Mike D'Antoni excited about coaching Lakers

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Mike D'Antoni circled the court two feet at a time, moving smoothly on crutches while his Lakers went through drills orchestrated by his assistant coach and brother, Dan.

Although D'Antoni's surgically replaced knee is slowing him down a bit, he couldn't wait any longer to get the Lakers rolling.

D'Antoni formally took over the Lakers yesterday, four days after the slow-starting club hired him to replace Mike Brown. The former Knicks and Suns coach still is on crutches and pain medication after surgery this month, but he thinks he'll soon be back to normal while he attempts to transform the Lakers into his vision of an up-tempo, high-scoring team.

"I'm really happy to be here -- excited," D'Antoni said. "[We're] starting to put stuff in now. Might take a little bit, but . . . we're built to win this year. This is not a five-year project. We have a window, and we're going to try to get through it."

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak welcomed D'Antoni after practice at a news conference packed with dozens of media members. Given his limited mobility, D'Antoni isn't likely to make his sideline debut until Sunday night against Houston, with interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff probably manning the bench again Friday night against Phoenix.

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