Mike D'Antoni hopes to make Lakers coaching debut Tuesday night vs. Nets
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Mike D'Antoni hobbled through practice again Monday, barking out instructions while walking with a noticeable limp as he recovers from knee surgery.
But that might not keep the former Knicks coach from making his debut as the Lakers' head man Tuesday night when D'Antoni's new team hosts the Nets at Staples Center. D'Antoni said he's "feeling better" and didn't rule out being on the bench for the Lakers' final matchup in a six-game homestand that began with Mike Brown abruptly getting fired, sending shock waves from coast to coast.
"I'm going to try," D'Antoni said after practice at the Toyota Sports Center. "We'll see. We'll talk to [trainer] Gary [Vitti] tomorrow and see how it goes. Like Sunday, I tried and it didn't work out. I don't want to say yeah and then don't do it again. So, we'll just see."
The initial thought was that D'Antoni was going to coach in Sunday's game against the Rockets and former protege Jeremy Lin. However, that didn't happen, in part everyone thought, because D'Antoni said Vitti didn't want him too close to the action in case he had to react quickly.
So then, how exactly is that going to change in just two days?
"It won't and that's not the main reason why I did it," he said. "I was listening to other things. But it sounded like a good sound bite."
Still, D'Antoni said he's able to maneuver around more than he was even a few days ago, adding that "every day it gets tenfold better." If nothing else, just for the sake of his own sanity, he might need to be on the bench next to interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff Tuesday night.
"I'm anxious to go," he said. "Watching the game in the back is driving me crazy. I suffer more back there than I would on the floor. I want to just make sure it's right. Bernie does a great job. There's no hurry on my part. It's just when I'm 100 percent I'm ready to go."
In the meantime, he'll keep trudging on with the task of righting the Lakers' ship, finding ways to tread water with their offensive scheme until he gets on-floor conductor Steve Nash back from a small fracture in his left leg.
"We're trying to get there," D'Antoni said. "I don't think we're there yet. We're trying to nudge them into it. It just takes a while. It's habits and usually you go through September and October and try to get certain habits by the middle of the season. We'll get it up there and then when Steve comes back, he'll push up the notch a little bit."