NBA TV, ESPN analysts assess what Lakers, Kobe Bryant need in next head coach

Former Lakers star James Worthy said recently that Kobe Bryant “absolutely” must be consulted about the team's coaching hire, adding that anytime the star player is excluded, it has been a problem. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file)

Former Lakers star James Worthy said recently that Kobe Bryant “absolutely” must be consulted about the team’s coaching hire, adding that anytime the star player is excluded, it has been a problem. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file)

Below are interviews with ESPN analyst Avery Johnson and NBA TV Stu Jackson on what the Lakers need in their next head coach:

On what the Lakers should look for in their next coach

Johnson: The head coach that is hired in L.A., it has to be somebody that is a consensus in terms of this is the guy that we want. When I say, we, I mean the Lakers family. The Buss family, Mitch Kupchak, Kobe Bryant and the players and the fans. I think it has to be consensus in terms of there’s no second guessing and shouldn’t be any bad publicity or negative reaction in terms of the next head coach hired by the Lakers. It has to be a situation where everybody feels good about it. That’s something that can be sold to the fans. More than anything, that’s something the players that will be on the team next year will easily buy into.

Jackson: Given where the Lakers are currently, what they’re going to look for in a coach will be somewhat determined by where they plan to go from a personnel standpoint. They potentially have some cap space to add another big piece or two. After figuring out their personnel, they have to make a determination of what they want their team to look like from a personality standpoint and a skill standpoint and complementary standpoint in respects to Kobe Bryant and what after they make that determination skill wise, what’s that system going to look like?

What candidates come to mind?

Johnson:
Steve Kerr and I spent a lot of time in San Antonio with guys who either became coaches or executives like Danny Ferry and Vinny Del Negro. I know what a great basketball mind Steve Kerr has. If there is anybody from having NBA head coaching experience, I think he can do it. He has strong instincts. He really sees the game in a way, especially offensively that the game needs to be played with freedom and movement and organization and creativity. Steve is an engaging guy with a Seinfeld sense of humor. That helps for a long 82 game season.”


Jackson:
I can’t reemphasize the point enough that who their coach is going to be will be based on Mitch Kupchak’s and the organization’s view of how they’re going to compose their team going forward from a skills standpoint, personality standpoint and a mindset given that they still have Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant.

When you understand what your team is potentially going to look like from a personnel standpoint, then you can start to at least formulate what the qualities are in terms of the coaches that you plan to have lead that group. The good news is they have somewhat of a blank canvas.

To what degree should Bryant have a role in deciding the Lakers’ next coach?


Johnson:
There has to be a combination of both and communication with Kobe Bryant in terms of where they are. A lot of that depends on what kind of free agents they can attract. If they don’t attract any level 1 free agents, if they get a level 2 guy, the expectations probably are going to have to be toned down a little bit because they won’t be a championship caliber team.

He is a challenge. But at the same time, there are a lot of coaches sitting on the sidelines right now that would love to have an opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant. There are a lot of coaches who take a flight to LA to have an opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant even if it is in the twilight of his career with his professionalism, work ethic and championship pedigree. A lot of guys would love to have an opportunity to help him go out on top.”

Jackson:
“I subscribe to what Kobe Bryant has told everyone in that he is a player and he will play. Being as great of a player that he is, Kobe Bryant can play with anyone. I think what Kobe Bryant, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, I think what he’s saying is that I play and I can play with anyone but I’m riding the faith that my teammates are going to fit together and there’s a philosophy there that we can work on and be productive. I think that’s what he’s saying. I don’t think he’s saying I have to be involved.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Pau Gasol says Mike D’Antoni’s departure is not “be-all, end-all” in affecting his free agency

Lakers forward Pau Gasol talks about the disappointing season and his future following his Lakers exit interview at their training facility in El Segundo, CA on Thursday, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Lakers forward Pau Gasol talks about the disappointing season and his future following his Lakers exit interview at their training facility in El Segundo, CA on Thursday, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

As much as he wanted to remain with the Lakers, Pau Gasol experienced frustrations that went beyond trade speculation and persistent losing.

