When Joe Johnson looks over at the Lakers’ bench a week from Tuesday at Staples Center and Mike D’Antoni is at the end of it, let’s just say it’s not something he expected to witness.
But just don’t call it weird.
“It won’t be weird,” Johnson said after Monday's practice at the Barclays Center. “It will be great to see him. But him being the Lakers' head coach, it may be a little different, though.”
Johnson flourished under D’Antoni in two-plus seasons while the two were in Phoenix, increasing his scoring average each year and eventually landing that lucrative five-year, $70 million deal in 2005 to play for the Hawks. He credits D’Antoni for helping ignite his All-Star career.
“I think he’s a great coach,” Johnson said, “a great friend of mine, a guy who really gave me an opportunity in this league. So, I’m glad to see him back coaching."
Reggie Evans has a pretty good perspective of the scene in Los Angeles, given he played in 56 games with the Clippers during last season’s lockout-shortened campaign.
Call it a touch of bias if you want, but the veteran 10th-year power forward thinks the chatter surrounding the Clippers has grown to a point where it can’t be ignored by their arena co-tenants.
"It seems like it's real crazy," Evans said. "It seems to me like it's all about the Clippers, and I don’t think people like the fact that it’s all about the Clippers right now."
But Evans stopped short of accusing the Lakers of making moves simply because the Clippers are playing well.
“I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, they are doing it based on them,” he said. “But the Clippers are holding it down. The Lakers are still a great team, don’t get me wrong. They are still one of the best teams in history, but I was very shocked that Mike did get fired. I was very shocked that they hired D’Antoni. I was real shocked at that.
“I thought they were going to hire Phil [Jackson]. But I guess they went in a different direction or maybe thought this triangle would probably work when they had the big fellas. But I don’t know how it’s going to work -- four out, one big man in. So it should be fun, though."
Avery Johnson reiterated he thinks Mike Brown deserved a better fate.
“I just think it was a tough deal for Mike Brown to get fired so prematurely and obviously they wanted to go in another direction,” he said. “We’ve coached against Mike both when he was in Phoenix and with New York. He’s a good a coach and once we get to that game, we’ll see what happens. But they are a team right now that’s in transition.
“But for me right now, I’ve got so many other things to worry about, mainly Nets basketball.”