Mike D’Antoni believes his coaching stint with the Los Angeles Lakers could have gone a lot better if his players stayed healthy and fully committed to his run-and-gun system. The Houston Rockets mentor and Coach of the Year frontrunner reminisced his tumultuous LA days in an interview with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles.
Four years before transforming the Rockets to a 55-win team and legit title contender, D’Antoni was struggling to keep the star-studded yet injury-marred Lakers afloat. The Lakers, who was then consists of a collection of All-Stars (#Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol), underachieved in an epic way as they ended up with a 40-32 slate and a first-round clash with the no.2 seed San Antonio Spurs..
The Lakers were no match against the veteran Spurs in four games, especially without Bryant who suffered a season-ending Achilles heel injury that year. Despite the departure of Dwight Howard, D’Antoni somehow kept the job the next season but injuries continued to hamper an already depleted squad. Finally, after finishing with 27-55 slate, D’Antoni resigned from his post in the summer of 2014.
What went wrong?
D’Antoni pointed out injuries and the lack of trust by some of his players as factors behind his underwhelming Lakers stint. He believes the Lakers could have gained a lot more during his tenure if his key players like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash stayed healthy and they fully bought into his fast-paced offensive system.
“There were just injuries, and people were pretty stubborn in their roles, and it’s like ‘sorry guys, this is not me. It’s not going to work right here,'” D’Antoni said of his tenure with the Lakers in the Q&A with Shelburne..
Brighter future with the Rockets
The Rockets shocked the world after firing Kevin McHale just several months after the head coach led the team to the Western Conference finals. J. B. Bickerstaff ascended into the head coaching ranks in an interim role, but the Rockets eventually let loose of the coach after a 37-34 finish and a first round exit at the hands of the Warriors. After a thorough coaching search, Houston pulled off a gambit by hiring D’Antoni, who is viewed by many writers and colleagues as an ‘offensive genius’ but lacks the defensive chops to lead the team to a title.
D’Antoni is about to change that perception this year as he looks to prove that his fast-paced high-octane offense yields championship with a terrific talent in James Harden. He actually believes Harden, who averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.2 rebounds during the regular-season, is the perfect player to his system. That has been the case in the postseason so far, as the Rockets took a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. #Mike D'Antoni #Lakers Rumors