Dwight Howard is gone, Mike D’Antoni is still the coach, and Phil Jackson is likely never returning to the sidelines.
Those are just the realities, and we as fans have two choices: A. Keep chanting “We want Phil!” during games and calling for Mike D’Antoni’s firing or B. Come to grips with the fact that he’s not going anywhere–at least not next season–and be as supportive as possible.
The decision has been made, and although he may not be the best coach out there, we’re stuck with him for next season.
Now, if Carmelo Anthony is truly a possible candidate for the Lakers and they don’t feel Melo (or which ever other star player) and MDA will work out like they didn’t in New York, I’m willing to bet that the Lakers fire him next summer barring a highly over-achieving season.
Many may ask why the Lakers didn’t fire him this season and try to keep Dwight. Simply put, the Lakers could have done that, but they would’ve wasted $12 million on a coach in addition to the amount of money they’d spend hiring a new one. Plus, the Lakers simply didn’t think doing that to appease Howard was worth it, and there was still no guarantee he would’ve stayed, among new revelations about what he wanted in his future as a Laker.
For a player like Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James, however, it would be worth it and they’d only be paying out $4 million for the 2014-2015 season in addition to the new coach’s salary, if they were to fire him after next season (essentially cutting him loose one year ahead of his contract expires).
Right now, the Lakers are restructuring and even if Phil Jackson rode horseback out of Montana all the way back to Los Angeles and said he’d come back to coach, they probably wouldn’t hire him; there would be no need to. Now, if he said he’d come back in 2014 and Kobe Bryant demanded it and it would help lure a big-name free agent, surely they would have to learn from their prior mistake and pull the trigger.
Personally, I feel that Kobe and Pau are still the Lakers’ best chance at success and they both flourish in intricate offenses–like the Triangle. However, Gasol will get many more touches and play more as a center next season, and Kobe can score proficiently in any kind of offense.
For the purposes of next season, however, barring a complete disaster start for the Lakers, Mike D’Antoni is here to stay, so we might as well give it a chance and lay off the negativity.
Lakers fans have done enough complaining for one year, and truth be told, it is one reason Dwight Howard left L.A. (Did you see the backlash he got after he left?!)
At the same time, if you’re not cut out for that kind of criticism from the biggest market in the basketball world, you don’t belong here. Conversely, Mike D’Antoni hasn’t been phased by the negative scrutiny and has actually accepted the challenge head on, to his credit.
Back to the article, though.
The Lakers are in money-saving mode, as witnessed by Metta World Peace being amnestied, so firing D’Antoni in favor of another coach likely won’t happen this year and wouldn’t make sense financially. The Lakers are gearing up to spend big in 2014 on free agents, and possibly on a new coach too (I had to throw you fans that bone).
So, for now, it’s time that we actually embrace Mike D’Antoni and see what his system can do with a full training camp, a few new players, and an added sense of the players he has.
After all, he did finally adjust his coaching philosophy and basically went against everything he likes to do with his teams; he slowed down the pace, posted the ball, and actually was successful with two low-post presences coexisting at the end of the season. It resulted in a finish of 28-12, and Pau Gasol was finally involved in the offense. D’Antoni even did a 180 on his stance on Gasol (after benching him) and realized just how skilled and important he was to the Lakers (he should’ve known Pau’s a baller, though).
Now, with Gasol as the primary low-post presence and the addition of some youth and quickness in Jordan Farmar and Nick Young, the team may not look completely different, but it will have a few added elements to it. If Steve Nash is healthy and Steve Blake continues the level of play he displayed towards the end of the season, it could be a very interesting one.
Luckily, all three of the newest Lakers (Farmar, Young, and Kaman) took significantly less money to come to the Lakers knowing the less-than-desirable state they’re in, and simply knowing that although the aspirations for next season may not be as high as they were a year ago, they’re still the Lakers.
They also came to the Lakers knowing that Mike D’Antoni is going to be the head coach, and have embraced that or at least accepted it.
So, I say let’s embrace the coach and give him a fair chance with an assistant coaching staff of his choosing, a full training camp, and a roster that more naturally fits his system–at least going into the season, anyway.
What better way to stick it to Dwight Howard than saying “Hey, we’re riding with the coach!” (Obviously after the fact, of course.)
Now, if the team starts off 1-9, then I’ll be right there with you calling for his head, yet again.