Should Mike D'Antoni Stay or Go?

The Lakers season has mercifully ended. The final result was a 27-55 record, the worst in Los Angeles Lakers history. The most notable loss came on March 6, as the Lakers fell to hallway rivals, the Clippers 142-94, the worst defeat in franchise history. The team this year gave up over 130 points in a game seven times, and gave up over 140 points three different times. Head Coach Mike D’Antoni is in the position to be the fall guy for the Lakers this offseason. Two disappointing years, mixed with some of the worst distinctions in franchise history seem like a perfect recipe for D’Antoni to find himself unemployed this offseason, right?

Well after the exit interviews took place this week, I’m not so sure that’s how the Lakers are feeling. Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss gave D’Antoni a 4-year contract, which means he still has two remaining seasons at about $4 million per yer. Although the Lakers make a whole lot of cash, they aren’t in the business of paying multiple coaches at the same time in perpetuity. The Lakers still have to pay Mike Brown, the Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach, for one more season. Firing D’Antoni means the team will be paying three coaches next year, an unappealing proposition for any team.

Kupchak was calm during his exit interview and didn’t give off any impression that firing D’Antoni was an imminent decision. The two will speak at some time in the next two weeks after a little more time has passed. D’Antoni will hope that the front office realizes what it had given him to work with this season. Cast-offs, D-Leaguers, and lottery busts littered this roster. Add in the fact that players missed a combined 319 games due to injury and that Kobe only played in 6 games. What more could the front office expect from this? The Lakers haven’t had a first round pick that has played for the team for 5 consecutive years since Andrew Bynum was drafted in 2005 (Jordan Farmar was drafted in 2006, but then left for the Nets and the Turkish League). Without adding a least a couple of young pieces through the draft every once in a while, coupled with the new CBA’s harsher restrictions, the Lakers were always going to end up in this position.

Mike D’Antoni wasn’t the reason the Lakers were bad this year. Having to play the likes of Robert Sacre, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall, and Ryan Kelly in crunch time would result in a 27-55 record for almost any coach. The Lakers team this year had less potential and talent than almost any other team in the NBA, 76ers aside. The Lakers need to re-evaluate their medical staff. Mike D’Antoni isn’t the reason people are getting injured. Plenty of other NBA teams play fast and don’t miss 319 games due to injury.  I though D’Antoni did a good job of developing some of the younger players this year and did all he could with what he was given.

And if not D’Antoni, then who? Byron Scott seems like a fan favorite, but he’s just another retread former Head Coach who hasn’t had any meaningful success. Kurt Rambis was supposed to be the defensive coach for the team this year and look how that turned out. Mike Krzyzewski isn’t going to leave Duke for this rebuilding job (although if the Lakers draft Jabari…). D’Antoni is simply one of the best options available. That is the reality of the situation. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought there was no way D’Antoni could survive the season. But now, it looks like he has a real chance of coaching this team next season. 

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers Mike D'antoni Mitch Kupchak

  • Marcel Mobley

    his teams dont rebound are play defence well gotta go!!!!!!

  • niner559

    Let’s not use the excuse of “the players” to allow d’antoni to keep his job. His system is fundamentally flawed. Every coach has his players he is given. It is the coaches job to put then in a position to compete. Change his system to fit the team. Is d’antoni capable of this…ever?

  • Fangface

    He’s a flop. His system doesn’t work anymore and he refuses to change with the times. If he’s not gone LA will riot..

    • hookedonnews

      His system is the basis for most offenses in the league. LA is not going to riot, and to suggest that is ridiculous and typical of the kind of irrationality that has gone on the last 2 seasons among some fans.

      • Dino Madness

        The system is not the problem, D’Antoni’s unwillingness to adjust is the problem. Miami has already proven that a hybrid system of D’Antoni can win championships unfortunately D’Antoni has proven over and over that he cannot adjust to what he has available. He is an all or nothing type of person. If Jim Buss is foolish enough to keep D’Antoni we will loose Kaman, Hill and Gasol. No talented centers or power forwards will want to come here and play for the Lakers unless they are stretch four’s or stretch five’s type of players. We will not move forward as long as D’Antoni is the coach.

        • hookedonnews

          The often stated premise that D’Antoni cannot adjust was disproven last season when he was using a low-post offense with Howard & Gasol and had the best record in the West after the All-Star game. He has also shown a willingness to adjust to Kobe’s game. I don’t think lack of adjustments were the problem this season. You probably believe that putting Kaman & Gasol on the floor together and running some kind of slow-down half-court offense would have resulted in a more successful season. Well, the numbers don’t bear that out plus the fact that Gasol was not healthy until the last part of the season, and Kaman was in and out with one injury after another. Injuries and subpar talent were the problem, not an inability to adjust on the part of MDA.

