After I caught up with Steve Novak about the early Bird rights ruling and its impact on his Knicks' future, we reflected on his breakthrough season, talked about his summer and looked ahead to the fall.
Here's our conversation:
Q: When you look back on your time with the Knicks, what do you pinpoint as the reasons for getting to this point in your career where you're an attractive free agent?
Novak: I really do think that if I was a rookie on this team, I just don't think that I would've had the success that I did. I think I had to mature a lot, for sure, over the last five years. I do think it was a process for me and I think that the stars did align a little bit in the sense that I think for me I was ready for an opportunity, and I think the Knicks worked good for me. Obviously, I think the team complemented each other very much. I think I played very well off of Jeremy [Lin] and I think vice versa. If you're not ready for the opportunity when it comes, it just kind of comes and goes. So I think a lot of it had to do with timing and taking advantage of an opportunity.
Q: When you saw, your friend, Shane Battier and the Miami Heat win the championship, were there any things that triggered ways you and the Knicks should prepare for next season?
Novak: I really do think that we made strides this year. We didn't make it as far as we wanted. I think that first round was obviously a tough series for us with Iman [Shumpert] and Amare [Stoudemire] and Baron [Davis], and those guys going down -- and Tyson [Chandler] being as sick as a dog in that first game. I'm not saying that if we were at full strength we would've beat them, but there's no doubt in my mind if we were at full strength, we would've had a much, much better shot at beating them. I think we're cultured to winning a championship than a first-round loss. That's how I feel.
Q: Have you been training at Marquette? I know you spend a lot of time at your alma mater in the offseason.
Novak: For sure. Pretty much, every summer I come back home to Milwaukee and see the family and work out at Marquette every day.
Q: What are you working on in the gym?
Novak: I don't think that I'll ever become like a drastically different player, obviously at this stage in my career. Some summers have just been really getting my shot up quicker or something strictly related to my shot. But this summer, for me, my focus is definitely putting the ball on the floor more, whether it be one dribble or two, or going to the hoop and drawing fouls and that kind of stuff. I think my big emphasis is going to be upper-body strength and just being more comfortable putting the ball on the floor.
Q: I've always enjoyed watching your pre-game routine. It's very meticulous and focuses on different moves leading into your shot. How did you come up with that?
Novak: To be honest, it's kind of something that myself and [Knicks assistant coach] Kenny Atkinson sort of just evolved. I think a lot of it is routine. I always just really want to have the same routine before every game, and I've always been a routine kind of guy. Part of it is really just feel. Sometimes when we get out there, we do maybe a little bit more if we had two days off, or if it was a back-to-back, we'd do a little less. But generally, it's just kind of something we put together at the beginning of the season and it worked good for us.
Q: By the way, congrats on Marquette players Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom getting drafted by the Mavericks and Lakers?
Novak: Yeah. I talked to both of them and I'm excited for them; they're going to have a good time. I think those teams are going to be good fits, and I think that they're both in great spots for their games. I hope that they stick.
Q: So I gotta ask, do you have any crazy fishing adventures coming up like Jared Jeffries just had?
Novak: [laughs] That was pretty funny. I'll tell you what. Jeremy actually just saw that stuff. I was texting him and I was like, "Did you see that stuff we were tweeting or what?" And he finally tweeted back. He tweeted me something to us: "@JaredZwerling statistics show people lose followers everytime they interact with @stevenovak20 on twitter lol. Be careful!" I was like, "Jeez, man, that was pretty mean."
Q: Have you had a chance to enjoy the summer a little bit?
Novak: Yeah. We pretty much stay in Milwaukee for most of the summer. We get away a little bit every now and then, but for the most part we're just here to see the family and hang out.
Q: How's the little one and his jumpshot coming?
Novak: He's good. [Mack] will be two this month. That's really why we're here, to see the family and just keep the workouts going. We have a lot of fun and we relax, too. It's good for the body.
Q: Will you be back in New York in August?
Novak: Yeah, I mean that would be definitely the step two after I sign. I think that would be the time. I think coach Woody is going to have us doing some type of running thing earlier, and that will probably be a few weeks before training camp.
Q: What did you think of Mike Woodson coming back?
Novak: I think it's great. I think that he showed obviously what he brings to the team when he took over, and I think he's a great fit.
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