At the conclusion of the Lakers morning practice session, coach Mike D’Antoni addressed several questions centered around the impact of what a full training camp will do for the team. D’Antoni has yet to determine who will start alongside Gasol and Nash (should Kobe Bryant not be ready for the season opener). But with a full training camp to implement the system he never was able to fully use last season, D’Antoni remains optimistic of what the team will be able to accomplish in the days leading to the season opener. Below are his comments:
Q: On the biggest thing he’s trying to accomplish during the preseason:
D’Antoni: The biggest thing is trying to put in everything we do. We try to teach them everything first and then we’ll break it down each day. Yesterday was just devoted to how we want to play offensively and defensively, and today we’ll start breaking down segments of it.
Q: On the two-a-day practices the Lakers will hold during training camp:
D’Antoni: The mornings are used to teach them and a lot of individual shooting. At night, we’ll do a lot of scrimmaging.
Q: On not having Gasol and Nash out on the floor considering what they’re trying to accomplish:
D’Antoni: Pau (Gasol) was out there yesterday. I just won’t let him and Steve Nash do two-a-days. They know what we’re trying to do. They were in the film room. I jus didn’t want them to push it early. They could have gone if they needed to.
Q: On how much of what he is implementing now repetition of last year and how much is new:
D’Antoni: Most of it we didn’t get to because we didn’t have any basics last year. We told them the whole course last year but we couldn’t break it down. These guys have been going 90 percent for the last month and a half of what the little things we’re doing now, so it’s pretty smooth and they’re pretty far along.
Q: On the similarities and differences of what he will be running with this team as opposed to what he did in Phoenix:
D’Antoni: Everything is going to be the same we did in Phoenix. We might do it a different speed. That speed is determined by the players, which is fine, but the basic principles are all the same. We’re moving the ball, getting wide-open shots, and hopefully we make it.
Q: On how difficult it is to implement everything with certain players out:
D’Antoni: We don’t. We don’t have them out. Pau and Steve are going to do everything. They’re only going to miss stuff they don’t need to do. Kobe is the only one out and we don’t know when he’ll be back.
Q: On monitoring Nash’s minutes:
D’Antoni: I don’t know if it’s him missing games every once in awhile instead of (limiting) minutes, so we’ll have to figure that out. But you can’t expect him to play 35 minutes for 82 games. We’ll start from there and we’ll see where we go. We’ll build him up and some games he’ll play more, and some games he’ll play less. Some games he’ll take a break so we’ll see.
Q: On playing Steve Blake alongside Nash at shooting guard:
D’Antoni: We’ll see. That’s what preseason is for, to determine who will start. There’s a lot of guys battling for time and positions. Steve is going to be a big part of it no matter what he does, and we’ll see if that means starting. But there’s no reason why he wouldn’t start, but there’s also some other guys who might have something to say about it.
Q: On who he sees playing alongside Pau Gasol this season:
D’Antoni: Pau can play anywhere. He can play with (Chris) Kaman, he can play with Jordan (Hill), he can play with Shawne Williams, he can play with a stretch four or big four. Whether it’s four or five, in our system, it doesn’t mean anything. Kaman can make 15-foot jump shots or Pau can post up. Pau can make 15-foot jump shots or Kaman can post up. They’re a pretty good complement.
Q: On if it’s harder to build a team concept with guys on one-year deals:
D’Antoni: Actually I think it’s easier because we have good guys that know they won’t have success without the help of the other guys. So they’re very attentive in what we’re doing and they’re trying to buy in. It’s really good. We have a bunch of good guys. Whether they’re on their last year or not, they’re coming to play because they love to play basketball, and you can see it in them. It’s a nice atmosphere.
Q: On the team chemistry/vibe of the guys around now:
D’Antoni: Oh yeah, you’d have to ask the guys. But Steve Nash told me it’s a little bit different. I said: “Yeah, it feels different.”
Q: On what has stood out to him the first two days of training camp:
D’Antoni: Our shooting is a lot better. Our shooting is much better. Steve Blake has been playing unbelievable, Wes Johnson’s length and athleticism and Nick Young’s ability to score. There’s been a lot of good stuff. We just have to put it all together.