LOS ANGELES -- Mike D'Antoni was vacillating between the bed and the sofa, dazed and infused with painkillers when the call came last November.
The Los Angeles Lakers needed a new coach. They wanted him.
It sunk in even though he was convalescing from knee-replacement surgery. And this wasn't the type of recovery that allowed for diving into a complex 500-page novel or reliving Season 4 of "Breaking Bad."
But, yeah. Of course he was interested.
So the Lakers hired him without an in-person interview, he hobbled to a flight out of New York City and ran into something just as painful -- the Lakers' 2012-13 season.
Somewhere between the awkward Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard relationship and a pile of injuries, the NBA gods spat out a horribly one-sided first-round playoff exit at the very capable hands of San Antonio, followed a few months later by Howard's bolting for Houston.
Welcome to the Lakers?
D'Antoni feels more settled now, forgetting the hurried hire and tumult that followed.
Ah, yes. He can breathe a little now.
"You know what you're getting into in a sense," he said. "Last year, you don't know what you're walking into. Steve Nash and Steve Blake were hurt. If they weren't, it would have been an easier transition. When you don't have your points guards, even if you were there for 10 years, you've got a tough period until you get them back."
Not that this season will be easier.
Nash is already banged up, Bryant is not close to returning from a torn Achilles tendon and everyone knows the Lakers' championship chances are slimmer than a scalpel's edge.
D'Antoni's vision of a perfect training camp was chopped up by a weeklong trip to China, including whatever jet lag was created when the team returned to Los Angeles.
In the bigger picture, he must manage a roster filled with players in the last year of their contracts, never an easy task.
"The burden becomes you don't want to negatively influence somebody's career," he said. "Do they get enough time to show who they are? Or are they lost in the shuffle?
"I've got to do what's best for the team and win. Somebody's going to get lost. You hate that, but I think everybody knows that. I think that's why everybody's competing as hard as they can go. It kind of plays out."
D'Antoni has one more guaranteed year on his contract after this season. The team has an option for 2015-16.
It's not all doom and gloom. Pau Gasol looks rejuvenated after a dreadful season, Jordan Farmar's second tour with the Lakers went well in the exhibition season and the new players are buying into D'Antoni's system.
"You look at the Phoenix Suns over the years and they were very successful," center Chris Kaman said. "They had a couple great players, but they also had some mediocre players alongside them that had good success. I think we have better-than-mediocre players to go alongside Steve Nash and Pau.
"Not a knock to anybody that played there, but this can work as long as everybody buys in. Until Kobe gets back, that's what needs to happen.
"Minus Nick Young, we don't have a guy that can go get a bucket on his own. We have to play basketball the way it's supposed to be played. I think we'll be all right as long as we handle our business on the defensive end."
Farmar has long been cognizant of D'Antoni's stat-friendly scheme. It's partly why he gave up millions while playing in Turkey to return to the Lakers after a three-year hiatus for $1.1 million.
"I love Mike D'Antoni," Farmar said. "His basketball mind is really sharp. The whole staff, they really know basketball. They're positive and supportive. That energy is just going to carry us."
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