D'Antoni to meet with Lakers soon about future

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm •  Published: April 18, 2014
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Mike D'Antoni was still the Los Angeles Lakers' coach when he left their training complex to spend the Easter weekend out of town with his family.

How long D'Antoni retains his job won't be decided at least until next week.

General manager Mitch Kupchak praised his embattled coach Friday while the Lakers finished their final exit interviews and headed to an unusually early summer following a franchise-worst 55-loss season. D'Antoni will meet with Kupchak and Lakers owner Jim Buss in the near future to determine whether the veteran coach returns.

"He's under contract for two more years," Kupchak said. "If anything changes, we'll let you know."

D'Antoni will make $4 million next year, and the Lakers hold an option for 2015-16. If he is asked to leave, the Lakers will have their fourth head coach in just over three years since Phil Jackson walked away from the team in 2011.

The Lakers' decision on D'Antoni will be both a reaction to a miserable season and a reflection of the franchise's ambition for the future. With just three players under contract for next season and a top-10 pick in a strong draft, the Lakers' reconfiguration will begin in earnest this summer, but it's uncertain whether Buss and Kupchak want D'Antoni to lead it.

D'Antoni isn't disturbed or surprised by the scrutiny around him. He is 67-87 since taking over for Mike Brown early last season, occasionally clashing with stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol while the Lakers fell to their worst winning percentage since 1958.

"Every coach should be under scrutiny," D'Antoni said. "Some coaches get fired even after the best years they've ever had. ... There's always things we could have done better, and it's easier with hindsight. Things don't always go smoothly. For the most part, our guys were very competitive. For us, there are some silver linings in there, but in hindsight, it's disappointing for everybody."

Kupchak didn't blame D'Antoni for the Lakers' season, instead citing the injury woes that hurt them before the season even began. Bryant and Steve Nash spent most of the year on the sideline as Los Angeles lost a league-worst 319 man-games to injury.

Kupchak also had nothing critical to say about Bryant, who was in Europe this week while his teammates wrapped up the season. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history has said he's not interested in a lengthy rebuilding process, but Kupchak hopes to emulate the Lakers' turnaround in the middle of the last decade when they went from their last playoff absence in 2005 to the NBA Finals in 2008.