Gasol also experienced philosophical differences with Mike D’Antoni, whose resignation last week ended a two-year run in which Gasol disliked his system that made him into more of a stretch forward instead of a post player. Yet, Gasol downplayed whether that automatically ensures he will re-sign with the Lakers once he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“Mike leaving was not the be-all and end-all, but it is another factor,” Gasol told Marca.com, a publication in his native Spain. “What is certain is that we are without a coach and I say ‘we’ because I’m still thinking of myself as a Lakers player.”
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Ryan Kelly believes he can still thrive outside of Mike D’Antoni’s system

The Lakers' Ryan Kelly and Nick Young celebrate a shot late in the 4th quarter The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Lakers 120 to 118 in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center. Los Angeles, CA January 14, 2014.(John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Lakers’ Ryan Kelly and Nick Young celebrate a shot late in the 4th quarter The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Lakers 120 to 118 in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center. Los Angeles, CA January 14, 2014.(John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

As he ascended from a low-level second round pick into a fixture onto the Lakers rotation, rookie forward Ryan Kelly attributed a key variable that explained such growth.

Oh, Kelly overcame a right foot injury that kept him out the entire 2013 offseason and parts of training camp. His basketball IQ made up for some of his physical shortcomings. Kelly’s work ethic expedited his learning curve. But he also credited Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system that puts a high value on so-called stretch forwards that can both shoot and space the floor tapping into that specific skillset.

Yet, despite D’Antoni’s resignation this week stemmed from the Lakers’ refusal to assure they would exercise his team option for the 2015-16 season, Kelly expressed confidence that he could still thrive in another system.

“I think I can play in multiple styles of offenses,” Kelly told this newspaper. “Obviously Coach D’Antoni is more spread out and that’s what I’m going to be, more of a stretch four. But I showed the ability to handle the ball and put the ball on the floor. Teams will always need somebody who can shoot. For guys my size, I can fit into any system.”
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TNT’s Charles Barkley criticizes Magic Johnson’s tweet about Mike D’Antoni’s resignation

EL SEGUNDO - 02/19/13 - (Photo: Scott Varley, Los Angeles Newspaper Group)  At the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, Lakers players and staff reflect on the passing of long-time owner Dr. Jerry Buss.

EL SEGUNDO – 02/19/13 – (Photo: Scott Varley, Los Angeles Newspaper Group)
At the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, Lakers players and staff reflect on the passing of long-time owner Dr. Jerry Buss.

Charles Barkley offered some harsh words surrounding Mike D’Antoni’s resignation as the Lakers’ coach.

Unlike most of those that tweet, leave comments on message boards or call the radio airwaves, Barkley wasn’t among the many piling on D’Antoni for his two tumultuous seasons with the purple and gold. Instead, Barkley took directly aim at a player he once teamed up with on the 1992 Dream Team.

“Magic Johnson is bigger than that,” Barkely said Wednesday night on TNT. “Mike D”Antoni is a good coach. They didn’t give him a lot to work with.”
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Mike D’Antoni seeking assurances Lakers will exercise team option

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center,  El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18,  2014.  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center, El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18, 2014.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Although the Lakers have been leaning for the past month toward retaining Mike D’Antoni as their head coach, he has been trying to seek assurances recently that the team will exercise his team option to stay for the 2015-16 season, according to a league source familiar with the discussions.

Ever since D’Antoni talked with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak last Friday during the team’s designated exit meetings, this newspaper reported that D’Antoni hoped the Lakers would provide this promise to eliminate having lame-duck status next season. The issue has since been raised to the Lakers, which are currently reluctant to decide definitively whether D’Antoni would coach through the two years left on his contract, according to a league source.

The Lakers have not met with D’Antoni since the exit meetings, though he is hopeful that a meeting will be scheduled sometime within the next week.

D’Antoni has one guaranteed season left on his contract worth $4 million. The Lakers then hold a $4 million team option for the 2015-16 campaign.

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Lakers, Mike D’Antoni to meet again in a couple weeks to assess future

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers Q&A: NBA TV’s Rick Fox believes Lakers will keep Mike D’Antoni

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center,  El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18,  2014.  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center, El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18, 2014.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Two prevailing themes emerged throughout my recent half hour phone interview with NBA TV analyst Rick Fox.

