EL SEGUNDO — After the initial pleasantries and well wishes over becoming the Lakers’ new head coach, Mike D’Antoni heard one important message from interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
“I told him hurry up and get in here and take this seat so I can get some of these microphones out of my face.,” Bickerstaff said following the Lakers’ practice Monday here at the team’s practice facility.
If only if it were so easy.
D’Antoni can’t fly over to Los Angeles until he receives medical clearance from doctor after having knee replacement surgery at the beginning of November, according to league sources. When contacted late Sunday night, one source close to D’Antoni not authorized to speak publicly indicated that confirmation could happen within the next day or two.
That means Bickerstaff will coach the Lakers (3-4) when they host the San Antonio Spurs (6-1) Tuesday at Staples Center. That will mark his Bickerstaff’s third game as interim head coach since Mike Brown’s firing on Friday following a 1-4 start. Meanwhile, Bickerstaff’s introductory press conference could be as early as Wednesday, according to a Lakers source, but it’s likely it will be later.
“We talked about basketball,” Bickerstaff said regarding his message to the Lakers. “I’m sure they’re all aware of Mike’s history and what he’s done and we have a guy in Steve Nash and he can convey anything they need to know.”
Nash played four seasons and collected two NBA MVPS when he played for D’Antoni with the Phoenix Suns (2004-08). But Nash sharing any words of wisdom would have to be put on hold. He missed Monday’s practice so he could receive additional treatment on his fractured left leg.
As far as D’Antoni’s health concerns, a source indicated he needs that medical clearance to travel. Because of that uncertainty, the Lakers don’t have a definitive timetable on when D’Antoni would first coach, let alone have his introductory press conference. That’s why Bickerstaff spent plenty of his conversation with D’Antoni filling him on the Lakers’ practice preparation. Bickerstaff also said he didn’t broach the topic on whether he could join D’Antoni’s coaching staff.
“We didn’t talk about that,” Bickerstaff said. “We talked about a lot of things concerning basketball and how long it will take for his knee to heal. I’m interested in that. At my age, that could be around the corner.”
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