Lakers Q&A: Rick Fox believes Lakers’ rebuilding could come at expense of Kobe Bryant winning another title

Kobe Bryant shakes hands with his old teammate and current NBA TV reporter Rick Fox. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kobe Bryant shakes hands with his old teammate and current NBA TV reporter Rick Fox. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

Here is a more depressing picture for Lakers fans than seeing Kobe Bryant sitting on the sidelines this season while watching his undermanned team experienced yet another double-digit defeat.

The Lakers field so many questions pertaining to Mike D’Antoni’s head-coaching future, how they use their first-round pick and if Bryant can fully recover from two significant left Achilles tendon and left knee injuries that sidelined him last season for all but six games. Amid all that uncertainty entails something that could prove hard for Bryant to stomach. The Lakers’ rebuilding effort may not happen fast enough for Bryant to win his sixth NBA championship before his contract expires following the 2015-16 season.

Below is part two of my transcript with NBA TV analyst Rick Fox, the former three-time NBA champion with the Lakers who touched on that issue, the Lakers’ rebuilding era earlier this decade and why it might be hard to convince players to take a significant paycut to join the Lakers as he willingly did (You can read part one here).


What biggest question mark do you have about the Lakers’ rebuilding effort this offseason?

Kobe only competes for championships. That’s all he’s ever known. The biggest question mark is can they put together a roster heading into next season that is truly capable of competing for a championship. Knowing that Kobe is already impatient, my biggest question mark is I don’t know how patient Kobe can be or will be with the plan to get back to true Laker form. How do they balance the two. How do they balance the two? How do they balance rebuilding the Lakers at the pace that they seem to be patiently waiting for and executing the last three years versus putting Kobe in his last remaining years in a position to chase number six. One is going to be sacrificed.
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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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