Q&A: Joe Ingles

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 with No comments
Courtesy of Angus Crawford

You had a couple of stints in the Summer League, an accomplished career in Europe, and of course joined the Clippers in training camp prior to this season. Did you ever wonder if you’d be given a legitimate shot at making an NBA roster? How frustrating was it to have your time in L.A. end in the way that it did? 
About the opportunity, you always want to keep everything open, and obviously I wanted to get here eventually and play. I’d had offers before—I had a guarantee from Memphis a couple of years ago, and turned it down. It was more about just getting over here at the right time [for me], and when I had had offers before, I didn’t think I was ready.

Even with the Warriors’ Summer League [team], whatever it was, seven years ago now? I got invited to training camp after that, and just didn’t think I was ready. It was more about the opportunity, and being ready, and for me, I thought it was the right time and the right year.

It was obviously disappointing to get waived by the Clippers that late. I think I was there for about five or six weeks in the end. So you go through the whole process, and then I think it was a day or two before that deadline [that I got waived]. It was pretty disappointing to go that far and be one of the last two, it was either me or the other guy, and he got it. It was disappointing, but 24 hours later I got the call from the Jazz, so it’s kind of worked out perfectly. 
I don’t know if you have any room in your life for a bit of schadenfreude, but with all of the moves that the Clippers have made to fill that wing spot since your departure, do you feel vindicated in any way by the success that you’ve had in a starting role in Utah? Is it a point of pride that you’ve outlasted a few names that were above you on the depth chart in L.A.?

Yeah, it is nice to see that. I believe that I really could have helped that team with what I bring, but I guess everything does happen for a reason, and I’m very glad with the way things have worked out. Like I said, I came here and had a role more or less from the beginning. Then, obviously through injuries, that role got bigger and larger. Now to be starting on this team with a great bunch of guys and a great franchise, it’s pretty exciting. 
Blake Griffin spoke with us recently, and said, “I love Joe, he’s a great player and a great guy, I really enjoyed playing with him in the preseason.” What did you take away from that preseason experience in terms of familiarising yourself with the environment of an NBA locker room, and would you like to respond to Blake openly professing his love for you?

I knew he did love me! He never would tell me, but I knew he did secretly. The experience there was great, Going there, with how established all of those guys were, and them probably having no idea who I was or where I was from or what I even brought to the team, they were all so welcoming. Blake (especially) was really good to me, and just helped me out a lot. He got me out of the hotel, and invited me to his house. They were all great guys, but me and Blake did click a little bit, and got on really well.

I won’t tell you that I love him, but he is a great guy. 
Last season, in Tel Aviv… How satisfying was it to be a part of a [Euroleague] championship winning team, and what did you take away from playing under David Blatt? 
Last year was one of the most fun and enjoyable years that I’ve played. I played with a group of guys that I’ll be friends with forever. I made some great relationships there, and to be living in Tel Aviv… Everyone gets a little bit nervous if they haven’t been there, but it’s beautiful. To live there, looking over the beach, and being with a great bunch of guys, and to top it off by winning it all (especially with the way that we started), was something I’ll never forget. 
Blatt was great, Blatt kind of chased me pretty hard in the offseason [to come], and that was one of the reasons that I didn’t go to Memphis. His style of coaching before I got there was the reason I wanted to play for him. I’d seen it a lot, and played against him a few times, and I loved the way that his teams played. Very open, and out there, and letting guys play the game. Like I said, we had a great bunch of guys, and to top it off by winning the championship, it’s something I’ll never forget. It’s something I got so close to in Barcelona a couple of times, and just missed out. So, to be able to get one and have that I guess kind of closed the door for me in Europe a little bit, helping my decision to come over here.

It was something where, when you get so close to the Euroleague and miss out a couple of times, you don’t realise how big it is until you’re over there for a little while. It was something that made me want to go back, and the Maccabi situation was a great situation. It ended up working out just how I’d planned it in my head. 
I spoke with Brett Brown back in November, and he said that there were a number of times that he looked to bring you onto the Sixers’ roster, but couldn’t find a spot due to a positional logjam. He also said, “I think [Joe’s] a very underrated defensive player, I think he’s an exceptional pick-and-roll player for his size—he can pass the ball—and, you know, lately he’s been able to become more of a reliable three-point shooter.”

How much of a mentor was he to you throughout your time in national team camps? Did you get a chance to catch up with him when [the Sixers] came to Salt Lake City a few weeks ago?
 
Yeah, I did catch up with him. He came out on the court after I did my [pre-game] workout, and I spoke to him for about half an hour, which was great of him obviously with what he had to do pre-game to get ready for his team. Me and Brett are really close, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve probably ever played for, if not the best.
He’s probably the first one that really got me playing consistently at the level that I guess maybe I could. I always knew that I could get to a level, but he kind of pushed it up, to get to both ends of the floor, and be a leader of that Australian team. 
I love the guy. He had a huge, huge impact on my career, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be very close with him as long as we both live, and hopefully I can play for him again one day. 
On Danté, has it been a thrill to take him under your wing, and prepare him for life as a professional player? How much smoother was your transition to Salt Lake City as a result of him being there, and the two of you being able to ride the highs and lows of your first season together? 
Yeah, when I got the first phone call about coming over here, I was with the Clippers for so long, and you get comfortable and start to know the guys. To do that, and come over here, it makes it a lot easier to come over here and have someone that you’re familiar with. I knew Quin a little bit, as well, which helped.

[Danté] was huge, the first few weeks he was helping me out a lot on court with the offence and defence, and Quin’s practices and preparation. And vice versa, I think it’s good for him, too, to have me here and to just have someone that he’s familiar with and that he can bounces things off. I mean, I hadn’t played in the States, but I’ve played for a long time now, so I’m just trying to help him in any way I can, I guess.

For him, it’s going to be a long year of ups and downs, and he’s going to have some great games and some average ones. But just to help him out, it was great that we had a relationship before this, and it’s obviously made things stronger. We’re obviously very close, and it’s just great to have someone that you can bounce things off, really.  
You’ve now started 12 straight games, and have averaged nearly 27 minutes a night in January after averaging 16.2 in your first 30-odd games. Did you ever imagine you’d be thrust into such a large role at this early stage?

[Laughs] No, definitely not! I mean, you always hope so, and you always want to do more and help more, but you never know when that time can come. I think over in the States [compared to Europe] it is about getting that opportunity and taking it. In Europe, a lot of the roles are set, and the team’s set. But over here, with so many games, there are obviously injuries, and some teams rest players.

The day that [the Jazz] called me… If you’d have told me that I would start 12 games by halfway through the year, I would have thought you were crazy. It’s awesome; it’s great just to be able to get out there and compete, starting or not. I’m just going to do what I do, and help the team, and it’s a nice honour to get that starting role, but I’d do the same either way, really.