As we are nearing a decision on Mike D’antoni’s fate, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles reported that Mike D’antoni is pressing the Lakers management for a quick decision. He also wants the Lakers to pick up the option for his 4th year. In effect that would guarantee that he would be the Lakers head coach for two more years, this year and next year. Next year is the free agent class the Lakers are investing their hopes in. Negotiating with D’antoni at their side would make a stunning statement, saying everything by saying nothing, just pointing to D’antoni and his zero championship rings. It is equal to telling prospective players to come here but there will be no playoffs, no defense, no rebounding, no rings, no championships, none of the details that gets you to the playoffs and what makes you a champion. Young players will come in droves. But nobody who is a veteran in this league and has paid their dues and wants to win would sign over three or four years to play for Mike D’antoni.
Let’s examine the logic of this, of D’antoni. If you are Kevin Durant, you can go back home to Washington and play with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Why suffer through D’antoni’s miserable defense? How can the Lakers pitch Kevin Love or Kevin Durant to play for D’antoni when D’antoni has alienated almost every post player he has ever coached, when he refuses to form relationships with his players, when he is never accountable for what he does wrong. How do you sell that?
But I don’t blame D’antoni in asking for job security. He knows a one year deal makes him a lame duck coach. In the NBA that gives him no authority. In that scenario the players-Kobe and crew- will have no reason to invest in his system. Why bother? They know he is going to be gone in six months. But the funny thing is- D’antoni assumes he is the one with leverage in this situation. Someone who can actually make demands. This from a coach who brought an organization their worst season in Los Angeles history. A coach who alienated one of the most prideful and skilled big men. Whose defense was the worst defense in Lakers history. That takes a lot of guts. If he only showed this much guts coaching the Lakers big men .
Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports reported that the Lakers are reluctant to offer D’antoni the second year and for good reason. It’s a death sentence for the free agent market. Bringing D’antoni back for just one year is going to be drama on its own. Kobe didn’t buy into D’antoni last year. He scrapped his offense and played the way he knows how to play, a hybrid Phil Jackson get into the paint type of game. With Kobe going off the island and instituting his own offense instead of the D’antoni offense the tension and fireworks are going to start early. And D’antoni wants two years of that, the last two years of Kobe’s career?
Marc Spears also reported that D’antoni is optimistic about coming back. Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report reported there is a split in the Lakers front office. Kupchak is supportive of D’antoni but Jim Buss is on the fence. Who would have guessed Jim Buss would take the fans side? D’antoni’s optimism notwithstanding, no meetings are scheduled and why would they be? Season ticket renewals are due May 19th, the day before the lottery. Some fans are already talking about letting go of their season tickets if D’antoni returns. Others fans are talking about a Frank McCourt style boycott. Jim Buss says he will step down in 3-4 years if the Lakers aren’t contenders. It might take a decade for the Lakers to recover from two more years of Mike D’antoni.