Apr 26, 2014, 3:33 AM EDT
If you want to see how angry you can make your friend the Lakers’ fan, just read him this next sentence:
The Lakers are bringing back Mike D’Antoni for another season.
That is exactly what will happen, reports Mark Heisler in the Orange County Register. But other well-connected reporters say that is not the case, at least not officially yet.
Here is what Heisler reported:
After 10 days of soul searching, the key figures in Lakers management are agreed on bringing back D’Antoni for a third season as coach, a source with knowledge of the deliberations told the Register…
The Lakers have yet to inform D’Antoni of anything, but they intend to keep him, absolving him of blame for the 27-55 finish without Bryant and Steve Nash for 141 of a possible 162 games…
Jim is aligned with GM Mitch Kupchak, a steadfast D’Antoni defender emerging as an ever-stronger figure with a multi-year extension in the wake of their misadventures.
Other reporters, ones well connected and often breaking Lakers story, say that is not official. Here are a couple:
Lakers management has not met with D'Antoni yet, however. I've said before Lakers are leaning toward keeping D'Antoni, but we'll see.—
KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) April 26, 2014
Kupchak clearly supported D'Antoni's work this season. I will add I heard from someone else recently Jim Buss wasn't sold. Again, we'll see.—
KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) April 26, 2014
I'm told D'Antoni has asked Lakers to pick up his option in year 4 if he's to have any chance of succeeding if he's retained—
Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 26, 2014
Three quick thoughts.
First, all bets are off until GM Mitch Kupchak and D’Antoni sit down and talk and that could be week or more. Things change upon further reflection sometimes. It’s seemed for a while that Kupchak was a D’Antoni supporter, but it was not clear if he could persuade Jim Buss and others to stick with D’Antoni. Ding’s line that they are leaning toward keeping him but nothing is set seems a more probable current reality.
Second, if they do keep D’Antoni it would frustrate the Lakers’ $48 million man Kobe Bryant — who at his age and coming off knee injuries is not a fit for D’Antoni’s uptempo system. Kobe reportedly wants a change but Kupchak has said it’s not Kobe’s call. Keeping D’Antoni would ensure Pau Gasol would not be a Laker next season.
Finally, it would anger Lakers fans. There is a palpable dislike of him among the Lakers fan base and to keep him would be seen as another misstep from a new management they do not trust. There would be genuine anger.
D’Antoni gets more blame for the Lakers’ stumbles than he should — those fans should blame management. All D’Antoni has done since being hired is be himself, that was just obviously and always a bad fit with this roster.
D’Antoni’s system can win — the Miami Heat have won a couple of titles running a lot of it, even the Spurs run parts of it — but he is not terribly flexible about it. D’Antoni wants to play his way, win his way — he is not radically modifying that system to fit the players on the roster. Which is why he was always an odd fit for the Lakers. Last season you had an injured Dwight Howard who doesn’t like the pick-and-roll and an aging Kobe Bryant who couldn’t play at that pace, not to mention the older Steve Nash who couldn’t keep up anymore either. This past season the Lakers still didn’t have a roster that fit the coach’s system well, then on top of that they get desiccated by injuries.
If you’re not going to give D’Antoni a D’Antoni roster, if you’re not fully committed to building his kind of team, then he shouldn’t be your coach. The Lakers are not committed to it — they want to see what big star they can land then figure out the system. So to them, why not keep D’Antoni in place and be entertaining until things sort themselves out?
Because it is just stalling. If you’re going to build a new system, then get the guy to do it.
And in the name of stalling they would take a big public relations hit. Fair or not.
But that seems to be the way the Lakers are leaning.
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