From Ramneet Singh, Lakers Nation: When Mike D’Antoni first joined the Los Angeles Lakers, not many people saw his offensive system working well with the aging roster. Despite the backing of the front office and even the players, D’Antoni just could not get his style of play to function in Los Angeles. D’Antoni spoke to the Los Angeles Times, and he talked about what he expects from the team this upcoming season. Although D’Antoni wants to keep it a high-paced offense, he understands what the players are and aren’t capable of. Which kind of pace does D’Antoni envision the Lakers running this season? “It won’t be crazy,” he said, “but we want to push it and get a nice pace. We want to get some easy buckets before the defense sets up, so we’ll be up in the top five probably in pace, but it won’t be breakneck speed.”
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: The day before Luke Walton made his television debut as an on-air analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Los Angeles Lakers’ broadcast channel, this month, Walton ran into a familiar face who was exiting the gym just as he was entering it to work out. Phil Jackson wanted to make sure Walton knew what he was doing. “He pulled me aside and said, ‘Let me tell you a story,’” Walton told ESPNLosAngeles.com during a recent sit-down interview at the Time Warner Cable studios. Jackson recalled the time during New Jersey Nets training camp prior to the 1978-79 season — Jackson’s 11th in the league — when the rigors of NBA practices were causing him constant pain, and he wondered if he was coming to the end of his career. “The coach kind of told him, ‘Look, I think it’s time for you take that next step and maybe get into coaching. Your body is not really working for you right now,’” Walton said Rather than hang it up then and there, Jackson worked through his troubles and got himself ready to play. Next thing he knew, teammate Bob Elliott went out with a season-ending injury in November and Jackson was back in the mix.
From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: In the past six years, there have been no shortage of superlatives that could have been used to describe the players who have manned the five for the Lakers, and it would not be overly remiss to describe them as the driving force, Kobe Bryant notwithstanding, of the team’s recent success. The ability to field either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum at the center spot at any point in a game was an enormous advantage that most teams were simply not equipped to deal with; adding Lamar Odom to the mix made it emphatically the league’s best frontcourt rotation when everyone involved was healthy and provided enough quality depth to get by when it often was not. In a league that was steadily moving towards the perimeter and becoming smaller, the Lakers prided themselves on being able to exert their will down on the box.
From Eric Pincus, LA Times: As the regular season nears, the Lakers will have to make some final decisions on the roster before opening night. “I think it’s 48 hours before the first game and I do think you get to work on weekends. I think [theNBA] changed the rules,” Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I guess until Saturday, more or less.” The Lakers start the season Oct. 29 at home against the Clippers. They currently have 16 players, which means at least one has to go. Given that both Shawne Williams and Elias Harris have $100,000 of their individual contracts guaranteed, both are favorites to stick. The team has 11 guaranteed contracts — 13 if Williams and Harris are included with their partials. The solid preseason from camp invitee Xavier Henry suggests the Lakers have a clear 14 headed into cut-down day. Does the team go to the maximum 15 or keep an open roster slot at 14? “I don’t know,” D’Antoni said, deferring to General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “We’ve got to figure out how many we’re keeping and what we’re doing.” Ryan Kelly, the power forward from Duke picked 48th overall in the June draft, is on the bubble. If the Lakers take 15 players to opening night, he might have the slight edge over forward Marcus Landry.