Mike D’Antoni on his future with Lakers: ‘It’s not for me to decide’

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The Lakers have many decisions to make this summer, once one of the worst seasons in the history of the franchise has finally reached its merciful conclusion.

One of the more interesting ones comes at the head coaching position, where Mike D’Antoni currently sits.

No head coach would have had a chance with the amount of injuries sustained by this season’s roster, which have reached comical proportions now that Kent Bazemore has become the latest player to go down with a season-ending injury.

But the fact remains that this year’s record occurred on D’Antoni’s watch, and there are many fans in Los Angeles who want to see a change made simply to give the franchise a fresh start. It isn’t that simple, however, and D’Antoni knows that whatever decision is set to be made, it’s completely out of his hands.

From Sam Amick of USA Today:

“Well, I think after the year is over, we’ll sit down with management and see where they’re going, see where they’re headed, and it’s up for them to decide,” D’Antoni said. “It’s not for me to decide.” …

No final decision has been made on either side – no matter how many times this storied franchise’s insatiable fan base has called for his head. But as D’Antoni made clear, he’s at peace with whichever direction this situation goes.

“Hey look, this is a great place,” D’Antoni said. “Any player who has a destination of L.A. – it’s pretty good. I’ve been lucky to be here. I don’t want to say, ‘Oh yeah (I’ll be back),’ but I don’t know. And I’m sure that everybody is going to have to sit down and figure it out.”

D’Antoni has one year and $4 million remaining on his contract, an amount that the Lakers would need to pay him regardless of whether or not they retain him as coach for next season.

One school of thought says that D’Antoni got maximum effort out of the players who were healthy enough to play for the most part, but then there are the communication issues with veterans like Chris Kaman, along with Kobe Bryant supposedly being less than thrilled with the prospect of playing for D’Antoni in the future.

If the Lakers are going to be nothing more than a borderline playoff team next season with everyone healthy, then it doesn’t really make sense to fire D’Antoni, with the new coach having little chance of attaining loftier levels of success.

But, if L.A. is able to magically revamp its roster through trades or free agency and bring in another All-Star talent to play alongside Bryant, then in that case, hiring a new coach and creating a clean slate — along with some realistically higher expectations — would probably be the best course of action.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.