Skip to content

Lower expectations next season should give Mike D’Antoni a real chance with the Lakers

Jul 21, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT

New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni smiles during a media conference after practice at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo, California Reuters

Mike D’Antoni was placed into a situation as head coach of the Lakers last season where he never really had a fair chance to succeed.

The hope in Los Angeles this year is that due to expectations being lowered significantly from the championship-or-bust mentality that (rightfully) surrounded the team a season ago, D’Antoni won’t be under as much pressure, and therefore, may be able to work some level of magic with the players he’ll have on the roster.

In other words, he might actually have a shot.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

Several times last season, D’Antoni paraphrased Winston Churchill in describing his approach to the Lakers’ ups and downs, “When you’re going through hell, you put your head down and keep going, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The pressure of a $100 million payroll that was built to be a contender and was struggling just to play .500 ball was persistent and intense. The Lakers are hoping that [Dwight Howard]’s departure will perhaps act as a sort of pressure release valve heading into the upcoming season.

“Expectations should be lower and I think that will ease the pressure on him,” said a source familiar with the Lakers front office’s thinking.

Never mind the fact that D’Antoni took over the team five games into the season after the unexpected yet deserved firing of Mike Brown, who had spent all of training camp trying to install a complicated offensive system that the players seemed to resist.

In addition to trying to right the ship once the season had already started, the injuries suffered by the Lakers reached comical levels before things were through, and the constant lineup shuffling made it impossible to see what D’Antoni might’ve been capable of without his best players available to play together for anything more than very small stretches.

None of that stopped the constant and scathing over-analysis, however, and as Howard will be the first to tell you, it was anything but fun to be in that situation.

It will be interesting to see what D’Antoni can do given a full training camp, and given the fair amount of talent added to the roster in the form of Chris Kaman, Nick Young, and Jordan Farmar.

There will be no intense pressure to win night in and night out, and the scrutinization of the team’s shortcomings by the media will be minimal, at best. If next season does indeed turn out to be a disaster, the blame will firmly be placed on D’Antoni’s shoulders. But no matter how it all plays out, he’ll be able to say that at least this time, he was given a fighting chance.

Latest Posts
  1. 67RIEFNS No. 28: Erik Spoelstra proving his chops

    Oct 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Erik Spoelstra Erik Spoelstra

    Heat coach attempting to win first playoff series without LeBron James

  2. 67RIEFNS No. 27: Chandler Parsons in the spotlight

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT

    Preseason - Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Rockets downgraded Parsons, but he’ll have a chance to reach new heights with Mavericks

  3. Phil Jackson breaks down the Knicks roster. He’s high on Shumpert, says Carmelo must move ball

    Oct 22, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

    Phil Jackson has spoken to the media more than the previous three GMs ever did, I think.

  4. Commissioner Adam Silver talked television money, what it could mean for potential 2017 lockout

    Oct 22, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    “ We still have roughly a third of our teams that are not profitable under the current system, despite revenue sharing.” —Adam Silver

  5. Other highlights from NBA’s GM survey: Some thought Chicago had better summer than Cleveland

    Oct 22, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    Oddest vote of the survey — 10.7 percent of GMs thought Chicago had a better offseason than Cleveland.

  6. Jeff Van Gundy: Confusing a system (like the Triangle Offense) with reason for success is ‘a huge mistake’

    Oct 22, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson answers questions at a post-game news conference following Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas Reuters

    Van Gundy says players are responsible for wins and losses, not systems — like the one Phil Jackson is bringing to the Knicks this season.

  7. Five top candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year

    Oct 22, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks

    This could be the year a big man breaks the string of guards winning the award.

  8. Paul Pierce on players switching teams in free agency: ‘It’s a great thing for our league’

    Oct 22, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT

    Paul Pierce AP

    Pierce played 15 years for the Celtics, but is now with his second new team in as many seasons with the Wizards.

  9. Celtics trying to trade Will Bynum, who they recently acquired from Pistons

    Oct 22, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Boston is hoping to get an asset in return for Bynum instead of simply waiving him.

  10. NBA GMs surveyed predict LeBron will win MVP, Spurs will repeat as champions

    Oct 22, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

    There are plenty more interesting tidbits in the league’s annual survey.

  11. Owners vote down NBA Draft lottery reform, system to stay same for this season

    Oct 22, 2014, 11:23 AM EDT

    David Griffin, Jeff Cohen David Griffin, Jeff Cohen

    It may come up again, but for one more season at least Philadelphia’s uber-tanking system will pay dividends.

Featured video

Lakers, Celtics among lottery bound teams
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (4526)
  2. B. Lopez (4188)
  3. D. Rose (3919)
  4. J. Lin (3861)
  5. E. Payton (3850)