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Report: D’Antoni wants to add McMillan or Gentry to staff

May 2, 2013, 11:49 AM EST

Nate McMillan Mike D'Antoni Getty Images

The Lakers need to play better defense next season… unless they enjoyed how this season went. Thanks to terrible transition defense, shake perimeter defense and Dwight Howard’s back slowing him, the Lakers finished 19th in the NBA in points allowed per possession.

As does everything with the Lakers right now, some of that blame is being directed at Mike D’Antoni. So there is talk of him trying to bring a defensive specialist as an assistant coach on staff.

And he wants Nate McMillan — and if not him Alvin Gentry — according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

With the Lakers in full-on evaluation mode after getting swept in the first round by the Spurs, coach Mike D’Antoni is actively exploring his long-standing desire to add a defensive-minded assistant. D’Antoni’s first choice is believed to be McMillan. But with the fellow Team USA assistant expected to land a head coaching job, coaching sources believe D’Antoni will get the green light to add former Suns coach Alvin Gentry to his staff for next season.

McMillan is the frontrunner in Detroit and will get the chance to interview pretty much anywhere else he wants.

I find Nate McMillan an odd fit with D’Antoni for two reasons. One, McMillan’s teams played notoriously slowly. His style was the complete opposite of D’Antoni. Still the two forged friendship through Team USA, where both worked as assistants to Mike Krzyzewski, so maybe that works.

The other thing that’s odd — McMillan’s teams were never great defensively. He has this reputation as a defensive coach based on his teams not giving up many points per game, but that was because his teams played at a painfully slow pace. In the 10 years he was the solo head coach of a team here is where his squads finished in league rankings of defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession): 17, 17, 27, 27, 28, 26, 17, 13, 15, and 14. Basically, his teams were never better than average. (Kelly Dwyer breaks it down in more detail at Ball Don’t Lie if you want.)

Gentry coached some good defensive teams back in the day in Detroit but his recent run with the Suns was not impressive (although the roster wasn’t exactly filled with defensive stoppers).

One way or another, look for the Lakers to make a move for a veteran coach on the bench beside D’Antoni next season. Which, if you’re looking to make a coaching change again mid-season, makes things far simpler. Just pointing that out.

  1. erckle31 - May 2, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Honestly, I don’t know if the defense can get any worse, so any new addition would help. Hopefully we can get one of the two.

    • lakerluver - May 2, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      Oh, the defense can get worse! But I agree, Mike needs a defensive minded assistance. I think Nate’s going to get the Detroit job though. The LAKERS should’ve kept Brown or hired Shaw if they didn’t want Phil.

  2. sportsnut101 - May 2, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Question is why didn’t he add one of them this past season I mean mike worked on def for a good half hr he said so that should of been enough

    This guy is not offense genius like people think. Is Kevin mchale a genius cuz he just let’s his team shoot whenever n don’t care about def

  3. smoothaswilkes - May 2, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    “Mike D’Antoni is actively exploring his long-standing desire to add a defensive-minded assistant.”

    Maybe it was a poor choice of words for that sentence but D’Antoni was in complete control of putting together his coaching staff this year. There was nothing stopping him from either delegating defense to a coach already on the team or hiring a more defensive minded coach. Does this long-standing desire go back to his Phoenix days?

    That said, I don’t think either McMillan or Gentry are the next coming of Tom Thibodeau but having anyone put a voice to a defensive philosophy can’t hurt. This team lacked the proper fundamentals and desire to play defense consistently – both signs that there was zero defensive coaching this past season.

    A defensive coach isn’t necessarily the cure-all either. Unless the Lakers can get more athletic on the wings, I’m not sure what kind of zone they need to run to correct their issues – hello really bad transition defense. It would help if Kobe played consistently on that side of the ball too, as most of the team take their cue from him. He used to be an active and rangy defender, now he spends to much energy on offense, which arguably is needed.

  4. brentwoodjerry - May 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Nate McMillan was my top choice for the head coaching job. He has credibility with the players and a defensive mindset. Hiring him as Head Coach would be a major step toward a championship. I am a D’Antoni fan but he is just a very poor fit for the Lakers.

  5. spideysdog - May 2, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    really Kurt? you’re gonna cut Alvin gentry slack for personnel but post up Mr. Sonic? when does your blatant bias end?

    you try getting a middle of the road defensive ranking out of rashard Lewis, ray Allen and vladimir radmanovich. let me know how that works out for you. Nate forgot more about defense while eating his Cinnamon Toast Crunch this morning than you will ever know.

    while your on yet another anti sonic kick, why don’t you call up Magic Johnson and ask him who he called his toughest defender in the NBA.

    Silly me, you don’t have that access. well, I guess carry on reblogging legitimate reporters stories draped with your dim witted, nobdy cares, opinions intermingled.

    another day, another dollar my friend.

  6. katra2logic - May 2, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    I would go with either Nate McMillan or / and Alvin Gentry INSTEAD of D’Antonio in a heart beat. Cheers :-)

  7. Mr. Wright 212 - May 2, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Those guys are head coaches. YOU’RE the one who should be an assistant someplace, Mike D.

  8. zacksdad - May 2, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Maybe McMillan can hire D’Antoni to his staff in Detroit if he gets the head coaching job there. Win for me, we get rid this coach. I used to defend him as a coach stating the Lakers team was bad for him. But I never seen a coach upset so many decent, good, and even great players on a team. He never handled Gasol, Jamison, Howard, and even Kobe very well this season.

    Gasol was played out of his normal play area.
    Jamison was DNP many games in row with no explanation.
    Howard never wanted him and probably never grew to like him.
    Kobe just gave up on him as a coach and just played how he wanted and even told players to ignore the coach and do it his way.

    It was not till the starters stopped playing his system and played a version of the Triangle did the Lakers start winning.

    Hopefully the rumors are correct and Phil comes back as President or something like that. He would get rid of D’Antoni in a heart beat.

    Too bad D’Antoni chased Jamison off for good, he was a decent player for a cheap price.

    • mytthor - May 3, 2013 at 7:07 PM

      You’re really talking out of your @SS here.

      Gasol was played out of his normal play area.

      Yeah, you’re right, they should have had Howard at the high post. Or are you talking about when he was hurt for half the season? Maybe you meant the bench in a suit?

      Jamison was DNP many games in row with no explanation.

      He’s the coach, he doesn’t need to explain. And by many games, you mean 7. And it was when D’Antoni was still figuring out the personnel, Jamison became a major contributor until he got hurt.

      Howard never wanted him and probably never grew to like him.

      Which is clearly D’Antoni’s fault, because Dwight is a coach’s dream.

      Kobe just gave up on him as a coach and just played how he wanted and even told players to ignore the coach and do it his way.

      Source?

      It was not till the starters stopped playing his system and played a version of the Triangle did the Lakers start winning.

      This team never played the triangle. I love how the triangle has become dimwit fan shorthand for any offense where you read and react and post up. Everyone complained that D’Antoni’s system wasn’t good for the team and then he catches crap for being flexible?

      Too bad D’Antoni chased Jamison off for good, he was a decent player for a cheap price.

      Too bad he was on a 1 year contract and hasn’t said or hinted that he’s not coming back. And he’s an absolutely awful defender, let’s not shed too many tears if he does leave.

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