Every time I listen to sports radio, there’s an ongoing joke.
“Attention Laker fans, I would like to make an announcement. Mike D’Antoni is still the head coach of the Lakers.” - ESPN Radio
This has been going on since the rumors of John Calipari wanting the job during the NCAA tournament and through Marshall University’s interest of Mike D’Antoni as a head coach.
It’s also easy to understand Laker fans’ frustration when it comes to Mike D’Antoni. The team doesn’t rebound well. The team doesn’t defend well.
Why do the Lakers have to decide soon? That’s simple.
The New York Knicks are looking to make a move. Chances are, they’re going to pick the best available coaching talent. Now, while what fits the Knicks best may not fit the Lakers best, but, it is possible that the Knicks will pry away talent that the Laker organization may want.
Welcome to the chess game. We’re going after the king, or the opponent gets check mate.
Here’s a short defense for Mike D’Antoni. He never had a healthy roster. When the Lakers ran his offensive scheme, it ran very well. The Lakers were highly competitive against the best teams in the league, and won a few games against them. It just wasn’t consistent. Don’t buy injuries as an excuse? Ever work in a workplace where coworkers were absent, or just a revolving door of talent? Stability in-house never occurs, and overall success is never reached.
Who else is available? Lionel Simmons, George Karl, and the Van Gundy brothers are popular names. There is a case to be made for each of them, especially George Karl, who is the most tenured with plenty of playoff experience that spans decades. My wish for Jerry Sloan would never happen, but that’s just personal opinion.
The Lakers do need to decide on what is best for the team. Do they continue with an offensive style that Mike D’Antoni is adamant on? Or do they continue with what the players are best at?
Ironically, Mike D’Antoni’s style is actually similar to what the Lakers ran in the 80′s. They ran seven seconds or less. They pushed the ball upcourt and were among the league leaders in fast break points. When that option was gone, guys like Byron Scott were taking midrange shots early in the shotclock. He even led the team in scoring for a year right at 22 points per game.
Now, Laker fans want that. They just want the defense and rebounding to go with it. The 80′s Lakers teams forced turnovers and had the advantage of a point guard who rebounded like a power forward. That pushed the tempo. That drew fouls on the defense. That put opponents on their heels and kept the team in every game. They outran everybody.
Yes, Mike D’Antoni is still the head coach of the Lakers. Yes, his focus is on offensive style and efficiency. Did anyone care to think that the Laker roster doesn’t have the defensive talent to rebound or force turnovers like the 1980′s Lakers? Miami is a weaker rebounding team, but they have so much quickness defensively, they trap other teams into bad shots and force turnovers any way. Pat Riley wouldn’t have it any other way.
The question is, what way, as a Laker fan, would you want the Laker team improved? Keep D’Antoni’s style and improve the talent? Or slow down the team to mask some deficiencies and keep similar talent on the team?
Decide soon, before Phil Jackson gets your king.