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.”

D’Antoni played for the Thundering Herd from 1970 to 1973 before being selected in the second round of the 1973 NBA draft to play for the defunct Kansas City-Omaha Kings. D’Antoni eventually played overseas in Italy where he became Olimpia Milano’s all-time leading scorer. D’Antoni’s brother, Dan, also played and coached at the school before serving on Mike’s staffs with both the Suns and Lakers.

But D’Antoni obviously prefers to coach with the Lakers. He has two years left on his contract, though only one of them is guaranteed at $4 million. The Lakers do not plan to evaluate D’Antoni after the season. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has still given D’Antoni a vote of confidence, however, saying last week that “Mike’s done a good job” considering the Lakers’ injury ravaged lineup.

Still, Kobe Bryant has expressed uncertainty on whether D’Antoni should return. D’Antoni has also coached a divided locker room, one in which guards and role players love the freedom behind his system while frontcourt players and veterans balk at his small-ball philosophies.

D’Antoni has only coached professionally, including overseas in Italy as well as the Phoenix Suns (2003-2008), New York Knicks (2008-12) and the Lakers for the past two seasons with a 64-78 record.

“My job is to finish up the year as good as we can, develop these guys, get some consistency in guys,” D’Antoni said recently about his future. “Then everybody huddles at the end of the year, and we see what happens.”


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