Mike D'Antoni's future uncertain
SAN ANTONIO -- The Los Angeles Lakers played their final game of the worst season in franchise history on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, a 113-100 win. Will it also be the final game of Mike D'Antoni's tenure with the team?
The coach says his future is still undetermined.
"The next step will be to sit down with Jim [Buss] and all them and Mitch [Kupchak] at the end of the year and talk things out, see where things are," D'Antoni said after shootaround Wednesday morning.
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D'Antoni is scheduled to have his exit interview with team management Friday. He has one year remaining on his contract worth $4 million, plus the Lakers have an option for the following season. Kupchak, the team's general manager, told USA Today last week that no decision has been made about retaining D'Antoni.
"No. No," Kupchak said. "In fact, I told Jimmy, let's get to the end [of the] season, take some time off ... then review the season."
While Kupchak preached patience, D'Antoni said he was unaware of any extended timeline for a decision on his fate.
"We haven't talked," D'Antoni said. "So that will be done in the next couple days and then we'll just see."
Guard Nick Young, who has the inauspicious distinction of being the team's leading scorer in such a lackluster year, said D'Antoni didn't have a chance to succeed.
"I think he handled everything well," Young said. "He came in on a bad situation -- getting picked over Phil Jackson. He already had a target on his back. So I think he handled all that well. From the boos and 'Fire D'Antoni!' I think he still comes in here with a smile and you can't ask for nothing more from Mike D'Antoni."
Low Point For Lakers
The Lakers will finish this season with their second-worst win percentage in franchise history, and will have a top-nine draft pick for the first time since 1982.
Worst Win Pct in Lakers Franchise History
|--ESPN Stats & Information|
No matter what happens against the Spurs, the Lakers (27-55) have already assured themselves the worst season in the 66-year history of the franchise. When asked what he would remember about the season, D'Antoni replied, "Nothing," in deadpan fashion before elaborating.
"You forge individual relationships that have been great," D'Antoni said. "Watching Robert [Sacre] improve, or the personality of Nick and Ryan [Kelly]. There's a lot. I could go through the whole thing, I just went with a few guys, but those are the things that you remember.
"I think about any season, you remember your relationships ... I remember some great memories with guys and moments that we've had."
D'Antoni will try to forget the injuries. Both Steve Nash (hamstring) and Chris Kaman (right calf strain) were ruled out of the finale, meaning that the Lakers will finish out the season with just nine healthy players.
The coach said the injuries to Kobe Bryant, who played in just six games because of a torn Achilles and a fractured left knee, and Nash, who was able to play just 15 games because of nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings, hurt the most.
"The season was kind of summed up halfway through the year when Kobe went down with his broken leg and Nash couldn't quite ever get back," D'Antoni said. "We needed those two guys to be at a high level. Especially in the West."
D'Antoni pointed to the Phoenix Suns missing the playoffs despite winning 47 games as evidence of the small margin for error in the Western Conference.
"You just don't [say], 'Oh look, you wind up playing a good month,' and you wind up making the playoffs. That doesn't work in the West. You got to play great all year, and we just didn't have the traction because of the injuries."
Even with all the drama that last season's Lakers had with Bryant and Dwight Howard vying for control of the team, D'Antoni said he preferred it to the constant defeats he's endured this season.
"Last year was better because you legitimately had a chance to win every night, and sometimes you're up against it [this season] that no matter how good you play and how well things went that you really didn't have a shot to win a lot of times," D'Antoni said.
D'Antoni credited the players for banding together through it all "without much support" when they could have given up long ago.
"We couldn't get any traction because we couldn't get the same starting lineup for four, five games in a row," D'Antoni said. "And when you do that, then guys are in different roles and asked to do different things, and that's not fair to them. So, to me, that's where the season went sideways. I thought the guys ... played hard all the way through. They tried to be competitive as much they could. And a couple nights it didn't happen. But I can't fault their effort or their mental approach to the game."