Bad news for those Lakers fans who have chosen to scapegoat coach Mike D’Antoni for the Lakers disappointing season:
He’s going to be back next season.
That’s not my opinion, that comes straight from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, speaking to the Los Angeles Times.
“Yeah, he’s back. I think he’s done a great job,” Kupchak told The Times. “There’s been no discussions otherwise.
“He’s made adjustments. He’s been flexible. He’s evaluated how he coaches as the season’s progressed. He’s listened to the players. He’s very easy to work with and we think in particular since the meeting the day of the Memphis game, yeah.”
D’Antoni didn’t get a fair shot this season. Not only did he not get a training camp but also the offensive principles he would want to instill are a radical departure from the measured hybrid-Princeton offense Mike Brown had spent all of training camp putting in place. Then there were the much-discussed injuries — Steve Nash has been out a lot, killing any chance D’Antoni had of implementing his base system, plus there was Pau Gasol and finally Kobe Bryant. Of course, Dwight Howard played but he wasn’t right until near the end of the season.
Some Lakers fans kill D’Antoni because he wasn’t a natural fit for this roster makeup, and because he’s not Phil Jackson. Those complaints really should be directed at management — they hired him knowing full well about the fit.
To D’Antoni’s credit, he has adapted and modified. The Lakers run more standard NBA sets like “horns” than people seem to think. Since Kobe went down there has been a lot of very standard post-entry passing from the wing to Howard. D’Antoni has adjusted.
Bring him back and the Lakers will find a solid offensive identity. And then we can get back to the real questions about these Lakers and this coach — can they defend well enough to be contenders? Can Mike D’Antoni coach them well enough on that end of the floor to be a good defensive team?
He’s going to get a shot at that next season. He’s not going anywhere.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.