Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Doc Brown on Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:59 pm


D'Antoni Looks Ahead to 2013-14
September 27, 2013 1:38 pm PDT
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Just a day away from the start of training camp, we sat down with Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni to get some advance notice on how he's approaching the 2013-14 campaign. D'Antoni detailed his (improved) point guard situation, shared his extended thoughts on Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, offered his thoughts on L.A.'s new acquisitions and more.

Below is a transcription of the conversation:

MT: A big issue last season was the health of your point guards, which seemed to plague your ability to install a system for much of the season. Were the injuries the whole story?
D'Antoni: When Steve Blake came back last year, we were pretty good. We were 28-12 to finish the season*. But we could never get both of our point guards healthy all year, as either one or both were out, including in the playoffs. That really hurt us.

*Blake returned two games after the big run to finish the season commenced, so L.A. were 26-12 with him down the stretch.
MT: Well, both Steves are healthy coming into this season and have been at the facility scrimmaging all month. Meanwhile, Jordan Farmar is back on the scene, a guy who shot 44 percent from three for the Nets in his most recent NBA stint, and can both get to and finish at the basket. How do you anticipate the minutes going around with those three, and depending on how and when Kobe Bryant returns?
D'Antoni: Obviously, the Kobe thing will dictate a lot of stuff, but the beauty about those three guys is they all shoot the ball extremely well*, they all can make plays and they can all guard bigger guys, especially Blake. They can play with each other or instead of each other, where we can limit minutes a little bit and not have to play one guy so long. The combination of what we can do there is (varied), so to have one more point guard like Farmar who is really good is going to help things a lot.
*Nash's 43.8 percent from three last season was fifth in the NBA, while Blake's 42.1 percent was 13th.

Kobe Bryant
MT: How would you describe your first year with Bryant, and how you're thinking about the coming season as he aims to return from Achilles surgery?
D'Antoni: Everybody knows the accolades, how tough he is, how determined and all that. A lot of it for this season is going to depend upon when and how he comes back. But he'll get back to where he was, and he had his best statistical year ever last year. I don't see why at some point -- I don't know when that will be -- he'll get back to that level and be that way for the next two or three years.

MT: There's no question that Kobe was terrific last season, proven by another selection to the All-NBA First Team. He was also third in the league in usage rate; is it a challenge to build a cohesive system without him to start camp and run until he gets back when he plays such a huge role?
D'Antoni: Oh yeah, he has a big impact on everything you do. It's another piece to fit in, and it's not ideal, because -- like last year -- you have a new piece coming in to deal with. But with Kobe, you can drop him in on any basketball team, on any playground around the world, and he's going to figure out how to fit in and get his. You don't have to worry about that one.

MT: You want him on your side of a fight …
D'Antoni: Oh yeah. You know what you're getting, and that’s a pit bull attacking the game. That's what you want. You wouldn't want to go into battle with anybody other than him.

MT: In Memphis last season, you made the comment that you took Gasol out because you "Wanted to win the game." Now, it seemed that you were directing that more at the reporter, and that you took Gasol out because he wasn't healthy, wasn't moving well at all. What's the real story?
D'Antoni: Well, I kind of screwed that up. I wasn't thinking about Pau, I was thinking about who asked me the question, so it's more being a smart aleck on my part. I shouldn't have said it that way, because I didn't really mean it that way. Without a doubt, I (took Gasol out because) he wasn't healthy. I shouldn't have been flippant where I was. But the premise of it is silly, when someone asks you why wouldn't you play a guy. Obviously, you're trying to win the game. And at that point, whether the guy is hurt or not, you're trying to do things you think will help the team.

But let me say this about Pau Gasol: to me, he's the best center in the NBA. I can say that now, and whether I'm totally 100 percent right, people can argue with me. They may rank him second, or third, or eighth. I don't know, but his pedigree is he wins at everything he does. He has two championships (and international titles). I don't think there's even an argument about who the most skilled big man is, when you put it all together. There are some that look at a Picasso or a Monet, and like one or the other, and that’s why they have talk shows. But it's silly to think anything different than that he's a great, great player.

