Lakers GM meets with Mike D'Antoni
After a series of discussions following a stretch of historically bad losses this week, the Los Angeles Lakers do not believe an in-season coaching change will help the team and remain inclined to support Mike D'Antoni over the final 19 games of the season, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.
The Lakers have endured one of the most tumultuous seasons in franchise history, with injuries to future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, constant tension between D'Antoni and forward Pau Gasol, the in-season trade of veteran point guard Steve Blake and numerous other injuries to key players.
While there is disappointment and frustration at the Lakers' abysmal 21-42 record, general manager Mitch Kupchak has maintained a strong relationship with D'Antoni and has appreciated the job he's done in keeping the team together and competitive on most nights.
Shortly after Thursday night's 48-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Kupchak met separately with D'Antoni and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss to discuss the state of the team, sources told ESPN on Friday.
D'Antoni confirmed the meeting with Kupchak, characterizing it as "normal" before the Lakers played the Denver Nuggets on Friday.
"We just went over stuff and said, 'Well, we didn't play very well,'" D'Antoni said.
D'Antoni did not provide much additional information when asked about specifics of their conversation.
"I don't remember, to be honest with you," he said. "It wasn't anything out of the ordinary other than just talking about different performances, and that's about it."
D'Antoni also addressed the team on Friday.
"We talked and tried to get guys to understand where we are and what we have to do, and they'll respond," D'Antoni said. "Like I said, they're good guys. It's not like you go out and you [overreact]. I think everybody lays an egg, and we laid an egg. We just got to push it aside and go forward."
The Lakers lost to the Nuggets, 134-126, on Friday in the second night of a back-to-back and will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon. After that, Los Angeles travels to Oklahoma City and San Antonio for a back-to-back next Thursday and Friday, respectively.
The Lakers have been without Bryant for all but six games this season while Nash has played in just 10 games. Both are unlikely to play again this season.
However, the Lakers have positioned themselves to chase one of the marquee players who could become free agents this summer. They planned to evaluate D'Antoni, like all coaches, after the season, sources said.
The historically bad loss to the Clippers on Thursday caused Kupchak to check in with D'Antoni and the rest of Lakers management to discuss whether there was anything that could be done to get the team back on track, but the first inclination was not to make a coaching change, sources said.