Thursday 23rd October 2014,
The Hoop Doctors

LA Lakers Smart Not to Fire Mike D’Antoni

dfavale January 25, 2013 Dan Favale 7 Comments

The Los Angeles Lakers, well, they suck. But that’s not on Mike D’Antoni. Not entirely.

Barely three months into his tenure in the Land of Make Believe, D’Antoni’s head is already being called for. If Dwight Howard isn’t not-so-subtly complaining about his coaching methods, then Kobe Bryant questioning the direction of the team. And if Pau Gasol isn’t publicly acknowledging his antipathy for his current role, then people are pointing to Los Angeles’ 12-20 record under D’Antoni as a means to abandon ship.

I’m sure you get the gist and understand why D’Antoni’s job is now about as secure as a cornfield.

Or is it?

Per Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, the Lakers have no intention of showing D’Antoni the door:

There’s plenty of heat and speculation — and plenty for Mike D’Antoni to hash out as far as better utilizing his players, including 2013 free agent Dwight Howard — but I was told Thursday the Lakers are not considering a buyout or firing of D’Antoni as head coach.

The Lakers signed D’Antoni to a three-year contract to replace Mike Brown, who was fired Nov. 9.
D’Antoni is 12-20 as Lakers head coach. With the Lakers’ Jan. 15 victory over Milwaukee, D’Antoni got the 400th career victory of his NBA career — the 42nd in NBA history to do so, 34 of them with winning records, like D’Antoni.

But D’Antoni hasn’t won a game since then. The Lakers’ next chance is Friday night, when they begin a three-game homestand against Utah, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.

Surprised?

I’m sure plenty of people are. And I’m also sure even more are irate that Los Angeles isn’t dismissing him, or at least considering it.

But what I’m not sure most people get is that the Lakers’ failures are not on D’Antoni alone—they’re on everyone. It’s not as if Howard is fully healthy and dominating the way he used to, nor is it like Gasol has been open-minded to accepting a role off the bench like Amar’e Stoudemire has. And it’s not as if the Lakers are laden with depth and two-way options either.

Instead, D’Antoni is left coaching an aging, injury-riddled and shallow convocation of athletes who have not been on the court together long enough to learn and subsequently embrace his system or the presences of each other. How is that on him? How is that just on him?

By no means do I feel completely sorry for D’Antoni. The absence of job security is just the nature of the beast in Tinseltown. He should remember as much from his time with the New York Knicks. He also pined and ultimately jumped at the opportunity to take this job, so it’s not as if he is being held in Hollywood against his own will.

But he shouldn’t be forced out of Los Angeles against that very will either.

Photo via nba.si.com.

Broken record style, I feel the need to preach continued patience with regard to the Lakers. Factions of this magnitude take time, especially when the injury bug has hit them harder than most teams in the league.

Is their record acceptable?

Absolutely not. With a payroll that exceeds $100 million, playing sub .500 basketball and toiling with obscurity is inexplicable. And yet, it’s also a testament to how convoluted Los Angeles’ current assembly is.

In the Lakers, we have a roster that is plagued by not only injuries, but inconsistent talent. Aside from Kobe, Howard, Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace, there’s no concrete rotation. And how could there be? Los Angeles (before D’Antoni) pieced together the rest of its roster with a handful of Jodie Meeks’ and Antawn Jamisons’. I mean, you know the Lakers have gotten desperate when Earl Clarks isn’t only playing big minutes, but starting.

That desperation isn’t D’Antoni’s fault. He’s doing the best he can with what he’s been given to work with, and it just hasn’t been good enough, or even close to good enough.

Yet should that cost him his job? Just 32 games into his tenure, should he be unceremoniously canned?

Um, no.

Remember, he wasn’t given a trading camp or even a say in the personnel he was coaching. He needs to at least be given that; he needs to be given into next season to show he has what it takes (or not) and is capable of making the necessary systematic adjustments to get the job done.

Yes, it’s his responsibility to work with what he has, but he didn’t just choose the Lakers, they also chose him. And when that happens, the team–at least to a certain extent—has to be committed to constructing a roster around their coach’s strengths.

Los Angeles hasn’t done that. Not yet, anyway.

And until the Lakers do, there’s no sense in them firing a man who has been given anything but a fair shake up until this point.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

Like this Article? Share it!

Hot Stories On The Web

  • Marty Susman

    Srry but this coach should NEVER have been hired in the first place… You don’t bring a run n gun coach to coach an old slow team… Sorry Nash is just to old & looks foolish on defense… Sorry Dwight should never have been a Laker since he & Kobe have never been buddies & never will…. Sorry this whole mess is at the door of Baby Buss Jimmy who has no concept of what it takes to BUILD a winning team…. Sorry this team will NEVER EVER be a winner regardless of hoe many games they play together…. Sorry the whole bunch needs to be as Magic Johnson said, blown up & a new team needs to take shape for the 2014 & 2015 seasons….. Sorry if Kobe is upset he can pick a team that he wants to go to & the lakers will get some bug 1st round picks for him…. Sorry but the only players I would keep are Kobe, Hill & Clark, the rest can go for new young future studs & sorry don’t get a bunch of players other teams don’t want or need….

    • Dan

      But he was hired. That’s the thing. The Lakers knew what type of system he liked to run and obviously believed in it. Thus, they should be committed to bringing in the players that can excel in it, or publicly back the coach to the point of demanding their players adapt. Yes, MDA needs to adjust his system to fit the needs of Pau and Dwight, but they also need to start buying in themselves. After all, big men have worked within in this blueprint before (see Amar’e). I’m not saying he was the perfect fit, because he wasn’t. Not for this roster. But Los Angeles hired him anyway and can’t fire him (already) based on a performance that isn’t indicative of his ideals. They either need to ask him to change, their players to change or just make some roster changes. Firing him now isn’t the answer, because this isn’t all his fault.

  • Gary McCollum Jr

    If thats the case, they should have never fired Mike Brown

    • Dan

      Well, here’s the thing with Mike Brown. I don’t agree totally with his firing, but he had an entire year beforehand and decided to implement the Princeton offense this season. With D’Antoni, the Lakers knew this was the offense, this was the system he was going to run. If they didn’t think it was a good fit, they shouldn’t have hired him. That they did, however, shows they believed in it. And give that, this also means they should be committed to getting the right players to excel in his system. Obviously, MDA needs to learn to make better adjustments, but the struggles aren’t on him solely. Not one bit.

  • carolyn_carlin@sbcglobal.net

    D’Antoni definitely should be fired. He is an arrogant, stubborn coach who does not have a clue on how to manage superstars. I will give him a pass on his system of play and put that squarely on Jim Buss because he knew D’Antoni’s style when he hird him. It is not ever going to work no matter how healthy they are. They are not a “run and gun” group of athletes. They are post up players and too old for his system. When you have an opportunity to get Phil Jackson for this team and you choose D’Antoni, you should not be in a position to make decisions for the Lakers….I speaking to you Jim Buss!

    • Dan

      Listen, I wouldn’t go as far as to say he can’t manage superstars. He’s done fine with Nash and Amar’e, and even Kobe. He does need to learn to adjust his system to fit his personnel better. That, I will give you. Also, the fact that the players don’t fit his system isn’t necessarily his fault. At all. Lakers hired him, meaning they should be committed to surrounding him with talent that fits his system. It’s not like they didn’t know what type of offense he liked to run, after all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    He wasn’t given a trading camp… I think he means TRAINING camp! Grammar Nazi salute!