Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni is not a man who holds back when asked to share his thoughts on any subject. He is a man who answers question, throws in a couple laughs, and always speaks his mind. He would not be described as a measured man because the 61-year-old West Virginian speaks faster than his offense is supposed to run.
At Sunday’s Lakers practice, D’Antoni illustrated that he is a man of many words, once again, and Lakers fans should be happy to hear D’Antoni’s system is malleable as long as the team is winning.
When confronted with Antawn Jamison’s post-game comments, D’Antoni explained that he preferred Metta World Peace at the power forward position, and Jamison had not done anything to get out of the rotation. Also, Jordan Hill provided more youthful energy and offensive rebounding than Jamison. For the time being, Jamison was not the coach’s choice, but there was no issue between him and Jamison.
Jamison would later confirm that he was not unhappy with the coach, team, or city. D’Antoni’s openness on a potential issue combined with his desire to inexplicitly share all his thoughts on the non-issue deserved to be applauded.
D’Antoni said, “If (the media goes) to a player after he doesn’t play in a game, he’s going to be upset. Stuff comes out, but there’s nothing there…now he didn’t send me a Christmas gift, I’m a bit upset about that.”
D’Antoni is one to add in a joke, especially when he is in the middle of making a couple serious points.
He added, “I didn’t have the luxury of having a training camp…I had to go through everybody and see if I see something.”
Considering the countless rotations and player combinations D’Antoni put out after taking over, it would be hard to argue the Lakers’ coach did not just treat the first month he was in charge as a training camp.
Probably the most encouraging statement from Sunday’s practice displayed D’Antoni’s willingness to try anything that works, even if he may not think it fits with his personal vision.
D’Antoni said, “In my mind, I wanted to go small. But then again, we might be better big. And we’re going to try the big for a while. And then, we’ll see how that goes.”
D’Antoni tried to win games with Pau Gasol on the bench down the stretch. That did not work. Thus, D’Antoni adapted and realized his job as coach is as much about getting the best out of his best players as it is about playing the best players for his particular brand of basketball.
D’Antoni is buying into Gasol, Gasol is buying into D’Antoni, and everyone is buying into Steve Nash. The coach was deservedly criticized when the Lakers were losing games in ugly fashion.