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.

Pacers star Victor Oladipo returns from 11-game absence

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When the Pacers ruled Victor Oladipo out indefinitely a couple weeks ago, it seemed gloomy.

But Indiana weathered the storm, going 7-4 without its best player.

Now, Oladipo is back. He started against the Bucks tonight.

I still think the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers and Bucks will comprise the Eastern Conference’s top tier by the end of the season. But the Pacers (17-10, fourth in East) have a chance to crash the party. They acquitted themselves well without Oladipo, and it should get only easier with their offensive focal point/top perimeter defender.

NBA promotes Bulls’ Mexico game with video of their bus bottoming out

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The Bulls will play the Magic in Mexico City tomorrow.

Even amid all Chicago’s problems, that’s still a marquee game for the NBA as it expands its reach globally. So, the league is showcasing Chicago’s trip.

With unintentional hilarity.

NBA:

That sound eight seconds in is Chicago’s season.

Stephen Curry on moon-landing conspiracy: ‘Obviously, I was joking’

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Stephen Curry said he didn’t believe we went to the moon.

That caused an uproar to the point NASA offered him a tour of a lunar lab.

Curry, via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

“One thousand percent,” Curry told ESPN on Wednesday of accepting the invite. “One thousand percent. Obviously I was joking when I was talking on the podcast. I was silently protesting how stupid it was that people actually took that quote and made it law as, ‘Oh my God, he’s a fake moon landing truther,’ whatever you want to call it, yada, yada, yada. So I was silently protesting that part about it, how the story took a life of its own.

“But in terms of the reaction that I’ve gotten, I am definitely going to take [NASA] up on their offer. I am going to educate myself firsthand on everything that NASA has done and shine a light on their tremendous work over the years. And hopefully people understand that education is power, informing yourself is power. For kids out there that hang on every word that we say, which is important, understand that you should not believe something just because somebody says it. You should do your homework and understand what you actually believe. But I’m going to go to NASA and I’m going to enjoy the experience whole-heartedly.”

Curry said he believed we didn’t actually go to the moon. I don’t find it unreasonable people took him at face value. I don’t find it unreasonable people thought he was joking, either. His sincerity was unclear.

I’m glad he set the record straight now.

We obviously went to the moon. There’s no way everyone who would’ve had to help fake the moon landing would have stayed quiet. People don’t keep secrets that well.

As for Curry, he got the NASA invitation and a lot of publicity. But it’s time to move on. Whatever he actually believed a few days ago, Curry has clarified his current view.

That separates him from Kyrie Irving, who also initially delivered a conspiracy theory during a lighthearted podcast segment. But Irving doubled down on his flat-Earth claim in several subsequent interviews.

Curry put this to rest fairly quickly.

Suns owner threatens to move team if city does not spend $150 million on arena upgrades

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The great professional sports team extortion of cities tour has come to Phoenix.

The Suns are pushing a $230 million renovation of their home since 1992, now named the Talking Stick Arena. As part of the deal, the City of Phoenix would pay $150 million from its “Sports Facilities Funds” (the city says that is mainly tourism taxes) and the Suns $80 million plus any cost overruns, and they would build their own new practice facility to free up room in the arena for the changes.

However, spending city resources on a stadium rebuild to enrich Suns owner Robert Sarver has proven unpopular. Understandably. Wednesday, Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams asked to postpone the City Council’s vote on the issue rather than watch the plan go down in defeat, reports the Arizona Republic.

Sarver threatened to move the team if the deal is not ultimately get approved, according to the report:

Whether they get a continuance or not could mark the beginning of a showdown between the city and Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is telling some council members that he will take the team to Seattle or Las Vegas.

This is a favorite tactic of sports teams owners across the country, regardless of the sport — threaten to move the team, hopefully scaring the hardcore fans of the team to back whatever changes they want. Teams often are part of a city’s identity and a local institution, and the owners use that as leverage to get their business demands.

Public money for arena upgrades are in general a flawed used of city resources — there are far more pressing needs for public money than arena renovations. Studies have shown the economic benefits for a city from these arena renovations (or a new arena) are limited at best — it is more a redistribution of where money is spent, pulling it from other areas into a concentrated downtown, than it is generating new income.

That said, standing up to Sarver comes with risks, he could follow through on his threat and try to move the team. Seattle pushed back on spending on upgrades to Key Arena and that is part of — although certainly not all of — why the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. (Then commissioner David Stern liked sending the message that cities should pay up.) Steve Ballmer wants to build a new arena in Southern California for the Clippers, but it would be privately funded (on land he purchased from the City of Inglewood).

The Suns’ lease for the arena currently runs through 2032, however, it could be broken in 2022 if the Suns could prove certain criteria saying the city did not live up to its end of the deal. If the upgrades are made the lease would run through 2037.

If the vote is postponed there will be public hearings to discuss what the money would be used for specifically, and the potential economic impact of the renovations. Postponed seems most likely because the other option is it gets shot down entirely. The council is expected to take the issue up again in January.