The shock of Mike D’Antoni being hired by the Lakers as head coach is starting to wear off, but Los Angeles is struggling to gel as a team. Pau Gasol looks lost on the court at times and the team is clearly suffering from a quick transition to a new head coach. Mike D’Antoni understands it’s going to take some practice to get the Lakers back on track, but he needs his offensive leader, Steve Nash. The Lakers’ new head coach gives a status update on the 7-8 Lakers Mike D’Antoni joined 790 The Ticket in Miami on The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz and guest co-host Stan Van Gundy to discuss not having fun yet as Lakers head coach, the Lakers looking different once Steve Nash returns from injury, the amount of practices he needs to turn the Lakers around, Pau Gasol struggling in the Lakers’ new system, reaching out to Mike Brown after his firing and Brown’s firing not being fair.
Are you having fun yet?
“No. Fun? [Laughs] 77 points [last night]? No. That’s not fun. The bright side is we only missed 25 shots. We went to the line 43 times and we got 77 points. That’s hard to do.”
Why will this all feel different when Steve Nash gets back?
“Because he’s one of the best running the offense. I think, also, other guys on the floor will defer to him more and will trust him to run the team, so in that aspect it’s going to be good. In Phoenix, we couldn’t even think about winning without him being on the floor and couldn’t get 100 points. I’m hoping some of that is going to be the same. We have some issues to work out whether he is on the floor or not, but at the same time you are talking that a lot of our offense is pick-and-roll generated — a lot of it, most of it. Right now we are getting nothing from that and hopefully with Steve that will go up.”
How many practices have you had? How long do you think it will take?
“The first couple of weeks and practices you have, and just the change and … the way the offense is going, guys do perk their ears up. You do have habits. You play a certain way for years and after the initial love affair, it’s like dating a new girl. After that first infatuation you kind of go back to your old habits. We have to change that and it takes awhile. … Steve is a great one to change real quick because he is going to have the ball a lot. He knows he always has played that way. Other guys have not played that way ever. It’s going to take awhile. I wish I knew how long that was going to be, but that will make it tougher. We have some issues where if we want to be a contending team, which we do, and we have the talent to do, that there are certain fundamental things that we have to change. It’s the relationships and the trust and the joy of playing and we are not there yet, so we’ll keep working on it. We’ll pound away and take a step forward with that Dallas [game] and a step back with Indiana. Just keep going forward.”
Why does Pau Gasol look so lost out there?
“I think a little bit of habits and more of a center than a No. 4, but a very skilled big guy. There’s not that much difference between a No. 4 and a No. 5. He can spread the floor. I think he’s finding his way and there’s some night he looks great ’cause he does have a lot of skill. There’s some nights he and a lot of other guys just struggle. It’s up to me how to put him in the right positions and get him comfortable and get him meshed, but it’s a big difference between playing against Lamar Odom than playing with Dwight Howard. He has to be the guy to adjust and there are going to be some nights that make it hard on him.”
After you got the Lakers job did you reach out to Mike Brown? Did you talk to him?
“You know, not really, ’cause he’s probably down. We will talk later. He’s a great guy, great coach, and will get another job, and I think everybody has gone through exactly what he has gone through. That’s part of our business and, you know, sometimes you get in a situation where you have no control over it and it just happens and people get hurt, but you gotta and he will. He’ll be a confident coach. He should be, and he’ll resurface and that’s what we do. We just keep plugging away and hope all the horizontal and vertical lines come together and you get a in position where it all clicks. You’re lucky to get in that position. A lot of coaches don’t, but you keep trying to get there.”
Was it fair what the Lakers did to Mike Brown?
“No. No. It’s never fair. But it’s our business and our business is not fair. That’s the basis of it and that’s the way it goes. I think when you sign on the dotted line, and they pay you a lot of money to do that, it’s part of the business. A lot of it isn’t fair and it’s not a reflection on who you are as a head coach and who you are as a person, but that’s part of the game and otherwise don’t get into coaching ’cause that’s the way it is.”