When it comes to matters of Mike D’Antoni and the Los Angeles Lakers, I give up. Their relationship is complicated, compounded by being a big-market team in the midst of the worst season in franchise history and playing host to an overwhelming number of rumors and speculation and questions and various other crap.
One day, D’Antoni is gone, stabbed not in the back, but in the face by a Lakers team that clearly doesn’t want him in charge. The next, he’s close to safe, likely to return next season whether the fire-breathing Kobe Bryant likes it or not.
Admittedly, the general consensus has been pretty damn consistent of late. Consistent for the Lakers and D’Antoni—the most inconsistent coach-to-team relationship there is outside of the New York Knicks and Mike Woodson—at least. Daily returns have D’Antoni out, someone else in, be it John Calipari, Quin Snyder, Lionel Hollins or Christ almighty himself.
That consistency died following the Lakers’ final game at Staples Center this season. According to ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers aren’t going to rush into any D’Antoni-related decision:
The evaluation process will also include D’Antoni, who has another season at $4 million owed to him and a team option for another beyond that. While there is widespread sentiment in the organization that D’Antoni never really got a fair shake, it might not matter.
The team is unlikely to make a decision on D’Antoni immediately after the season, sources indicate. While there have been conflicting reports on which way the team might be leaning on that decision, the truth is there’s a lot of information from around the league they need to consider before doing so, and there’s not a huge rush.
A lack of urgency doesn’t say much for what the Lakers have planned this summer. Their dream of landing Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James or some other star has been dead for a while, but if they were interested in rekindling said fantasies, figuring out what coach they would be selling prospective free agents on would sit near the top of their priority list.
If you’re D’Antoni, this is good news.
It means he has a chance to return next season.
And that’s good news, right?
As Shelburne explains, D’Antoni also has some decisions of his own to make:
D’Antoni still has his supporters in the Lakers organization, and quite frankly, he himself has to decide if he wants to return for another season with the limitations he has had since coming to L.A. last November. Namely, the inability he has had to truly install the offensive concepts that earned him guru status back in his glory days in Phoenix. Last season, Dwight Howard and the Lakers’ aged roster were the main reasons for that. This season, there was a noticeable friction between the way D’Antoni wanted the team to play and the way Bryant and Gasol were most comfortable playing. And then of course came the rash of injuries that left the Lakers scrambling just to find enough bodies to scrimmage in practice on most days.
This three-ring circus has really come a long way, hasn’t it? Imagine D’Antoni willingly leaving one of the most storied franchises in NBA history…again. He pulled a similar vanishing act in New York when Anthony wouldn’t bend to his offensive will. The man has morals. Give him that.
But he might not have a job next season. Not in Los Angeles. He might not even want it. All the losing coalesced with deficient control could be the ultimate turn off, especially since next season doesn’t look like it’s going to be much better.
Should the Lakers decide to wing it until 2015, when they can chase Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo and whomever else they want, this summer will be about additional patchwork, plugging holes with players on affordable one-year deals. Few coaches would want to associate themselves with a season similar to this. Even fewer would want to do so knowing Bryant will presumably be healthy, whispering not-so-sweet, totally sadistic, overly graphic threats into your ear all season.
So who screws who over first? Does D’Antoni leave the Lakers, or do they kick him to the curb?
Or does this thing drag out, never reaching resolution, delivering us one more season of convoluted drama and absolute B.S.?
One can only guess at this point, until the next dose of chatter is delivered, at which point they’ll have to guess again.
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.