Lakers fans are desperate. Mike D’Antoni is not that desperate. Yet.
Lakers fans have been dreaming up ways to shake up a lackluster team and some latched on to the leaked idea of Pau Gasol as a sixth man when he returns from rest to heal up his knee tendonitis.
Mike D’Antoni isn’t there yet, as reported by Dave McMenamin at ESPNLA.com.
“Not yet, that’s not what we need to be doing right now,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of the possibility of using Gasol in a sixth man role. “We need to find him and Steve (Nash) in there together and look at it and make a good assessment. I envision him being really good at what he does at the four, so I don’t see that.”
“I’m not going to mess with Pau,” D’Antoni said. “He’s too important to the team and he’s earned it and he’s too good of a player to even go there. That would be a last resort kind of desperate (move).”
I understand where D’Antoni is coming from — he wants to see what it looks like when Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard all share the court.
But with the team 9-12 there is not a lot of patience in Lakers nation. And bad knees or no it was clear Gasol was uncomfortable in D’Antoni’s offense.
Gasol could come back during the Lakers four-game road trip this week, he has missed four games and gotten rest and treatment. He’ll try moving on the court again soon and see how he feels, D’Antoni said. There is no timetable yet for Nash, who has missed 19 games and could be back this week from his broken leg. Or not. Nobody knows.
But once he does, maybe then we will see what D’Antoni envisions. If it doesn’t work quickly, don’t be shocked if the “Gasol off the bench” talk resurfaces.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.