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Lakers GM Kupchak makes it clear: D’Antoni will be back next season

Apr 18, 2013, 9:31 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni chats to Pau Gasol of Spain and Dwight Howard during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles Reuters

Bad news for those Lakers fans who have chosen to scapegoat coach Mike D’Antoni for the Lakers disappointing season:

He’s going to be back next season.

That’s not my opinion, that comes straight from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, speaking to the Los Angeles Times.

“Yeah, he’s back. I think he’s done a great job,” Kupchak told The Times. “There’s been no discussions otherwise.

“He’s made adjustments. He’s been flexible. He’s evaluated how he coaches as the season’s progressed. He’s listened to the players. He’s very easy to work with and we think in particular since the meeting the day of the Memphis game, yeah.”

D’Antoni didn’t get a fair shot this season. Not only did he not get a training camp but also the offensive principles he would want to instill are a radical departure from the measured hybrid-Princeton offense Mike Brown had spent all of training camp putting in place. Then there were the much-discussed injuries — Steve Nash has been out a lot, killing any chance D’Antoni had of implementing his base system, plus there was Pau Gasol and finally Kobe Bryant. Of course, Dwight Howard played but he wasn’t right until near the end of the season.

Some Lakers fans kill D’Antoni because he wasn’t a natural fit for this roster makeup, and because he’s not Phil Jackson. Those complaints really should be directed at management — they hired him knowing full well about the fit.

To D’Antoni’s credit, he has adapted and modified. The Lakers run more standard NBA sets like “horns” than people seem to think. Since Kobe went down there has been a lot of very standard post-entry passing from the wing to Howard. D’Antoni has adjusted.

Bring him back and the Lakers will find a solid offensive identity. And then we can get back to the real questions about these Lakers and this coach — can they defend well enough to be contenders? Can Mike D’Antoni coach them well enough on that end of the floor to be a good defensive team?

He’s going to get a shot at that next season. He’s not going anywhere.

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