          The idea that there’s no focus on defense is also false. If you’ve ever listened to what goes on during a game or listen to MDA or other coaches or players before and after games, you would know that there was an emphasis on defense. However, you need good defenders and a stable lineup to have any defensive consistency, and you have to limit turnovers on the offensive end.

          If you’ll look around the league at the centers and PFs, I don’t think any of them would have a problem playing for D’Antoni. I don’t see any Shaq’s out there. I see big men who can run the floor and shoot. Now, if they want to play back-to-the-basket and trot up and down the floor at half-speed they probably wouldn’t be a good fit in LA or on most other teams.

          The idea that D’Antoni is a dead-end is something that has to be proven with a healthy roster that has more than a bunch of players who are good bench players at best. He’s proven in the past that he can be successful with the right players.

          • Connector

            hookedonnews, you are so off base, I have to believe that you must be related to that buffoon. You think you know what’s going on in this league? You don’t! He does not adjust his style to what he has on the floor. Never has; never will. He doesn’t make adjustments at half-time, even if they’re getting killed. He’s totally one-dimensional: offense only. Sure, he talks a good defensive game (if you can understand what he says with his mumbling and slurred speech), but he doesn’t coach it. Big difference! Furthermore, how can you even mention Howard and Gasol in trying to defend him? Howard left because of him. And, Gasol will surely leave, especially if they decide to keep D’Antoni. You can make all the excuses you want for him, but it doesn’t wash anymore.

          • hookedonnews

            Sorry, but I’m not related to MDA. I hate to keep going over this same ground but you’re forcing me to. Did you watch the games from the All-Star break on last season? Did you not see a change in the offensive schemes once Gasol got healthy and Howard decided to cooperate and also got heathier? You, like a lot of other people parrot the same things, but they don’t comport with the facts. Steve Nash has said that they never played MDA’s system last year. If you ever saw D’Antoni’s Suns play you know there was no mistaking last year’s Lakers for that team. They had no training camp, a continuing stream of injuries, and virtually no practices because of the injury situation. They were a team in search of an identity and finally found it after the All-Star break. Now if MDA was inflexible and stubborn you would have seen an offense like the one you’ve seen this year when he had the players who could actually operate in his system, but that’s not what you saw.

            What you don’t seem to get (and you’re not the only one) is that MDA was brought to LA because of his system. Dr. Buss wanted to return to Showtime, not a Triangle redux. Even this season you haven’t seen MDA’s system like it was run in Phoenix because of the injury problems that Nash had and because the Lakers didn’t have that kind of talent on the floor. Their best players were injured for a lot of the season, and they had no Amare-type player to run pick and rolls with. Gasol was given the freedom to post-up when he wanted to and so was Kobe for those few games he played. You’re probably going to argue about Gasol, but if you’ll go back and listen to D’Antoni’s comments about the situation and actually watch what went on in games in the last half of the season when Pau decided to get aggressive and stop settling for outside shots or passing the ball, you’ll find that what I’m saying is true. Gasol is not crazy about the system, but he proved he can play in it.

            Anyone who followed the Dwight Howard saga knows he left because of Kobe. The people around Howard have confirmed it. He wanted Kobe amnestied. Even MWP said that when Kobe said he was going to play another 2 or 3 years he knew Howard wasn’t going to stick around. Was MDA Howard’s favorite coach? No, but he’s not the reason he left. He’s playing in a similar system in Houston, still has no post-game, and can’t make a FT in crucial situations. There were other things that made Houston a more attractive option in his eyes as well. He never wanted to come to LA in the first place and wasn’t going to put up with Kobe another 3 years. There was always the chance that MDA would be fired, but he knew that Kobe was going to be there.

            I don’t know if Gasol will leave if D’Antoni stays. I think the FO will make him a decent offer, and I’m not sure that he’s going to get the kind of offers he thinks he will from other teams. He’s still a good player, but his health is a question and his defense is non-existent. There are a lot of younger, more athletic players out there. I would like to see him stay, but I wouldn’t fire a coach to make that happen.

            I have made no excuses. 319 games lost due to injury. Kobe played 6 games, and Nash around 14 (and not that many minutes in some of those games). Gasol was not healthy for the first half of the season, and Farmar, Blake, Meeks, Henry, and Young all missed chunks of the season. What was left was a decent group of bench players, a D-Leaguer, and a rookie who were expected to compete with CP3, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James. Who needs excuses?

            I don’t know what kind of adjustments you think can be made with that kind of a roster, but maybe I missed something. I saw GS get killed by the Clippers in their last game. Maybe Mark Jackson should have made some adjustments at half-time.

          • Dino Madness

            I think hookedonnews contradicts way too much, he might be a troll but a very well spoken insidious troll. Never there to insult anyone but to create acrimony with his sleazily twisted comments.