MT: Even with Dwight Howard on the block last season, Gasol averaged 17.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.3 blocks on 51.3 percent shooting in April once he began to get healthier and more involved. But it's been a unique set of circumstances the last few seasons when the league's most skilled big has had to shift his game more away from the rim due to the presence of Andrew Bynum and Howard, who can only play on the block.
D'Antoni: Without a doubt, he's had to adjust his game. He's been playing out of position, and people forget that when the Lakers were winning championship, it was Pau at the five and Lamar Odom at the four, and that's where you put fear in opponent's hearts. That's where we'll try to get this year with Pau at the five, which is his natural position, even though he can play other positions. That's where he's best. He probably felt slighted last year, but everybody knew the road the Lakers were taking, and we tried to go down that road. He did what he could, sacrificed his game, and I felt badly about the situation. But obviously, I don't even have a doubt that he's a great player. He can do everything. It doesn't matter where you put him. We'll just try to find the right kind of combination of people around him. His whole thing is if he can be injury free, and pain free, which he wasn't last year. He played through a lot of pain. He wasn't moving well until later in the season, and he had two triple-doubles in the final few games at that point. He's only 33 years old, and he hasn't lost anything. I'm excited about what he can do and where we can use him.

MT: If there's a question about the bigs, it's if they can protect the rim. Gasol was able to do it well during the 2009 and 2010 championship runs, but had some help from Bynum in particular over the course of 82 games. How do you protect the rim, especially late in games, this season?
D'Antoni: Without a doubt, that's one of the factors in winning games. That's going to be our challenge this year. We're going to be better offensively, be quicker and all that, but can we protect the paint as well as we did in certain games at certain times? We weren't consistent at it last year because of the chemistry problems and worries on offense carrying over to defense saps your energy and collective team spirit, except at times. But we couldn't sustain it. And we will need to play team defense this year to protect the paint; the rest of the stuff, we're going to do fine.

MT: Last year was almost an exception for you in terms of what you were able to run, given the personnel, lack of training camp and other factors; to what extent can you get back to the way you want to play as a coach this season?
D'Antoni: I think we will definitely see more, but we'll have to see how much. Every team will find its own pace, so we'll see how that goes. But obviously, we've added a lot of athletic and younger guys on the team, so the pace is going to increase. We'll try to push tempo a little bit more, for sure. We hope that if we can play the right way in a sense of how the ball moves, how we run, how we space the floor, that guys like Wesley Johnson, Nick Young, Farmar, Xavier Henry and Elias Harris can maximize their productivity. You may have one guy explode on the scene, because we have some talented guys still trying to find their footing in the NBA. Hopefully, we can facilitate that. Playing them with guards like Blake and Nash is going to help with that, as is playing with Pau Gasol, who is an extremely gifted passer. Everyone should flourish from the ball moving and playing a certain type of basketball.

Steve Nash
MT: Speaking of Nash – he really never got healthy last season. When he broke his leg, he wasn't able to stay on top of back issues that lingered throughout the season even after he returned …
D'Antoni: Without a doubt, it was a messed up year for him. There were also a lot of other factors, like coming to a new team and wanting to succeed when not physically feeling well, trying to worry about his game, his body but yet having other problems on the floor that he had to do with. There was not one thing he could put his hat on like, 'I've done this for the last 15 years and don't have to worry about it,' because everything was new. The way he felt, his teammates, the system, the city, living in a different place, all kinds of stuff he had to deal with. And when you're not well physically, it's hard to get into a groove. I don't think he ever found his footing last year.

MT: Being 39, there will be questions about his physical readiness all season. How has Nash looked to you in workouts this summer in comparison to how he was last season?
D'Antoni: I'd be crazy to say he isn't pushing the boundaries, but I wouldn't bet against him. I've seen it before. I'm very confident it's not a problem, but I know why there would be questions about it. Just looking at how he moves, how he trains … most of the time what goes first is the will to play at a high level, the will to train, and he hasn't lost that. I've been watching, and his body hasn't slowed down much at all. I'm sure there will be days that he doesn't bounce back quite as quickly — maybe back to backs will be problematic — and we'll look at that as we go forward. But I just wouldn't bet against him, just like I wouldn't bet against Kobe coming back from an injury, because they have the same type of mental approach.

MT: Does he look like the Steve Nash of old in these scrimmages?
D'Antoni: Oh yeah. He's much more comfortable with his body, and in great shape. He's looked great out here, he's played well.

MT: Many teams have adapted to a type of similar you've gotten credit for developing in Phoenix. How important is a differentiating system versus just having better players?
D'Antoni: There have been changes since the rules were adjusted, with coaches developing along the way. You'll see a lot more small ball now, a lot more four's playing (away from the rim). You'll see more threes, more teams trying to spread everyone out. It does come down to the best five playing together, not necessarily just the five most talented players. Hopefully we can go to Pau or Kobe in the post when it's needed, but otherwise spread the ball around the floor. Ultimately, we're trying to get layups, foul shots and threes, statistically the best types of shots. That's league-wide now, and you can break it down further from that template. Whatever people want to run specifically within that, that's fine. Two big guys, two little guys, whatever. You have to try and do that while keeping the best defensive team on the floor as you can, and keeping a balance. The teams that win the title are your collectively best offensive and defensive teams.

