Remember back when the delusional New York Knicks made a supposedly splashy coaching hire in hopes of resurrecting a once proud hoops franchise? It wasn’t that long ago so surely you remember that team’s franchise player becoming irrelevant, their defense a total disaster and the end result being a sub .500 team with no hopes of sniffing a title.
Well if none of that sounds familiar then all you’d need to do is watch the current version of the Los Angeles Lakers to see the exact same product.
The more things change the more they stay the same. At least they do when Mike D’Antoni is involved.
It seems the only person on the planet who is still convinced that D’Antoni ball can produce a championship parade is Jim Buss. Either that or he was just banking on some bastardized version of Showtime to sell more merchandise and move crowds to the ticket office.
With the D’Antoni era well under way it’s looking like New York Knicks West around Laker country these days.
Much like the team he ran into the ground in the Big Apple, these Lakers play absolutely no defense and have no interest in trying. That’s a massive problem when you’re trying to run and gun with an aging roster. Oklahoma City more than exposed that last night.
Pau Gasol might not carry the same expectations as Carmelo Anthony but he’s certainly getting the Anthony treatment from D’Antoni. There were many who already knew D’Antoni and Anthony would not coexist long before he got the gig. Plenty were saying the same of D’Antoni and the Laker bigs. The adjustment process for Dwight Howard got off to a rocky start but has since smoothed. As for Pau, well the same cannot be said.
Now it is unfair to place Pau’s problems all on the back of D’Antoni. Lone before Mike Brown was ruining whatever game Gasol had left the Spaniard did a massive belly flop in the playoff pool on Phil Jackson’s watch. So there is no reason to assume D’Antoni alone has killed Pau’s production.
However there is something to be said for a coach that would sooner turn to Antawn Jamison in the clutch over Gasol.
Doesn’t D’Antoni owe it to himself to at least try and force the issue with Gasol? Last time I checked it is Gasol that knows more of championship basketball than his current head coach.
The Gasol issue is just one of many D’Antoni’s underachieving Lakers are pitted with. Of course all teams have problems. The perfect NBA squad has yet to be invented. What makes the good teams great is the ability of the coaching staff to find answers. What makes a good team bad is the inability of the head coach to either inspire or find solutions. We already know D’Antoni will never have an answer for the defensive woes. What we’re starting to realize is the Lakers, like D’Antoni’s Knicks, are going to be relegated to scrapping it out for a winning record and a low playoff seed.
That certainly doesn’t sound anything like a title contender. But it certainly sounds a lot like what happened when the Knicks put their eggs in the D’Antoni basket. Thanks for paying attention, Jim Buss.