Coach Mike D'Antoni looking forward to a 'normal' season with Lakers

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni is looking forward to a "normal" season after last year's difficult trek.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know the guys. See how they interact with each other -- see if we can have a little bit [more] chemistry this year than we had last year," D'Antoni told Jaime Maggio in an interview on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.


D'Antoni succeeded Mike Brown, who was fired after just five games last season. D'Antoni coached the team through an injury-plagued season.

"We never really got over the hump last year," said D'Antoni. "I thought we let little things bother us and can never become a cohesive unit.  We tried but it just didn't work."

Just when it looked as if the team might finally come together, Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon April 12.

The Lakers won 28 of their final 40 to finish 45-37 but had to start Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock in the postseason against the San Antonio Spurs instead of Steve Nash (hip, hamstring and back) and Bryant.

Now Morris and Goudelock are no longer with the team. Instead, the Lakers brought back veteran point guard Jordan Farmar and signed free agents Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman, Shawne Williams, Elias Harris, Ryan Kelly, Xavier Henry and Marcus Landry.

"We got a lot more athletic this year and we have better shooting," said D'Antoni.

The team's final roster won't be decided until closer to the season opener, which is Oct. 29 at home against the Clippers.

D'Antoni gave his take on some of the team's acquisitions.

"[Farmar] likes what we do and how we play.  We're going to open it up for him and let him go," said D'Antoni.  "He definitely adds shooting and a little chip, a little toughness, a little cockiness -- which is good."

"[Young is] one of the best scorers in the league," he continued.  "We've got to get him to understand what we're doing in the sense of ball movement . . . but as an individual talent, there are not too many guys better."

With Dwight Howard leaving as a free agent to the Houston Rockets, the Lakers brought in center Chris Kaman to play alongside (or behind) Pau Gasol.

"He's been an All-Star.  He can really score," said D'Antoni of Kaman.  "We'll see how he fits with Pau and Jordan Hill."

The Lakers also hope Johnson, originally drafted fourth overall in 2010 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, finally blossoms in Los Angeles.

"He needs to break out," said D'Antoni.  "This is a big year for him."


An under-the-radar signing could be Williams, who sat out much of the last two seasons with a foot injury.

"We've signed Shawne Williams, who I had in New York and [he] led the league in three-point shooting at one point, I think he shot about 46%," said D'Antoni.  "He's a tough guy.  He was drafted 17th [in 2006] and never really got his footing.  Hopefully he'll have a breakout year."

Training camp starts Sept. 28.  The biggest question is the health of Bryant, who spent all summer recovering from the Achilles injury.

D'Antoni didn't seem terribly concerned.

"We have some very talented players who have either been overlooked, or dissed a lit bit," he said.  "I think we should have a chip on our shoulder, all of us."

Bryant's status for the season opener is still unclear but the Lakers expect him to return to form before long.


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