MT: To apply that to guys like Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman or even a Shawne Williams, all of whom play very differently, how do you figure that out to work best around Gasol, for example?
D'Antoni: We'll see who plays the best together, how it's affected by Steve Nash, and so on. We have a whole month of camp to look at it, and we'll get data from the preseason games to go deeper. You just try to figure out what the best line up that's most effective most of the time, and that's what you go with.

MT: Williams shot 40 percent from three for you at the four slot in New York in 2010-11. He's been out of the league for a bit, but how much can he potentially change what you do if you want to go small?
D'Antoni: First of all, he was the 17th overall pick in 2006, and is 6-9 with big hands and long arms. He is not a little guy at all, and he can guard in the low post in addition to shooting threes. He's strong and big. Now, he hasn't played for a while, but that's a possibility. Now we also have Elias Harris, who's 6-9 and very athletic, who can give us a different dimension. We want to see if Ryan Kelly can guard the low post, because we know he can shoot at 6-11. We have a lot of guys that we can make different combinations with. We have a lot of guys competing for spots, and for time. We'll take the data, and coaches' gut instincts, and try to figure out the best group.

MT: Nick Young's a terrific 1-on-1 scorer, but moving the ball hasn't always been a strength, as witnessed by his 1.0 career assists average. How do you get a player like that to fit into a system where you don't want the ball to stick?
D'Antoni: He can pass the ball … you just talk to him; he's a good kid. He does what he does really well, so you want to be careful about trying to change everything. You just want to get him in with the group, and he can adjust.

MT: Last season, you inherited Mike Brown's coaching staff, bringing only your brother Dan into the group. This season, you've hired Kurt Rambis, Johnny Davis and player personnel coaches Larry Lewis and Mark Madsen, and they've been with you for most of the summer. What difference can that make?
D'Antoni: I don't have any complaints about the other staff, that was good, they just didn't know me and we were trying to learn on the fly. The thing that this helps is having all August and September to know each other, and figure out how we want to play and what we want to do. From that aspect, we're going to hit the ground running, where last year the staff didn't know how I wanted to play when I came in. It took us a month to get comfortable, but this year we get to start from the beginning.


http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/130927dantoni_looks_ahead
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby kray28 on Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:15 pm

D'Antoni: Well, I kind of screwed that up. I wasn't thinking about Pau, I was thinking about who asked me the question, so it's more being a smart aleck on my part. I shouldn't have said it that way, because I didn't really mean it that way.


I never thought Pringles would have the humility to admit something like this. Maybe there's hope for him yet?
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Center Court on Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:11 pm

kray28 wrote:
D'Antoni: Well, I kind of screwed that up. I wasn't thinking about Pau, I was thinking about who asked me the question, so it's more being a smart aleck on my part. I shouldn't have said it that way, because I didn't really mean it that way.


I never thought Pringles would have the humility to admit something like this. Maybe there's hope for him yet?



hope for he embracing guys feelings, yes. Hope that he's a good coach for this franchise... not even close.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby therealdeal on Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:38 pm

Great interview.

I'm honestly very excited about what D'Antoni can do with this team. This team is built precisely the way D'Antoni needs them to be. Hopefully he'll be able to work the same magic he's done here as he has with previous teams built similarly.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby karacha on Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:04 pm

I agree. He finally got some young guys who can push the ball, and, for the most part, shoot. He makes young players and role-players better. Last year, he was not the right coach for the team. This season, he actually might be. I am looking forward to this season. MDA is pretty good with his rotations when half of the guys are not hurt and he's not afraid to admit he's wrong. He tries different lineups too, which I like. We'll see...
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Toklat on Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:32 pm

As stated earlier MD makes young players better.. Our older players will take care of themselves. It is very likely that all the young players we picked up will have their best seasons by a big margin. Farmar is going to be incredible in this system. You heard it here first 54 wins and a team nobody wants to see in the playoffs. Also predicting this team will be much better defensively than most think, I will actually say quite a bit better since most don't think they will be very good. While I'm making predictions I will also predict that most on this forum will be looking at MD in a much different light by years end. Farmar is going to be a huge key to this team. I for one cannot wait to get started.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Doc Brown on Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:44 pm

Not sure if Toklat or Jordan Farmar.

