Mike D’Antoni expected to be the Lakers coach about as much as you expected him to be the Lakers coach.
Which is to say, not at all.
He had a Saturday phone interview with the Lakers. After his awkward stint in New York, his next gig might not be a plum one. But late Sunday night things changed and he opened up to Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News about it in his first interview since getting the job. After his Saturday interview he thought what everyone did — Phil Jackson was going to be the next Lakers coach.
“Sure I did,” he said. “For sure I did. Didn’t everybody? When I got the call that it was me, my first reaction was, ‘Are you serious?’”
D’Antoni takes over for Mike Brown, who was fired because he started 1-4 and the Lakers finally saw what had been evident for a while — they wanted to win right now and he might well not be the guy who could do that.
D’Antoni gets a team with his old running mate from Phoenix in Steve Nash, plus Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. And he gets expectations and pressure, although after four years in New York that is something he is more used to.
“I am so happy to be back with Steve Nash,” D’Antoni is saying late on Monday morning. “To get one more chance to have him run the thing the way he did for me before (in Phoenix), well, that’s the kind of thing you never think is going to happen. But now it has…
“I like this team,” D’Antoni said. “We’re good, and we’re gonna get better.”
That’s just what Lakers fans and the Buss family wants to hear. Now he just has to deliver.
Patrick Beverley is going to have a key role with the Rockets — he is their best defending guard. And it’s not close. He can help space the floor as a three-point shooter, he can work off the ball on offense and serve as a backup playmaker, but mostly what he brings is fearless, physical defense.
Except he’s not going to bring it for a while.
Following rumors he might knee surgery comes this from Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects guard Pat Beverley to miss at least 20 games with a left knee injury. His absence “complicates” some roster spots.
The Rockets are going to have one of the best offenses in the NBA but whether they finish fourth or seventh or out of the playoffs completely in the West will come down to a combination of health and how well they defend. This is a setback on both counts.
Expect to see more Eric Gordon, Tyler Ennis, and P.J. Hairston. Gordon has a real chance here. This is going to be an interesting year in Houston.
The Chicago Bulls traded Derrick Rose to New York, in hopes that the locker room, “whose team is this?” drama would head East with him. This is Jimmy Butler‘s team, with Dwyane Wade now assisting.
But the drama isn’t gone yet.
On their way out the door, the camps around Rose and Joakim Noah tried to paint Butler as a Diva who was the real problem. When Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Butler about it, he basically laughed off the idea.
“Am I a diva? I don’t call it that,’’ Butler said before Thursday’s 97-81 loss to Atlanta in their final preseason game. “My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that, but won’t apologize for it. Never will.
“As far as that talk goes, I don’t care. I’m going to keep working and if people don’t like it, people want to say what they want to say, that’s fine. I know, and I think these guys know, where my heart is and how I want to do right by everybody.’’
Rose and Noah thought Butler tried to jump the line to be the leader of the team, which they saw as still their right as the veterans. Butler didn’t care what they thought then, he certainly doesn’t now.
What matters more, Nicola Mirotic and Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis don’t care, and they are the guys still there.
Who will finish with the better record, Bulls or Knicks, is one of my favorite subplots of the NBA season.
The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.
But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.
This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.
Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).
It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.
The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.
Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.
In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.