Saturday, flying back from Beijing on Tuesday, and landing two hours before his game starts. I’ll go straight from the airport to his game. I have a daughter playing club volleyball, and my middle boy plays baseball. And the younger boy and girl (Duffy has five children) both play soccer and baseball. It’s pretty much year-round.
I was just reading about Urban Meyer, who said that he’s never seen his daughters play volleyball live. I can’t imagine that. I refuse to not make their activities a priority.
SLAM: You have so many European clients, I’m wondering about the talent level there. If an NBA team was looking to quickly build its roster via European free agents (players over 23 don’t have to be drafted), would they find fresh talent that can play on an NBA roster?
BD: Not at the caliber they would expect. In my opinion there are probably 15 or 20 NBA players in Europe. There are other guys who could be on rosters, but as far as viable NBA players, I’d say no more than 15 or 20.
SLAM: Not including the American players who go there?
BD: Including the American guys who play there. There’s great talent, but there aren’t too many guys who can come over here and play like a Scola or a Bargnani. Those are some of the best players in the world.
SLAM: What is your favorite memory of Steve Nash?
BD: There’s not a favorite memory, it’s just the relationship. He’s one of my favorite people in the world, and one of my closest friend and confidantes. I don’t think more highly of anyone I’ve ever met in my life than Steve Nash.
SLAM: How do you influence what happens in February at the trade deadline for your NBA clients?
BD: I’d say that we’re behind about 75 percent of the activity that happens to our clients. The other 25 percent is something that we have no control over because the teams are going to do what they’re going to do. But a lot of the time we’ll encourage the move because we feel like the player needs to be in a better fit and sometimes we have a very active role.
SLAM: How does that work exactly? You communicate with the GM, the GM says, “If you can find something for your client, great,” and then you work with other GMs?
BD: If we get permission. We do that regularly. But we know everyone in the league so well that when we talk to teams there’s a trust factor in terms of confidentiality and in terms of what is in the best interests of both them and us. It has to be a win-win.
SLAM: When you’re arranging trades, you’re also moving other people’s clients…
BD: That happens. One time we did a deal with Marko Jaric, when he was traded from the Clippers to the Timberwolves and Sam Cassell was part of the trade. I think Sam got pretty upset because he saw that we had a prominent role in him leaving Minnesota. He didn’t want to leave, and it came out publicly that we were part of the deal.
SLAM: Are you able to derail a trade if your client doesn’t want to move to a given city?
BD: Yeah, we’ve done that. If a player is in the last year of his contract you can dissuade the other team from taking him by saying that he’s not going to resign with that club, so acquiring him is not a long-term opportunity. We’ve had some interactions like that. If he has multiple years on his contract, there are fewer options. You can dissuade the [acquiring] team and tell them that you don’t think it’s a good fit and he’s going to be a pain in the butt or whatever.
– David Lee used to be a slam dunk machine, but for the past couple of seasons he’s been throwing it down noticeably less often: “When I was a rookie and second year player, I tried to dunk everything,” Lee says. “But eventually seven-footers are going to get the timing of it. If you can’t mix it up, sooner or later you’re going to find a guy who is more athletic than you and he’s going to block the shot. I can still dunk when I need to, but the reason I’ve stayed among the league leaders in field goal percentage the past three or four years is because I’ve found ways to finish in every situation.”
– Lou’s book club: The latest recommended reading from Warriors renaissance man Lou Amundson is Cornflakes with John Lennon, a memoir by music journalist Robert Hilburn. Among those Hilburn spent time with were Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Elvis, and of course, the Beatles. “You get an inside look at who these musicians are, aside from the public perception,” Amundson says. “Musicians are like athletes in that there’s always a perception of who they are, but when you get a backstage pass, you get to see what they’re like with their families and the people in their circle.”
– Warriors rookie Ekpe Udoh is starting to live up to his billing as the No. 6 overall pick in the Draft. Still getting his legs back after being on the shelf with an early-season injury, Udoh’s length, shot-blocking ability and surprisingly soft hands have quickly made him an asset. But rookies are still rookies — Udoh returned to the locker room after another good showing against Philadelphia Monday night to receive Monta Ellis’ breakfast order for the next morning. Ellis, apparently, was in the mood to have hash browns waiting for him. Udoh diligently made sure he got the order right. “He’s a very positive guy with a great attitude,” says Dorrel Wright, the veteran assigned to watch over him.
– Warriors rookie PG Jeremy Lin is on his way to the Reno Bighorns, the team’s D-League affiliate.