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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby therealdeal on Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:18 pm

:man10:
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Battle Tested20 on Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:54 pm

:man10:
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Toklat on Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:58 pm

I will admit to being a farmar fan...lol
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby therealdeal on Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:10 pm

Hey Jordan. It's good to have you back man.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Lakerjones on Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:16 am

Obviously I'm not much of a D' Antoni fan. But I do like what he's saying about Pau here. If he can get him back playing his game at the 5 that's good news. I thought our offense absolutely looked its best last year when Dwight went down with the shoulder and Pau took over at center. Granted, our defense took a nose dive. But purely from a basketball aesthetic view point - we looked a heck of a lot better. Who knows, maybe Rambis can improve the team's defensive schemes as well. I expect getting wins to be a struggle for us this year, but maybe we'll see an improvement in their overall team play.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby trodgers on Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:00 am

therealdeal wrote:Hey Jordan. It's good to have you back man.

Ditto. Thanks for posting here at CL, Farmar.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby karacha on Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:20 am

Toklat wrote:As stated earlier MD makes young players better.. Our older players will take care of themselves. It is very likely that all the young players we picked up will have their best seasons by a big margin. Farmar is going to be incredible in this system. You heard it here first 54 wins and a team nobody wants to see in the playoffs. Also predicting this team will be much better defensively than most think, I will actually say quite a bit better since most don't think they will be very good. While I'm making predictions I will also predict that most on this forum will be looking at MD in a much different light by years end. Farmar is going to be a huge key to this team. I for one cannot wait to get started.


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Welcome man, can't wait to see you play this season! :jam2:
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby therealdeal on Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:49 am

Lakerjones wrote:Obviously I'm not much of a D' Antoni fan. But I do like what he's saying about Pau here. If he can get him back playing his game at the 5 that's good news. I thought our offense absolutely looked its best last year when Dwight went down with the shoulder and Pau took over at center. Granted, our defense took a nose dive. But purely from a basketball aesthetic view point - we looked a heck of a lot better. Who knows, maybe Rambis can improve the team's defensive schemes as well. I expect getting wins to be a struggle for us this year, but maybe we'll see an improvement in their overall team play.

The prevailing theme through every last one of our players is chemistry. Every last person who was involved with the team last season and is still here has made the same claim: this season chemistry will be so much better. That's going to help in ways most of us aren't expecting. I expect the defense to improve because of this. Build some chemistry, buy in to the concepts, and I think this team will gel much better. More importantly I expect the overall defense to improve.

When we're not dependent on just one or two guys to carry our team and instead we're five guys as a cohesive unit, the defense should look better for the most part.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Toklat on Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:46 am

Thank you!! I will try not to disappoint... just remember to come back and thank me next summer...lol In the past I was not an MD fan either but he is our coach. It is very hard for coaches to change styles to fit players even though they should be able to. Only the very best can. This group will make him look much better. In return many of these young players will be better and we have a decent season. My only credentials here are I have coached high school basketball for 25 years and I have been a devoted laker fan since 71. To the point my friends avoid me during the season.... and just so I can feel like I fit in Yes Kobe is better than Mike!
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby karacha on Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:19 am

I think most of us, even those guys that don't like MDA very much, will admit this group of players is better for him. If he can make Blake play like that, then Young and Farmar will thrive in the system. And they are not the only ones.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Lakerjones on Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:39 am

karacha wrote:I think most of us, even those guys that don't like MDA very much, will admit this group of players is better for him. If he can make Blake play like that, then Young and Farmar will thrive in the system. And they are not the only ones.


Hmm. Well I guess that's some kind of "silver lining." Honestly though, and this isn't aimed at you or anyone else but just more of a general critique of mine: I get that people want to have some optimism about the team and look at how our team is going to get along so much better without the Prima Donna Howard, etc., but none of that makes me feel an iota better about the current Lakers product. This isn't meant as disrespect towards guys like Young, Farmar, etc. . . it's just I don't really view this with rose colored glasses knowing full well that our team is going to struggle mightily just to even try to sniff the playoffs.

If last year's squad was healthy all year they would have been a contender to win it all. This year, if all are healthy we're a contender to make the 7th or 8th spot. It's a HUGE drop off and we all know next year doesn't look a whole lot better on paper since chances are very high that we won't be getting one of the premiere FA's: i.e. Lebron.

Basically what I'm saying is I don't really care if D' Antoni has pieces more to his liking as he isn't going to be winning anything of note with them.

The things I'm happy about are that maybe I can see Pau healthier and playing more at the 5, so that I can at least watch some decent offensive sets again. I saw that last year for that short time that Dwight was out and it at least made things watchable.

