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Lakers GM: D’Antoni not problem, players’ effort is

Jan 23, 2013, 1:13 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

Those of you thinking that Mike D’Antoni is the real problem with the Lakers and they should consider a second coaching change this season, you are not going to like this.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak says Mike D’Antoni is not the problem, that the coach is willing to and has modified his system to fit the personnel on the roster.

Speaking with’s Dave McMenamim, Kupchak threw the blame for the Lakers spiral back at the players — and it seems pretty clearly he was talking about Dwight Howard.

“Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike (D’Antoni) as a coach,” Kupchak told in a phone interview Tuesday from Memphis. “I think if you spoke to him, his vision on Day 1 was dramatically different than it is today. It’s the coach’s job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he’s done things and I think that’s what Mike is going through right now is just the process….

“I’m a little bit concerned about our effort,” Kupchak said. “I’d like to see better effort on the court. When the ball is not bouncing your way, when shots aren’t going in, you just can’t seem to get a break, the one thing you can control on the court is your effort and loose balls and running the floor, defending, offensive rebounding. I think back to the Miami game and I have that vision of LeBron (James) diving on that ball at midcourt. That’s effort.”

What else can Kupchak say — he can’t come out publicly and throw his coach under the bus. Or, Buss as the case may be. Kupchak goes on to say there isn’t a magic bullet trade that fixes the Lakers, and he’s right.

As I said yesterday, the Lakers dismal season is a soup of problems that is now coming to a boil. Mike D’Antoni and his system is one of them, but I lay that at the feet of Kupchak and the Buss family ownership — they knew D’Antoni coaches his system (to the point of benching Pau Gasol for Earl Clark) and they knew the roster was not a good fit for that system.

Yet they hired D’Antoni.

And now there are signs that Dwight Howard doesn’t like the system and how it uses him. Kupchak is right that Howard’s up-and-down effort and demanding the ball in the post (when he is a good pick-and-roll big playing with Steve Nash) is petty and small. Howard seems disinterested and disengaged and that is on him.

But he also can be a free agent again next year. While you can talk Howard trade rumors if you want, but if the Lakers really were forced to choose between Howard and D’Antoni… the star player always wins those battles.

But for now, Kupchak has D’Antoni’s back.

  1. azarkhan - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    You gotta love it when a team that tries to buy a championship falls flat on its face.

    • ihavenonickname - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      isn’t every team trying to buy a championship? c’mon!

      • zerole00 - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        There are teams that stop at the tax threshold and those that blow past it. If you don’t understand the difference I don’t know what else to say.

    • henryd3rd - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      This is not the first time the Lakers tried to buy a championship. Does anyone remember when the brought on Karl Malone and Gary Peyton? How’d that work out? Gotta give Lakers’ management credit though. They don’t just sit on their hands and hope things get better like some NBA franchises

      • jlgonzb - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:10 AM

        Management deserves credit for trying, they got the players………but have made several mistakes with the coaches………….One good coach will make the players look like stars………..a bad one makes them run into each other making them look stupid.

  2. loungefly74 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    sorry…not buying it. it’s the coaches job to get the players motivated and ready to go. D’Antoni has not done that.

    • skids003 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:08 PM

      Poor Laker fans, delusional. Wake up!!!! The great Kobe s the problem!!!! Ball hogging!!!

      • gopherz - Jan 23, 2013 at 6:44 PM

        YOU are right on ;

      • tietcanhvit - Jan 23, 2013 at 7:04 PM

        Kobe wasn’t a problem when he led the team w/o Shaq and won two championships. Now he’s the problem because they start losing. You’re funny my friend..

      • badintent - Jan 24, 2013 at 2:25 AM

        and here we ALL thought the REAL problem was bozoforall’s posts ! Where is he now with the lakers in freefall ?? In TJ at the donkey show ?The lakers are a donkey show .He-Haw !!

    • henryd3rd - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      Its the owner and the GM’s job to surround the coach with players that compliment his style of coaching. The fact that his salary is guaranteed for the next four years must allow him to sleep soundly at night

    • badintent - Jan 24, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      coach mike brown is still laughing……………… it was all on him for 5 games. righttttttttt !

  3. mungman69 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Poor, poor Lakers. Now they gotta trade Howard and they won’t get much for him. The rest are old. Kobe is old, Nash is older, Pau ain’t no kid and Metta is old. Time to rebuild not reload.

