Mike D’Antoni has postponed his Lakers coaching debut as he continues to recover from recent knee surgery. The duties will once again fall on Bernie Bickerstaff as interim head coach when the Lakers play the Houston Rockets on Sunday night at Staples Center.
Bickerstaff previously coached the Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets, Washington Bullets/Wizards and Charlotte Hornets before his four-game run with the Lakers.
“Yes, I’m turning the gavel over,” Bickerstaff had said after Friday’s victory over the Suns, which he thought would be his last game as interim coach.
Bickerstaff is now in the books as the most successful Lakers coach in franchise history, at least by winning percentage (3-1, .750).
“That will get me a popsicle,” he joked Friday. “When all is said and done, I thought it was said that it would be a footnote. It will be something that will be in history that maybe my grandkids can talk about.”
Bickerstaff took over on a short-term basis after Mike Brown was fired Nov. 9. Did he enjoy the experience?
“When it was over? Yes,” he joked after Friday’s game. “The staff was just terrific and the players. They’re just terrific. They were pros, consummate pros. Even the media had their moments.”
Kobe Bryant used the same words to describe Bickerstaff’s performance under difficult circumstances as interim coach.
“He was just a consummate professional,” Bryant said. “He stepped in and did a fantastic job.”
Now it looks like Bickerstaff’s term as coach will be extended.
Once D’Antoni does take over, Bickerstaff is expected to continue with the Lakers as an assistant, although it’s unclear whether the team will make any more changes to the coaching staff.