People keep saying how "fun" this team is going to be and I have to say that I don't find a lot of fun watching D' Antoni ball. Maybe when Nash was a lot younger. But even then I was never a fan of their brand of run and gun. Plus I'm not sure I see how this team, other than a few of the bench guys, is a fit for that kind of play. You still have an ancient Nash, Kobe coming off the Achilles, Pau past his prime (and he was never exactly a gazelle up and down the floor), and who else? Hill? Yeah, he could get up and down but he's not a scorer - just rebounds and garbage points. And let's not forget the fact that D' Antoni doesn't seem to like Hill at all! He's been in his doghouse since the Knicks. Please don't tell me that D' Antoni is going to start Kaman AND Gasol. There's not going to be a lot of running with that squad. I don't even know who they are going to put at the three. So the bulk of your starting squad is still 30 plus years old and all of those guys are going to see significant minutes out there. I know there's talk of limiting Nash a bit. They ought to!

The most fun is in winning, not a style of basketball. And still I do care about style somewhat. I just don't particularly like run and gun, and I don't think it's going to apply other than for mostly the bench unit.

What I want to see is plenty of Pau in the post, which I was happy to hear D' Antoni talk about, even if it's for passing purposes a lot of the time. But that's a more traditional offense.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Vasashi17 on Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:27 pm

^^Thank you for that LJ....what people forget about Showtime is that they had a legitimate defensive mentality. Riles took that to NY and then Miami by bringing up Spoels. Style points matter, but it's waaaaay down there in priority when it comes to titles.

I'm happy the team went young...but these young pieces need a better voice than D'Antoni. All they will be encouraged to do is run and fork up as many shots as they can muster. Rambis needs to make sure he checks MDA from time to time, cause if any of these young guys are staying past this year, you want them to have the right mentality and approach.

Whatever the outcome, this season should only have one outcome for MDA...

#deadmanwalking

BTW: management needs to stop chasing Showtime. Cp3, Nash or whoever ain't Magic. The closest thing is Bron and until you can bring him in the mix, its a travesty to associate MDA's offense to Showtime.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby puffyusaf#2 on Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:01 pm

Hey welcome Jordan
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby karacha on Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:51 pm

Too much negativity there Vash.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby jlkr on Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:21 pm

MDA would have made the Finals were it not for a certain Robert Horry hip check. Pretty sure he would have beaten the ECF champ that year.

The league has been moving steadily closer to the way he coaches. Given that the new bench is a tad closer to the way he likes to go, we could have good results if the young players not only buy in, but play over their heads as a shot to that next contract. In addition of course to the old guys staying healthy.

Also don't forget MDA assisted Mike K for Team USA at the 2006 World Cup and the 2012 Olympics. So he already has at least some relationship with Lebron. Who would be a perfect fit in MDA's system with his size, speed and playmaking.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Toklat on Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:12 pm

Thanks for the welcome... This team is going to be so much better than people are thinking.. It will be nice to hear all the tunes changing in a couple months. I think most would agree that offensively we should put up some points. With the younger quicker players we will not get broken down on defense with all the drives in the middle. Rambis will have rotations down. He just needs to get those thick black glasses back out. Once Kobe is healthy this team is better than lasts years team. Just getting rid of Howard makes us better.... and we have our Ace in the hole.. Farmar. This guy is incredible..lol The key is keeping the right mix of old and young on the court. MD will take care of that and the enthusiasm Mad Dog and Clark Kent bring will keep those young guys pumped. We make the playoffs and with luck in the health department.. who knows..
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby Weezy on Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:42 pm

Another interview from Sunday, I only quoted the one part that stood out to me

http://blog.lakers.com/lakers/2013/09/29/dantoni-addresses-impact-of-training-camp/

Q: On playing Steve Blake alongside Nash at shooting guard:
D’Antoni: We’ll see. That’s what preseason is for, to determine who will start. There’s a lot of guys battling for time and positions. Steve is going to be a big part of it no matter what he does, and we’ll see if that means starting. But there’s no reason why he wouldn’t start, but there’s also some other guys who might have something to say about it.


Please god no, Blake was big for us to finish last season, he stepped up, he started scoring, I like the guy, but he is NOT a shooting guard. Defensively he can't play it, he is too small, it's unfair to him. What I do like is that 'Antoni says "we'll see", and that there are a lot of guys fighting for that spot.
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Re: Interview w/ Mike D'Antoni

Postby karacha on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:35 pm

If Kobe is not around, Blake can play some 2 (with Nash/Farmar playing the PG position), but not start. There is no reason for him to be our starting shooting guard until Kobe comes back. But then... Meeks really needs to step up. If he does not, I'd rather have Blake.

When Kobe comes back, I don't want to see Blake at the SG at all.
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