  4. hojo20 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    D12 & Kobe should do a Pampers commercial.

  5. bucrightoff - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    D’Antoni is all but fired at this point. Only question is who will replace him next year.

    • lmoneyfresh - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      I’m guessing it won’t be Phil.

      • eventhorizon04 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        Yeah, Buss publicly humiliating Jackson by floating the possibility of a job offer, THEN hiring someone else and leaking a list of Phil’s demands to the media probably burned that bridge completely…

    • stadix093 - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      I wouldn’t mind another weekend at Bernie’s that little stretch was the best they looked all year without a doubt. Small sample size, but it can’t get worse than it is now.

  6. lakerwoman - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Wrong…D’Antoni IS the problem!!

    • skids003 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      No. It’s Kobe. Wake up, Laker fans, you’re delusional if you can’t see it.

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        No, you’re delusional for putting it on one person. The whole team is playing poorly. The bench is bad, the starters haven’t meshed, the list goes on.

    • jlgonzb - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:11 AM

      lakerwoman, I am with you 100%.

  7. purpwalk - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    this is like when they brought in malone and payton

    • pl4tinum514 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      except way worse

      • eventhorizon04 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        It’s worse because back then, they still had players like Kobe and Shaq in their prime they could choose to build around (Kobe) or trade (Shaq). The only guy with significant trade value on the Lakers is Howard, and he’s also their only starter under age 32…

  8. cavemanna - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    I’m sorry but ill never stop thinking that none of this would be happening gad Stern not blocked the CP3 trade. He shoulda been a Laker and Stern started a Laker curse that’s gonna last till Kobe Dwight and Dantoni are all gone.

  9. jedifriedchicken - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    They went to the NBA finals with Malone & Payton…

  10. cavemanna - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Poor, poor Lakers. Now they gotta trade Howard and they won’t get much for him. The rest are old. Kobe is old, Nash is older, Pau ain’t no kid and Metta is old. Time to rebuild not reload.

    Kobe leads the league in scoring . Dwight IS the best big in the league, and name one team that wouldn’t want Pau, Nash, or MWP sonewhere on there roster. Your comments are obviously LakerHater based. It would suck to not be a Laker fan.

    • miamatt - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:25 PM

      Kobe leads the league in scoring because he is jacking up shots on a bad team. Dwight is having his worst season in years and hardly appears to be a lock to come back for Act 2.

    • badintent - Jan 24, 2013 at 2:15 AM

      but far better to be a Clipper fan………………………………………………….

  11. fotydaze - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    This is exactly why Phil was a better choice as coach. Kobe has never displayed any leadership qualities, he didn’t when Shaq was with him and he’s not doing it now with D12. Phil is the only person Kobe respects and that’s because Phil coached MJ and Kobe wants to be MJ. This falls on Jim Buss for not seeing this coming. Kobe won with pau and Lamar because they don’t have to have the ball to be successful, Dwight and Steve Nash do.

    • mogogo1 - Jan 23, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      Kobe is sort of a strange cat. Sort of unknowable and that hinders his ability to lead even if he wanted to step up, which it doesn’t appear he does, at least this season. He’s had plenty of run-ins with teammates but people forget that Jordan could be a total jerk to his teammates, too. However, he also would golf and play cards with them and they related to him. I never hear stories like that about Kobe. Guys respect his game, but I don’t think many feel like they know him.

  12. steelers4385 - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Guy has never won anything. His system is stupid and worked for like 3 years. He is a pile of crap. Nothing more.

    • henryd3rd - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      He’s a rich pile of crap at $2,500,000.00 per year for the next three years

  13. tiennguyen645 - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Laker start play defense 3 minute left of the game and the fastbreak is not work for the old team . That all LAKER need to adjust !

  14. zerole00 - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    If I were D’Antoni I’d be worry about management backing me, didn’t Jim Buss publicly support Brown DAYS before he was canned?

    • stadix093 - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Yes sir he did. I bet If you read the press clippings about the last 50 fired coaches, about 40 of them got a vote of confidence just before they were sent out. Even if Dwight walks away I’m happy to be rid of Bynum and his contract/knees.

  15. aboogy123456 - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    I didn’t want to admit it, but after watching the Bulls game it was clear that there is something going on between Kobe and Dwight. They really don’t like each other and the whole game felt akward and uncomfortable. Gasol seemed like people were hating on him too, which I don’t get. He was trying to talk gameplan with Dwight during a time out and dwight was not even pretending to care.

