After making a school visit Wednesday in Connecticut, Chris Copeland spoke with ESPNNewYork.com, reflecting on his first NBA season, summer plans and thoughts on a future in New York.
What factors will be most important to you during your first free-agency process?
"An opportunity to play is huge for me. But honestly, I've had a lot of great, great memories and experiences in New York, and I've met a lot of great people here. I really love it here. It's very possible I'll be in New York. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be. Just being in that locker room after Game 6 [against the Pacers], I was looking around and I could see everybody that fought together. We're in it together. It's 'New York' across my chest. I didn't take my jersey off for a long time. I just sat there and was staring at it. It's a part of me."
Looking back on the season, was there a moment when you felt like you'd be in the NBA for the foreseeable future?
"It's hard to say because I had my moments where I felt comfortable, but I was never that comfortable. I was like, 'I know this can end.' I've been through so much in my life and I know how fast things can change. I was never like, 'I'm good now,' like I never felt like I can breathe. I always tried to stay as sharp as possible."
You told me the other day, "My head is hurting from the season." What was the root of that feeling?
"I think it was a little bit of everything. There's nothing like playing in the NBA. Your life picks up and it goes fast. It's a crazy lifestyle, but the playoff atmosphere, playoff time, it's even crazier. There's just something about the end of the season. Everybody's chasing titles and making moves. There's a lot going on at once. It was just a lot to handle at one time. I've never been a part of the process, especially playing. Everything is just faster, larger and more people are watching. It's just crazy."
What was the most overwhelming part?
"The travel. I think people underestimate how difficult it can be to travel, and get up and go all the time. You can't be home with any breath of fresh air and just relax for a second. It's like every time you get back, it's time to move again. Not being able to settle and collect your thoughts for a long, long period of time, I think that was challenging for me."
There was a rare situation in the second half of Game 5 against the Pacers when you played alongside Carmelo Anthony, and it worked out well. There was more inside-out offense, and the ball flow and spacing were solid. I could envision that two-man lineup more next season.
"Right, and I think it's pretty interchangeable. I can post, he can post. That would be a great option going forward if I get to come back."
I know you've talked a lot about needing to improve defensively. What was the biggest challenge?
"One-on-one, I'm pretty solid I think. But rotations, I was really bad. I didn't know where to be in certain situations, and when to go or when not to go. I struggled in doing that. But I learned a lot from Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin and Rasheed Wallace. Those guys took me under their wing and taught me so much. I still have a lot to learn."
What's your offseason training plan?
"I'll be working out of Richmond, Virginia, mostly. I went to high school out there and I have some trainers there. Also, some NBA guys like Ben Wallace and Ed Davis. I'll be a much better player next year; that's my goal. My focus is defense, absolutely."
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