Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni addressed assembled media members during the Lakers annual media day. He gave his thoughts on his expectations for the team on offense, monitoring Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash’s minutes during the year, what he expects from Jordan Farmar and what a full training camp and preseason will do for the coaching staff and the players. Below is a transcription of his comments:
Q: On how this team will look on offense:
D’Antoni: Every team has a level of running that we do. We will find that level and stick with it. We have guys we can go big and we can go small, we have a lot of guys that can go down the floor. We can play at a little more up-tempo game. I think the biggest thing is that Pau will be in the center a lot more, which is his more natural position. He can play anywhere, but he’s a devastating center in the league, and always has been. He can get back to his natural position more times. Our bench is strong and we have a lot more depth than last year. We got point guards – not only Steve Nash and Steve Blake, but we’ve added (Jordan) Farmar, so that’s better. There’s a lot of good things that can happen and we’re excited about the possibilities, and (we’ll) try to overachieve.
Q: On what he’s looking for in Jordan Farmar this year:
D’Antoni: We were lucky to get someone of that quality who has been here before, that knows how to play in the city and the bright lights, someone who is extremely talented and who has gotten better over the years, and has won two championships. There’s a lot of reasons why we wanted him, and we added more depth. There’s a lot of guys at that position, there’s a lot of guys that need to play and want to play, but it all seems to work out, and I think he’s excited to be in here, and I’m excited to have him.
Q: On managing Kobe’s minutes whether that be in practices and games:
D’Antoni: Well, practice is not hard. The games are a little bit tougher. Like we do all the time, we’ll sit down and talk and see how he feels. Gary (Vitti) will (take care) of the medical side of it and then make a decision together. He has a big voice in it. He’s earned that right, he knows his body better than anybody. We will try to get him to be prudent about it and make sure that we’re doing the right thing, but again, you’re not commanding anybody to do anything. You sit down and try to work with people, and try to find the best rhythm for him.
Q: On the lowered expectations this year:
D’Antoni: Yeah, the expectations are down. Obviously we have some question marks. That’s why people either put us down at 12th like ESPN. That happens. It doesn’t really affect what we do or our mindset. Our mindset is to overachieve and to build this team as strong as it can (be). In the NBA, everybody has talent. You don’t get to the NBA unless you’re a talented basketball player. We have a lot of talent on this team. Hopefully we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. I’m sure Steve Nash , Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, the question mark is one’s coming back form injury, one’s older, one’s this, one’s that, but you don’t find any better players in there. Let’s just try to get them healthy, keep them healthy and then see what happens.
Q: On how much different it’ll be with Pau at center as opposed to Dwight:
D’Antoni: You know. You just look at it. It’ll be different. Pau is probably the best offensive center in the league and the most talented big guy in the league. All of a sudden, he’s in his natural position where he’ll feel good about it. We’ll have to collectively defend better as a team. There’s a lot of things we’ll change and hopefully for the better.
Q: On the seriousness of Kobe’s injury and how he sees him adjusting his game when he comes back:
D’Antoni: I don’t think anybody knows. He doesn’t even know. He won’t know until he gets back on the court and we see it. It’ll be something we watch day to day. Hopefully there’s no adjustment. Hopefully he’s the same before it happened but I guarantee he will find a way to be effective. What that is, we’ll see.
Q: On limiting Steve Nash’s minutes during the season:
D’Antoni: We’ll talk about it. We’ll see how he feels. Obviously we have to do something there, whether it’s back to backs or whether it’s a little bit more limited per game, something when we get through camp, and see where he is physically, then we’ll make those decisions going forward.
Q: On whether he expects Kobe to be ready for any preseason games:
D’Antoni: I am not expecting it. He’s going to try everything he can to get back as soon as he can. I don’t think there’s a timetable or day. I have no idea. Nobody knows. He’s just going to take it day by day and try to get it better. Doctors will let him know and he’ll let them know.
Q: On whether Kobe is starting to run now:
D’Antoni: He’s running on the AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill. He might be running at 80 percent of his weight. I don’t know.
Q: On whether it’ll be difficult to have the rest of the team to buy into the system with Kobe’s return uncertain:
D’Antoni: I don’t think it’s a problem for them to buy in. They’re more excited because there’s more room for them to play. They’re excited for it and we know how important Kobe is. As a player, you have a unique opportunity to show or do. They’re excited about attacking the season, and we know Kobe will be back, and we can’t wait till it happens.
Q: On if he’ll be surprised at what level Kobe comes back:
D’Antoni: Maybe the level with anybody. But not when or how. The thing is it doesn’t matter if he does or not. We can’t control that. He’s going to do everything he can to come back as soon as he can, and at the best level he can, so we’ll have to see how that unfolds.
Q: On the health of Steve Nash, and whether he’s 100 percent:
D’Antoni: You have to ask him, but I think so. He said he was 100 percent, so he looked good scrimmaging the last few days, so I would think so.
Q: On if he felt like he was able to implement his system last season:
D’Antoni: You just try to find what the team functions better at and we got to a pretty good level at the end. The last month or two I thought our offense was doing OK. Whether it was the way I liked to play or not is irrelevant. We’re going to have to play to the strengths of the team and get them to be efficient as they can. Every team has a rhythm they run to. Whether I like to run a little faster or not, it doesn’t really matter. It’s what the players can do, and we will adjust to find their strengths, and go with that rhythm.
Q: On what it will be like having a full training camp and preseason for the team:
D’Antoni: The difference is we don’t have to hunt and peck and go through people’s personalities and figure out what gets them going and what doesn’t. It’s been a month since we’ve been with the players. You also find out what works and what doesn’t not when they’re putting up W’s and L’s; it’s during preseason and you try different things without getting clobbered because you lost the game. It’s a natural process that’s going to take 30-40 days to figure out how to play the team the best we can at the level we need to play.