After a tumultuous season and an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, it’s hard not to avoid the many questions surrounding the Lakers this offseason. The Lake Show Life staff gives their take.
Injuries aside, what was the biggest reason for the Lakers shortcomings this season?
Caleb Cottrell: I guess it goes with injuries, but I think team chemistry was the biggest issue. The players were never able to get in sync with each other. Look at the Heat last year; they weren’t very good together at the beginning because they had never played together, but they improved as the season went along. The Lakers never had that opportunity, but if they did, I think it would have helped a great deal.
Fern Rea: Chemistry. The Lakers had talent but just couldn’t put them in the right position to be successful. The coaching change at the start of the season, then the indecisiveness of the staff on how to mesh the talent on the squad as the season went on hurt the cohesion of the squad. It wasn’t until after the all-star break where it finally seamed that the squad was on the same page and making strides, but at that point it was just too late to gain enough momentum.
Skyler Gilbert: The Lakers just seemed old this year. The average age of their fully healthy starting line-up was 33.0 years old. While experience is nice, and the Lakers certainly had that, there is a point when youth and athleticism needs to play a role in a team’s identity. The Lakers allowed 15.9 fast-break points in the league, second most in the NBA. The Heat, by comparison, allowed 11.9 per game. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re throwing away 4 points per game by not getting back on D, it makes a pretty big difference. They lost 7 games by 4 or fewer points this season. Old contributes to some of the injury woes as well.
Chris Shellcroft: Perhaps the biggest problem of all is that this team never developed any chemistry. There was no defining trait or personality that molded this roster into a cohesive unit. Were this a young team that might be understandable. That this was a veteran group assembled to win now makes it a crime.
Daniel Nicks: System. While chemistry was clearly an issue both on and off the court, the Lakers coaching staff and front office failed to place their players in a position to succeed.
Does Mike D’Antoni deserve to continue coaching the Lakers?
CC: This is a question I have been thinking about a lot lately. Coach D’Antoni’s system doesn’t fit the Lakers, but the team did play better down the stretch. If the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs, I think he should have been fired, but he somehow got an injury-riddled team into the playoffs. D’Antoni deserves one more season.
FR: I don’t think it’s about deserving a chance because to be fair he should get another chance to start a season with his type of team and get a training camp and preseason under his belt before the season starts. It is more about what’s in the best interest of the Lakers and how to put the team in the best position to win another championship NEXT SEASON. Deserving or not, that means D’Antoni might not get another chance to coach this team if management believes he just isn’t the right coach for this team. I personally feel he will be let go because his style of play just doesn’t fit what Dwight does well and in this coming offseason, it will be all about bringing Dwight back.
SG: “Deserve” is an interesting choice of words here. Strictly going by the question, I’d say that he does deserve to stay in LA. He faced abnormal and extreme circumstances with the injuries and he didn’t have an off-season to install his offensive system with the team. Just about anyone in this situation would struggle so I can’t put it all on D’Antoni. Should the Lakers keep him though? Absolutely not. It’s in the best interest of both parties for him to be fired. The Lakers need to hit the reset button this summer and get off to a fresh start. D’Antoni would be best served working in a much less stressful environment with lower expectations and a quick shooting point guard who can carry out his offense.
CS: D’Antoni had no business ever being employed by the Lakers so it goes without saying he should not be on board during this transitional period. With that said the Lakers are pot-committed what with Mike Brown still on the payroll so if nothing else the team owes it to itself to at least give Coach No D Antoni the opportunity to take his team through camp and into the next season.
DN: Does he deserve a chance? Yes. Should he have gotten the job in the first place? No. And that falls on Jim Buss, not D’Antoni. His system does not fit the Lakers’ personnel and he’s unwilling to adapt to an inside-out style of play. D’Antoni definitely deserves a coaching job in the league, just not with the Lakers – they aren’t exactly getting any younger.