It looks as if the playbooks can be thrown out when the Suns and Lakers face each other this season. Who needs them when both teams have been studying the same one?
The reason for the deposed playbook will be that former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni took over for Mike Brown as the Lakers’ head coach late Sunday night. After the Lakers dropped all eight preseason games and started with a 1-4 record, Brown was let go and the Lakers decided to make D’Antoni their man.
D’Antoni, who first became head coach of the Suns during the 2003-04 season, took over the reins when Frank Johnson was let go by the organization. In D’Antoni’s first full season as Phoenix’s head coach, he hired Alvin Gentry as one of his assistants.
The two worked together until D’Antoni left to coach the Knicks in 2008, becoming great friends during their time in the Valley. In 2009, Gentry took over as the franchise’s head coach, running much of the offensive system that D’Antoni had implemented.
Now, the Lakers are expected to run a similar offense to the Suns when D’Antoni gets into the gym with his new squad.
“I have a ton of respect for Mike,” Gentry said. “He’s the reason I’m here right now and the guy is a great coach. I know that people on ESPN have doubts about the way that (he) fits, but if you talk to the players there and see how they’re going to play, it’s going to be great for them.”
The “doubts” that Gentry is referring to are from the skeptics that watched Brown struggle with a revamped Lakers lineup. However, Gentry points to another team that underwent a roster makeover that turned out just fine.
“People forget a few years ago what Miami went through in order to get to the championship season right now,” he said. “They forgot what all of those guys went through collectively as a group from Dwyane (Wade), to LeBron (James), to Chris Bosh and making the whole thing work.
“You can’t just take a group of guys and put them together and just think that everything is going to be ok. In order to be a team you have to be together and that takes time to happen.”
Although Gentry considers D’Antoni a friend, don’t count on the Suns’ head coach giving his old pal any breaks when the two clubs meet this Friday at STAPLES Center. Especially since his friend has the same playbook.