          • Dino Madness

            I’ll agree to disagree because after the all star break players just stop listening to D’Antoni. It was the defiance of Kobe, Gasol and Dwight that force D’Antoni’s hand because he was just fine to keep going against the wall. No decent centers or power forwards will want to come to L.A. just to have D’Antoni ruin their careers. Hill, Gasol and Kaman deserve better coaching than what they got from D’Antoni. When you have a speed up game that’s out of control you get more injuries. We never had this type of insane injuries until D’Antoni got here before we had injuries just like any other team but now with D’Antoni is gone to the extreme.

            D’Antoni had his chance it didn’t work out and most of the blame goes to management for picking a coach with a fast pace offense and trying to make it fit with an old veteran team that could not run. The one thing that I remember was when we hire D’Antoni people from New York came to pages like this one to ridicule the Lakers and they made all kinds of dire predictions, in the end all the Knicks fans were proven right.

          • hookedonnews

            Pace does not equal injuries, and NY is just as dysfunctional or more now than it was when D’Antoni left there. There are plenty of teams who play with pace who have older players. Hill has had the best numbers of his career this season, and Gasol has had a good season once he got healthy. I don’t think Kaman’s career was hurt, and he recently defended D’Antoni. If you call what happened this season a chance, you have a very narrow definition of that term.

      • Fangface

        Don’t be an idiot. I don’t mean literally. And read the post below. Dino sums it up nicely for me..

        • hookedonnews

          I’m the idiot? Sorry, but you’re the one who said it and I’m not a mind-reader.

  • Spen418

    Gotta go Gotta go. We can’t attract Free Agent’s with him as our Head Coach, which means even players on other teams would not want to play for him. He’d be good for collage ball.

  • Jim213

    Good luck to jim if he’s going to risk his position with Mike.

  • stucktrader

    Mabe George Karl?… No way Sloan is coming without knowing exactly who is drafted…

    Steve Kerr would be interesting… if only to rub it in on the supposed connection with Phil and NYK… BUT he is one guy that’s played under Phil and Pop… he has some idea what the GM world is like, so has some eye for talent…

    We’ll see.

  • Daryl Peek

    This article is very sensible but we already know the angry mob will not accept reason. I wont say a B. Scott couldn’t have success as Lakers HC but the article is correct in stating the retread theme. MDA may very well end up a scapegoat but if retained he may do better than most will presently admit to given personal biases.

    For all of the gripes and internal drama from last season the team still competed in going 40-32 under MDA and stood a real shot at beating the Spurs if not for the injuries to Kobe, Nash, Blake and Meeks. I’m sure many will attack this comment in saying the D’Antoni system is the reason for the injuries. I will not reply as that is ridiculous and I’m tired of arguing it. Last season with better talent 1-12 the team was better than the present D12 Rockets defensively and would be tied for 14th in the NBA this season with the Clippers in defensive ranking, at 101 PPG yielded. Those Lakers were 4th best in rebounding last season. When you look at the numbers between each season it’s clear talent was the difference but no one wants to thoroughly investigate the details.

  • Jerry Arthur Newcomb

    a homeless person would be better than D’Antoni

  • John Fleischmann

    JUST GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLEASE and take D’umbtoni with you!!!!

  • ersliva

    fire this lazy coach who doesn’t actually know the game….because it takes coaching at both ends to win titles…and it takes a real coach weho knows basketball on how to use all his players that very from short to tall and this guy doesn’t know crap except how to coach short people on how to run and gun….which isn’t really an offensive set…its just like playing at the park…but the difference between playing at the park and playing for him is they play defense at the park….and know how to defend as well while he gets them to forget how to defend….thusly it seems every time a players starts playing good defense and instead of trying to score tries to set his teammate up to defend he benches them because it slows the pace down at the defensive end instead of letting them go by and get a 50 50 or better shot at scoring…

  • jalee

    He should as well as Buss. A disaster!

  • bandaidcuts

    kidding me? he should not be allowed to even attend the lakers games even if he pays for the tickets!

  • fm30

    He has to go not because of the team’s failure but he has to go because he can’t stay because of pressure.

  • George Robert Freeman

    Nobody has respect for Pringles. He has got to go.

  • hookedonnews

    I agree. Firing him would make no sense at this point. Fans may scream, but they’re not the ones having to cover his salary.

  • jeff

    He’s a stubborn old fool who holds grudges on his players and doesn’t let go. I really don’t like the way he leaves productive players on the bench and runs some into the ground.

  • Jan

    This is a question mostly everyone knows, he needs to go we dont want him coaching a team like the lakers go coach the d league

  • sean d

    Its not Dantoni’s fault that the lakers were stupid enough to hire him in the first place knowing his system wasn’t the right fit, it also wasn’t his fault that he had to work with a stubborn egotistic prick in dwight howard who never wanted to play in LA in the 1st place,and on top of that, kobes big ego! And its not his fault he had a fragile roster either. It was simply bad karma for the entire lakers organization. Does that mean im in favor of Dantoni’s return, HELL NO! But just simply stating the facts.. if theres anyone to blame it needs to start up top with the ownership down to management. .