Redskins

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni delays bench debut

201211181915693338060-p2.jpeg

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni delays bench debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) Mike D'Antoni postponed his debut on the Los Angeles Lakers' bench for at least another game Sunday night, giving the coach a few more days to recover from recent knee replacement surgery.

D'Antoni tentatively planned to take over when the Lakers hosted Houston, exactly a week after the Lakers hired him to replace Mike Brown. Instead, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti and D'Antoni's wife persuaded him to wait until he can move around a bit better on his new knee.

``I'm anxious to get out there and ready to go, but I don't want to be a sideshow,'' D'Antoni said.

Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff led the Lakers against the Rockets. The Lakers went 3-1 in their first week under Bickerstaff, and D'Antoni announced he'll keep the veteran coach on his staff.

D'Antoni has been getting around without crutches for short distances since he arrived in Los Angeles last week, but the 61-year-old former Knicks and Suns coach isn't his usual spry self yet. He has attended two workouts with the Lakers, circling the court on crutches and sitting down whenever possible, but finally had to acknowledge he would have trouble on an NBA bench.

``My wife said, `Why are you doing this?''' D'Antoni said. ``And I kept being headstrong. (Vitti) kind of sat me down and said, `Mike, this is crazy. Somebody comes over, you're going to be bowled over. You're a sitting duck.'

``And I know my coaches aren't real nimble, so there's no way they're protecting me. They're hitting the streets. It was the smart thing to do.''

The Lakers formally announced they had hired Dan D'Antoni, the head coach's older brother, as an assistant coach before Sunday's game. Mike D'Antoni also said he plans to keep Bickerstaff, the longtime NBA coach and executive who joined Brown's staff in September.

``Bernie is a great coach and good guy,'' D'Antoni said. ``I've known him forever. It just means the world. He does a super job. ... He's (on the staff permanently), yeah. Unless he loses tonight.''

D'Antoni then smiled broadly.

Bickerstaff hadn't formally been told he was sticking around when he spoke to reporters moments after D'Antoni. Bickerstaff joked that the Lakers should be told that they were playing for his job.

``I think he and Steve Nash are waiting to make their debuts together,'' said Bickerstaff, who learned at the morning shootaround that his interim career would extend at least one more game.

Nash missed his eighth consecutive game Sunday with a small fracture in his leg that will keep him out until at least next weekend.

Although D'Antoni will speak to the Lakers before the game and again at halftime, he planned to watch his second straight game from the Lakers' locker room while getting therapy on his knee. He'll be joined by ``the Steves,'' - injured point guards Nash and Steve Blake.

``The hardest thing is to watch the game,'' D'Antoni said. ``I'm trying to do my therapy and she's killing me, and then you're watching the game and you're suffering there. It's not easy, but we'll get through this.''

The Lakers already have shown signs of D'Antoni's influence, playing two straight games at a speedy tempo they rarely used under Brown. Los Angeles scored more than 60 points in the first half Sunday night for the second straight game since D'Antoni's arrival, leading Houston 68-60 at halftime after making 67.4 percent of its shots.

Los Angeles hosts Brooklyn on Tuesday before heading out on a three-game trip beginning Wednesday night in Sacramento.

Quick Links

Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

ESPN Fantasy Football expert Matthew Berry was at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere last weekend in Los Angeles, where he got the chance to interview the three Redskins rookies in attendance: Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin, and Bryce Love. 

Berry, who was a guest of JP Finlay's on the Redskins Talk podcast on Thursday, has been a fan of the Burgundy and Gold since he was a kid, so he was eager to talk to three of the team's newest players and learn more about them.

It was during those interviews where Berry got a quick glimpse of a side of Haskins that now has Berry really excited.

"I thought what was really cool was... When I was interviewing McLaurin, Dwayne Haskins came in and interrupted the interview to give him some crap," he told Finlay. "It was really a wonderful moment to see. Obviously, they know each other very well from Ohio State, but just the fact that they felt comfortable enough and he wanted to come over and mess with him a little bit and have some fun, I was impressed with that."

Once Haskins left, Berry explained how he asked McLaurin about the interaction. Redskins fans will like McLaurin's answer.

"That's Dwayne, Dwayne is being a leader," McLaurin said, per Berry. 

Haskins did something similar to Love during Love's interview as well. Berry even caught up with Colts receiver Parris Campbell, who also played with the QB at Ohio State, to inquire about the 15th overall pick. 

"I asked him, 'Listen, I'm a diehard Redskins fan, what am I getting?'" Berry said. "He couldn't have been more effusive. 'You're not only getting a guy who puts the ball where you want it, but you're getting a leader. You're getting a guy who makes sure everyone in the huddle is included.'"

You can be skeptical of how much these little moments mean, and that's fair. Ultimately, how quickly Haskins picks up Jay Gruden's playbook and how accurate his arm turns out to be will factor more into his success in the NFL than being able to joke around a bit with some of his guys.

But you can also hope that these little moments are hints of a bigger personality and approach, a look into an athlete who can get a football team to buy into him. That's the side Berry is on.

"I thought that was really cool, and just showed somebody who's very comfortable in the leadership position and who's trying to be inclusive of everyone," he said. "It's early in the process, but I have yet to hear somebody on or off the record say something bad about Dwayne Haskins."

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

WNBA Finals loss only more fuel for Elena Delle Donne, Mystics heading into 2019 season

elena-delle-donne-shoulder-grab-mystics-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

WNBA Finals loss only more fuel for Elena Delle Donne, Mystics heading into 2019 season

For Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics, last season's heartbreak in the WNBA Finals is only fuel for another potential postseason run in 2019. 

"That's something I don't think I'll ever let go," Washington's star forward told Chris Miller on the latest episode of the Wizards Talk podcast. "It's always tough when you get to that Finals and you can't finish it off. But I think it's something that can fuel you. You don't want to let it just bring you down and depress you and make it so you can't get over that hump."

"If you use it as fuel and motivation, it can help you get better. I think that's what we're all gonna do."

The Mystics reached their first WNBA Finals in franchise history in 2018 but ultimately lost to the Seattle Storm. Delle Donne, recently named in WNBA.com's GM survey as the favorite to win league MVP, is back for her third season in Washington and headlines a strong team that has the talent to compete for the title again.

Her status for Saturday's season opener against the Connecticut Sun is up in the air due to a left knee injury, but Delle Donne believes the Mystics will have another great season given the continuity on the roster from last season and the return of All-Star forward Emma Meesseman. 

"We feel great. We've got our core back," said Delle Donne. "And to be able to add a superstar like Emma to that roster is pretty scary. Especially with her style of play and the way that our team started playing last season, where it was such positionless basketball. Spreading the floor, just spreading it, making it easy for one another to attack, get some threes. She's just gonna add so much to that."

NBC Sports Washington will be broadcasting 10 Mystics home games during the 2019 WNBA season. For the full regular season schedule, click here.

MORE MYSTICS NEWS: