Mike D’Antoni seemed insistent on quickly making his Lakers debut.
But then Lakers trainer Gary Vitti convinced him otherwise, alerting him about the dangers in rushing back too quickly after having recent knee replacement surgery. Hence, D’Antoni postponed his coaching debut when the Lakers host the Houston Rockets tonight at Staples Center.
“I don’t want to be a sideshow,” D’Antoni said. “One, these are important games at home. Two, the energy could be waning toward the end.”
D’Antoni said he hopes to coach the Lakers Tuesday against Brooklyn or Wednesday at Sacramento. That all hinges though on well his energy level holds up and how quickly he can pace the sideline. The Lakers are also concerned about players accidentally running into D’Antoni on the sideline.
D’Antoni’s absence further prolonged Bernie Bickerstaff’s status as the interim coach. He has gone 3-1 since the Lakers fired Mike Brown Nov. 9 following a 1-4 start. Regardless of when he returns, D’Antoni said he plans to retain Bickerstaff as one of his assistants. He then added, “unless he loses tonight.”
D’Antoni planned to watch the game with his injured point guards Steve Nash (fractured left leg) and Steve Blake (lower abdomen) from the Lakers’ locker room while receiving treatment.
“It was the smart thing to do,” D’Antoni said. “I’m a little disappointed. I got out there ahead of myself saying I could be this weekend and we ran with today. I wanted it to be, but I’m not quite ready yet.”
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