It is the day after Thanksgiving. The day after families and friends and large meals, the day after expressions of gratitude and a tradition in this country that goes back a ways, to a long ago harvest. For NBA athletes and coaches and all the people that make up a basketball organization, it will be a return to the early stages of the long grind. A day off and back to the basketball wars. For the Los Angeles Lakers, it has been a busy time. Coach Brown was fired five games into the regular season. The following 48 hours saw Phil Jackson positioned for a grand return before being woken from his sleep by an unexpected call. They were going with Mike D’Antoni instead.
It has been two weeks to the day since Mike Brown’s dismissal. During that time the team has played seven games. They won four and lost one under interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff. They have won one and lost one for Coach D’Antoni. The Lakers play in Memphis tonight and Dallas tomorrow night. Plus there’s other small matters, like practices in which to learn a new system and injuries to get over and tired legs to ignore. And then comes December – between the 2nd and the 28th, five home games and nine away. The team is learning and evolving on the run.
Bill Plaschke for the LA Times writes about Bernie Bickerstaff, a basketball lifer who is owed a debt of gratitude for a welcome bridge between the Mike Brown era and the arrival of Mike D’Antoni.
Kevin Ding of the OC Register reports the the Lakers are buying into Coach D’Antoni’s circle of trust.
Ramona Shelburne at ESPN Los Angeles looks at growing pains and Wednesday night’s slowtime offense.
Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll takes an in-depth at the Lakers’ coaching carousel.
Mark Medina at the LA Daily News writes about the Lakers spending a day healing from aches and pains.
Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo reports that the Lakers are showing renewed interest in Raja Bell.
Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie examines Pau Gasol’s conditioning and the impact of a busy schedule and a full life.
Ryan Ward at Lakers Nation takes a look at Dwight Howard’s free-throw odyssey.
And finally this, Eddie Sefko at SportsDayDFW writes about Chris Douglas-Roberts playing the the Texas Legends in the D-League, under Coach Eduardo Najera.
Storylines don’t always begin in the most obvious places and don’t always go according to plan. The narrative after the summer acquisition of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard was predictable, the team was sure to romp from start to finish. There were longtime observers however who took a more cautious note – the team had faced great expectations in the past and fallen, there were lingering injuries and a new system to learn and a head coach who had experienced a less than optimal first year.
The Lakers failed to win a single preseason game and went 1-4 to start the regular season. And then came the hook – exit stage left. This wasn’t to be a bombproof season by any stretch of the imagination. Of course for all intents and purposes, it has barely begun. There will be more bumps along the way and there is no timetable for Steve Nash’s return. The silver lining of course is Mike D’Antoni himself, less than a month from having a knee replaced, sitting in Phil’s old highchair and infusing the team with a newer, faster and funner way of doing things. For now, the villagers have put away their torches and are watching with an authentic air of curiosity. Something different this way comes.