Even through the ups and downs surrounding the 2012-13 season, Lakers general manager remained adamant that Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni will coach next season.
“He’s done a wonderful and terrific job this year,” Kupchak said in an interview with this newspaper. “We don’t expect to make any changes.”
D’Antoni went 40-32 in his first season, but the Lakers went 28-12 since the day after the Lakers had a team meeting in Memphis in January.
D’Antoni, 61, has two more guaranteed years worth $8 million and a team option for the 2015-16 season. The Lakers also owe former Coach Mike Brown $6 million over the next two seasons after firing him following a 1-4 start.
Yet, the Lakers’ front office remained publicly supportive of D’Antoni throughout the season.
“There was no training camp,” Kupchak said. “There’s injuries, with no Steve Nash from the get go. And he’s managing a team that went through dramatic changes during the summer. Under the best of circumstances, it takes time.”
Kupchak attributes the Lakers’ late-season turnaround partly because of D’Antoni’s willingness to make adjustments.
“He had it etched in his mind that we were going to play a certain way. He probably couldn’t play the way he thought he would,” Kupchak said. “To his credit, he listened to the players and was flexible. He changed the way he approached our team in the last three months.”
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