An Interview With the Toros/Clippers Andre Barrett
By Matt Moore,
11:54AM, Fri. Mar. 7, 2008
“He’s as good a point guard as there is in this league. And I know he doesn’t want to be in this league. And I think he may not be for long.”
That was Quin Snyder discussing the newest Austin Toro, Andre Barrett. That’s also a pretty good summation of the 26-year-old NBA veteran who’s currently No. 1 on the Draft Express Call-Up board. And you better catch him now, while he’s in Austin, because he may not be here for long.
Barrett is what you might call the prototypical D-League player. That carries with it a lot of negative aspects, and some positive points as well. Barrett came out of Seton Hall, and was signed as a free agent by the New York Knicks. He had stints with more than half a dozen NBA teams in less than two years. For a while, it was thought that he had finally stuck with the Chicago Bulls. It was not to be. While his speed and quickness are enviable, he was just considered too small and too raw to hold a roster spot.
This is what the NBA D-League was created for. To help players like Barrett meld into NBA-caliber players. Instead of bolting for the fast cash money of Europe this season, Barrett stuck with the D-League and worked on getting his teammates involved.
And so he’s worked on his game in the D-League, becoming one of the best point guards in the league. He was selected to the D-League All-Star game, which is where he caught my eye. Which was hard, because he was moving so fast, it was difficult to follow him. His top-end speed is slightly ridiculous. Earlier this month, he was traded to the Austin Toros. I had a chance to sit down with Barrett and discuss life in the D-League, his new surroundings, and more.
Austin Chronicle: What was your reaction when you were traded to Austin?
Andre Barrett: You know, I was pretty happy. This team is already good. To come here and be part of a team that’s good and has a lot of good players, with me adding more to it, I’m very excited.
AC: How do you feel about your chances of being called up, with some teams looking at rebuilding and others looking at filling out their rosters for the playoffs?
AB: I’m not going to turn down anything. Any possible call-up on any team is good. You can’t depend on one team, you have to play for any opportunity.
AC: How much communication with the league have you had, if any?
AB: You can’t depend on anything you hear. I’ve been told I’m going to be called up any second. I’m just focused on bringing my talent to this team and trying to help win games. If I think about getting called up, it might affect my game down here. So I don’t think about it too much.
AC: What do you think is the biggest asset you bring to a team?
AB: Pushing the ball on both ends of the floor. Picking up the pace. Getting a team running, making sure everyone’s happy.
AC: How much time have you spent in Austin?
AB: I lived in Houston, in my first year I played with the Rockets. I enjoyed my stay in Houston and I’m happy to be here.
AC: What are you looking forward to about living in Austin?
AB: Getting the opportunity to see Austin and what’s around, what’s going on in town.
AC: With so much NBA experience, do you feel like your time in the D-League is helpful or are you just trying to get noticed to get picked up?
AB: It’s a little bit of both. Me having NBA experience, and having the opportunity to play at times, but also having the opportunity to sit. Last year when I was with the Bulls, I didn’t get much playing time, so I was a little rusty. But I think this whole year, with me playing, I’ve had an opportunity to show people what I can do. Last year was kind of a waste, because while I got a lot out of practice, now I’ve had the chance to show what I can do consistently. I’ve been with a lot of different teams, and I have a lot I can do on a consistent basis.
AC: Thanks for your time, good luck this season.
AB: Thanks a lot.
Epilogue: Turns out Quin Snyder’s a pretty smart guy. Less than an hour after I spoke to Quin and he told me he expected Andre to get called up, the Los Angeles Clippers offered Barrett a 10-day contract with the club. Barrett only had the chance to play one game with the Toros, but made his presence felt, pushing the ball constantly and helping his players get out in transition. Toros director of basketball development indicated Saturday night that if the Clippers were to release Barrett, the Toros would make every effort to reacquire him. Just goes to show you two things. Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it. And two, there really is NBA talent always percolating throughout the D-League.