    You can tell that Dwight is being a little child with how he’s reacting to all this. When he gets in an argument, he just wants to pout and sit in the corner. Kobe on the other hand is taking the eff everybody mentality, and you can see he’s not enjoying the game. I hope a fight like this can somehow bring them together, it really seems worse than the hate between kobe and shaq.

    • skids003 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Dude, you are right on the money. They are both like petulant little children.

    • eventhorizon04 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      Yeah, I noticed Dwight ignoring Pau as well, not even making eye contact as Pau tried to explain what happened on the previous play.

      This is a team that doesn’t enjoy playing together.

      • mogogo1 - Jan 23, 2013 at 6:55 PM

        I don’t think Dwight ever really bought into playing in LA period. It wasn’t his first choice and he went from saying he’d never ever go there because he didn’t want to be seen as Shaq’s shadow to ending up there any way. If they were winning he’d probably warm up to the whole deal, but he plays like he just wants to collect his check.

      • jlgonzb - Jan 23, 2013 at 11:55 PM

        D’antoni does not have them playing where they are good at. So why would they be happy?

      • badintent - Jan 24, 2013 at 2:18 AM

        demand a trade to kicks where we pass the rock TO THE OPEN MAN! Even Melo has bought in.nets keep wining, the west is doomed.Ecept for thunder

  16. thomaskouns - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    At some point the players need to take responsibility.

    What are the players going to say when things go bad with another coach. Will it be his fault too….

  17. andreweac - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    “Heck of job Brownie… Err D’Antoni”

    Lakers new motto = we reward failure.

    Yes, I am a disgruntled Lakers fan. What an epic disaster this year.

  18. pop562 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    In Jimmy Buss, we don’t trust.

  19. magicbucs - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Didn’t he say the same thing about mike brown lol…. Kupchak panicked when his so called super team wasn’t working with mike brown after what 7 games?? Things haven’t changed much with their new coach. It’s obviously the players that don’t gel.
    He should of kept Bernie as the coach for another week. He had a winning record and by waiting that week that could of been the amount of time for Phil to decide to come back and coach.
    Look in the mirror mr. GM Kupchak. You got that team together and it’s not working. FAIL

    • jlgonzb - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      It is possible that they don’t gel………..but it is the ability and wisdom of a coach to see all players and utilize them the way they perform best . Like a chess game, each one is different………………D’Antoni does not have the vision, has never been good on defense and is running a hot rod on a raggedy road. Get rid of D’Antoni, I still believe in the players!

  20. fanz928 - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Yes coach is problem he’s the one calling the plays and he run Zero pick and rolls WTf isn’t he suppose to be good at calling those plays? Offensive genius ???

  21. ph53knowsall - Jan 23, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    They have gone through 3 coaches this year. Sooner or later it HAS to be on the players.

    No pick and rolls? If Kobe wasn’t hoisting 25 shots a game, maybe you’d see more of it.
    Their biggest problem is defense anyway.
    Playing defense is about will and want, not coaching. If you don’t know how to play defense at this level, you’re ignorant. This team is old and lazy.
    X’s and O’s at the NBA are overated anyway.

    I get you’re looking for excuses, but this debacle rests squarely on the players. It’s a veteran laden team.

    • dmcannon99 - Jan 23, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Brown was a joke from Day 1, as has been D’Antoni. As far as the guy in the middle, Bernie was an interim coach (look it up).

      As far as Kobe taking shots, nobody else seems to want to. Would you be happy if the team averaged 10 tries per player? Have you actually watched any of the games to see the flow, or lack thereof, of the games? Have you noticed when Bryant has deferred to others only to see the team fall behind my double digits? Probably not…

      Yeah, the coach has nothing to do with it, it’s all the players’ fault. Unless they are sitting on the bench because of the coach. Or they are not playing their strengths because of the coach. As far as cohesiveness, I guess we can see why Jackson is held in high esteem versus some of the other coaches…like this guy. He was able to get teams to work together, even when they didn’t like each other all that well. D’Antoni seemingly is able to make people that used to like each other not even want to look at each other anymore.