The Lakers have too many question marks heading into this offseason, including who they will draft, who they can acquire via free agency, which of the team’s 12 free agents will stay next season and how Kobe Bryant will recover next season. The Lakers also will have to decide what they will do with coach Mike D’Antoni, who has yet to meet with the front office since last week’s exit meetings. With each day that passes, Fox believes that means D’Antoni’s job appears more and more secure despite overseeing the Lakers (27-55) worst mark in L.A. franchise history.

Below is part one of my transcript with Fox, the former three-time NBA champion with the Lakers who touched on nearly everything pertaining to the purple and gold.

Do you think Mike D’Antoni will be the Lakers’ head coach next season?

Fox: (laughs). If they were to do something, they would have done it already. He has the confidence of the owners and Mitch Kupchak. It was a difficult year. That’s clearly evident to all. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they see Mike as fully responsible for the breakdown physically of the team and the roster that lost Dwight Howard. With their plan for the future, they seem to be planning to rebuild this offseason. It’s very clear to me, and they expressed that, that they want to spend their money down the line. In spending money down the line, such free agents I’m sure will have questions about who their coach is going to be and even want a voice in that. I don’t know how you turn around and hire a new coach right now when a year from now you’re going to be addressing the same situation.

How do you evaluate how Mike did this year?

Fox: Some would say he did an admirable job amid the chaos. It’s just hard for Lakers fans to see or endorse a season that happened last year. It’s so uncharacteristic of the organization to be faced with such challenges. But if you really look at the history, it’s once or twice before and the turnaround has been quick. The challenges to do that may be different than they were then with the salary cap and the way the league operates now. But only time will tell.

From a system approach, Mike’s system has an entertaining quality to it, but it also has its critics. If he had won a championship at this point, maybe it wouldn’t be so maligned. In that regard, it puts him in the firing line. It’s a lot easier to take shots at him. But at the end of the day, I don’t know if any coach put in the same position would have been able to do better. They likely would have done the same thing, if not worse.
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Mike D’Antoni optimistic he will return next season

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center,  El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18,  2014.  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center, El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18, 2014.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Despite overseeing the Lakers’ worst record in franchise history since moving to Los Angeles, coach Mike D’Antoni expressed optimism he will return next season.

“I have one or two years left and I’m their coach,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll sit down and see if everybody is in good shape. It hasn’t been done yet.”

Click below the jump for the other bullet points:
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Mike D’Antoni downplays refuted rumor that John Calipari will coach Lakers

This appeared to provide a temporary distraction from the Lakers’ failed season, their uncertain future and their mostly unwatchable games. Instead, the NCAA men’s basketball championship game between Kentucky and Florida soon morphed into another reminder about all of those elements.

Former Kentucky star Rex Chapman tweeted that Wildcats coach John Calipari would coach the Lakers regardless of the game’s outcome, a Huskies’ 60-54 victory. The Lakers immediately refuted the rumor, saying that Mike D’Antoni remains the team’s head coach. And the man who has spent the past two seasons fielding an injury-decimated roster, mixed enthusiasm for his fast-paced system and mostly non-existent support from a restless fanbase, D’Antoni tried to shrug it all off.

“Don’t worry about it,” D’Antoni said. “It is what it is. That’s the world we live in where before three years ago, there was a rumor one person heard. Now a million hear it.”
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Mike D’Antoni downplays ESPN report that Marshall reached out to him to coach

MILWAUKEE — Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni let out an exasperated sigh, and it actually didn’t involve the 108-105 loss Thursday to the Milwaukee Bucks here at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

D’Antoni was asked to address an ESPN.com report that said Marshall reached out to him to assess his interest in coaching his alma mater.

“Come on, guys,” D’Antoni said. “Come on. OK, good. That ESPN is all over it. That’s good.”

Marshall recently fired Tom Herrion, who had a 67-67 mark in four seasons. Has D’Antoni recently talked with any Marshall representatives?

“I hear from them all the time,” D’Antoni said. “I’m the head of their capital [fundraising] campaign. I’m close friends to them. Whatever they need, I try to do. But who knows.”
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