Four days after formally accepting the Lakers coaching job, Mike D’Antoni was at his first practice for the Lakers on crutches Thursday.
D’Antoni is on crutches and pain medication following surgery earlier this month, but he said he’ll soon be back to normal as he attempts to help the Lakers become 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.”
Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s older brother and a new assistant coach on the staff, ran the team through a variety of shooting and pick-and-roll drills during the practice.
D’Antoni has high hopes for the Lakers going forward.
“I told the team if we’re not averaging 110-115 points a game, we need to talk,” D’Antoni said. “That’s our goal. It should be easily done.”
“He has a very calm demeanor about himself,” Bryant said. “He simplifies the game to its purest form. It’s not overcomplicated for him.”
D’Antoni, the former coach of the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks, said he would not coach Friday’s game against the Suns, instead targeting Sunday against the Rockets as his debut.