PUREFOODS coach Tim Cone on Wednesday was quick to play down fears over the reported volatile temper and knee issues of incoming import Daniel Orton, saying these are the least of his concerns.
With Purefoods hoping to bounce back from a poor Philippine Cup campaign following a string of four championships that included a grand slam, Cone bared that it was skills and intangibles that Orton is capable of bringing to games that convinced him to sign the import.
“I like his skills, it’s about how well his skills will translate here in the Philippines. More than anything else, it’s how his skills will translate here in our league,” said Cone. “We never know what we’ll get until he gets here, but in my opinion he will (do well). We have a vision of how he will play for us.”
Listed as 6-10 in the US, the former Kentucky star was picked 29th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2010 NBA Draft and had short and mostly uneventful stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Magic before taking his act to China.
Of late, he joined the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) to replace NBA veteran Metta World Peace. He will join Purefoods once his contract with Sichuan ends on February 1.
Cone shook off reports that the 24-year-old Orton has been slowed down by lingering knee injuries which cut short his high school basketball career as well as his stint with the New Mexico Thunderbirds in the NBA D-League.
“Everybody has a knee injury. But I saw him play. He’s playing in China, he’s doing pretty well. We’re not too concerned about the injury at the moment,” said Cone laughing.
Cone also sounded unconcerned about Orton's temper that saw him get involved in several brawls, including one triggered by a hit on the neck of Portland Trailblazer forward Meyers Loenard while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Just last December, Orton was involved in a wild dust-up with Tianjian forward Liu Wei in the CBA. The wide-bodied cager reportedly punched Wei while the sweet-shooting wingman was lying on the floor, leading to his ejection.
But for Cone, he said he's been in the PBA long enough to know how to manage the behavior of imports.
“We’ve got a lot of tough guys come in here through the years, you cannot get a perfect player. You have a choice of things, you got a guy who is a really nice guy, but don’t have the skills. The good guys with great skills are in the NBA. We don’t have a chance with those kind of guys,” he said.
“He wants to win, he wants to make money. All the imports do. They know they can be successful if they start to listen,” added Cone, who has coached former Best Import awardees Sean Chambers, Devin Davis, Rosell Eliis, Denzel Bowles and Marqus Blakely in his 27-year coaching career.
Cone bared that the first thing he wants to see in Orton is how well he can jell with his teammates.
“I like Daniel’s skills, I think it’ll translate well here, whether he responds well to his teammate or to me, that’s just something he needs to prove to us when he’s here,” he said.
As for the clamor from Purefoods fans for the return of Bowles, Cone said the hardworking former PBA best import is still deep in his stint in the CBA playoffs with the Jilin Northeast Tigers.
“It’ll be pretty impossible to bring in Denzel, his team is playing well in the CBA,” he said.
Asked to compare Bowles and Orton, Cone declared ther are poles apart.
“They’re not the same type of players. Denzel is a great jump shooter and an offensive type of player; Daniel is more of a rebounder, shot-blocker and inside scoring type of guy. They’re different,” he said.
“We have a vision for how Daniel will play for us.”