      Nash has never been known for his defense, and some pretty good commentators have remarked that one of the reasons Kobe may be having trouble scoring is that he is working so hard on defense that it is wearing him out. Howard isn’t necessarily lazy, but he is pouting…hopefully he is over that, given his recent statement. Gasol is likely confused at how he is being used, although that should motivate him (which doesn’t appear to be the case right now), and Metta is doing a pretty good job defensively, although his shooting runs hot and cold.

      Excuses? Nah, let’s just blame it on Kobe. That seems to be the way the haters look at it.

      • mazblast - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        Let’s completely overlook the possibility that KoMe may be having problems on both ends because he’s an aging ballhog who was never really that good on defense to begin with, who used to get away with gambling on defense but can’t now. The offense was always there, the defense was largely a case of supposing excellence on one end because he was so good at the other.

    • jlgonzb - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:05 AM

      I believe the coach is the one that sets the defense strategy…….and the players follow. D’Antoni has always been questionable on defense……….why would we expect anything different?

  22. omniusprime - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Kurt Helin your memory is worthless if you can’t remember that just before they fired Clueless Clown Brown management said they had his back too. Kupcake is trying to deflect the story about the real problem, the little idiot buss boy who brought this coaching moron in to destroy his father’s legacy of winning with big men. Sadly that free NBA League Pass week meant I could watch some of that pathetic game last night. No doubt about it the biggest problem is the lack of a decent coach with a clue as to how to utilize the Laker’s vast talent best.

    Of course Kupcake is going to try to make it seem like the decision to bring in Dumbtoni was the right one by blaming the players for not playing hard enough. Who is supposed to inspire the players to play their best? Yeah the coach and Dumbtoni is failing spectacularly at it.

    Ancient Nash looked pathetic again last night, he should do the Lakers the biggest favor he can by retiring right now. Nash doesn’t belong in the NBA, he’s too old and slow and can’t play defense whatsoever.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Away Nash!!! We Want Gasol!!! We Want Phil!!!

  23. dhkr - Jan 24, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Kupchack is blaming the players for playing with lack of energy. Well, Jim Buss and he needs to realize how much of a disappointment they have brought unto the team when they made it so certain that reunion with PJ was just around the corner. But then to turn around and hire MD behind everyone’s back at midnight was nothing about a dis to the players. Who’d want to play for a management that shows absolutely no respect to the players’ demands and desires.

    It was literally a “F-you” to Phil Jackson, “F-you” to the Laker players and “F-you” to the millions of Laker fans who were chanting “we want Phil” in their hearts. Phil, who brought 5 championships during his career with the Lakers, didn’t deserve this kind of disrespect. It is one thing to hire a different coach in the morning after notifying PJ, but to wake him up during the middle of the night to tell him, “Uhh.. yeah, we’re going with the Pringles guy.” I mean.. who the hell does business in that matter? I personally felt like I got smacked by a train reading that article on ESPN app off my phone at 11 P.M. (YES, 11 PM!! meaning, D’antoni, who was in NY at the time, was wide-awake at 2 in the morning to steal PJ’s job!), only God would know how Kobe and his team felt like.

    I really wonder what that knucklehead Jim Buss was thinking with Dwight waiting there for his time to come to walk away if he wanted to. Dwight demanded Phil as his coach (Not to mention Kobe did as well). Jim Buss turns around, hires D’antoni, and expects Dwight to sign with the Lakers at the end of the season!? HA! Good luck to you! Look what D’antoni’s so-called “system” is doing to our team: Dwight gets next to no touches, Gasol is literally waiting to be traded, Kobe is wasting last of his few seasons left, Jamison signed with the Lakers for nothing, Meeks signed with the Lakers for nothing, DJO (a possible Shannon Brown 2.0, YOUNG, ATHLETIC player who knows how to ATTACK the basket was waived), and so on and so forth. Why is the management trying to re-rack the entire roster to please a coach who won’t even be remembered 50 years from now?

    Management needs to get their heads out of their asses. NOW! I don’t even know why I continue to waste 2 1/2 hours every night when there is a Laker game but yeah.. I don’t even get mad anymore. Starting quiet some time ago, I started expecting the Lakers to lose every game and what do you know? I’m RIGHT almost every night! :) Whoo.. boy.. Jimmy needs to be replaced by PJ now that the Colonel is part of the Buss family. Executive Vice-President / Head Coach Phil Jackson. Now that’s doing something to improve the team.

  24. klownboy - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Oh, D’Antoni is the problem here folks. The GM is either too proud to admit it or he is really afraid of Jim Buss.

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