EL SEGUNDO — Will tonight’s Lakers-Kings game at Staples Center mark Bernie Bickerstaff’s last day as the Lakers’ interim coach?
His guess is as good as anyone.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about anything,” Bickerstaff said after the Lakers’ morning shootaround here at the team’s practice facility.
Fair enough. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss spent part of their Saturday talking with Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson about replacing the fired Mike Brown in what would be his third stint as the Lakers’ head coach.
“It’s nice to be wanted,” Bickerstaff said dryly.
Bickerstaff has been Brown’s longtime mentor since hiring him as an intern with the Denver Nuggets in 1992. Soon, Brown became the team’s video coordinator and joined Bickerstaff as an assistant in Washington. But Bickerstaff expressed little interest in sharing how Brown’s held up since his firing.
“That’s a private conversation,” Bickerstaff said.
Even amid this uncertainty, Bickerstaff sounded pragmatic. It’s an understandable quality considering he’s had numerous head-coaching, assistant coaching and front office gigs in the NBA.
Given that framework, Bickerstaff expressed appreciation to the team during morning shootaround about its “professionalism” ever since the Brown’s firing Friday following a 1-4 start.
“The guys have been really professional, even with Mike,” Bickerstaff said. “Mike understands that they bought in and tried and gave it their best for him. This has been one of the teams that’s a consummate of professionalism of teams that I’ve ever been around.”
Bickerstaff initially declined to give examples, coyly saying, “Webster could probably explain it a little more than I can.” He then shared that everyone showed up on time and appeared energetic throughout shootaround.
“This is the profession we’ve chosen,” Bickerstaff said. “You understand the consequences going in. You love it. It beats the alternative. Nothing is easy. I haven’t seen any jobs that are easy. There’s a challenge. Everything is a challenge in life. It’s what makes us go and makes us competitive, to step up and surmount the challenge.”
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