What speed will the Lakers' play this coming season?
"We’re going to play exactly how we finished off last year -- playing with a tempo that’s right for us," Kobe Bryant said on media day Saturday. "We’re not an up-and-down, run-and-gun type of team by any stretch of the imagination. But we’ll use the strengths that we have. Pau [Gasol is] a good post player. I’m a good post player. Steve in pick-and-rolls can be effective. But you’ll see us really dominating the game from the inside."
Last year, the team initially ran a hybrid Princeton offense under Mike Brown.
Brown was let go after five games and assistant Bernie Bickerstaff, acting as the interim head coach, let the players play an open, systemless style of basketball.
Injuries and roster makeup (specifically with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol) necessitated a change and D'Antoni slowed the ball down and let Kobe Bryant operate as the team's primary playmaker.
It was a difficult, uneven year. Now Howard is gone and Bryant is trying to work his way back from Achilles' tendon surgery.
Where does D'Antoni stand on the team's tempo this season?
"You just try to find what the team functions better at," he said Saturday. "We’re going to have to play to the strengths of the team and get them to be efficient as they can. Every team has a rhythm they run to. Whether I like to run a little faster or not, it doesn’t really matter. It’s what the players can do, and we will adjust to find their strengths and go with that rhythm."
Gasol will play as the team's primary low-post option but the Lakers don't seem to know just yet how fast they'll play.
The Lakers will probably run at a quicker pace than they did a year ago, but not nearly as explosively as the Phoenix team with D'Antoni and Nash from 2003 to 2008.
"Everything is going to be the same we did in Phoenix," D'Antoni said Sunday. "We might do it a different speed. That speed is determined by the players, which is fine, but the basic principles are all the same. We’re moving the ball, getting wide-open shots, and hopefully we make it."
Bryant seems to have a very specific, definite view that favors a slower style of play, while D'Antoni is more open-minded to learn exactly what his players are capable of.
Perhaps the time without Bryant will give D'Antoni and the Lakers the opportunity to experiment without the guard's forceful personality.