The marriage between the Los Angeles Lakers and Coach Mike D’Antoni could very well be coming to an end after this season. The Lakers have compiled the most losses since the franchise moved to Los Angeles and fans have been calling for D’Antoni’s head for most of the season.
While the Lakers insist that no decision has been made on D’Antoni’s future, there have been rumors that he will not return next season. If that turns out to be the case, who will be the next coach of the Lakers?
There have been rumors about who the Lakers would target if D’Antoni is fired, but the latest rumors have linked the team to University of Kentucky head coach, John Calipari. Calipari has been one of the most successful college coaches of the past decade, taking the Wildcats to numerous Final Fours, and sending numerous stars to the NBA.
He has previous NBA experience and has excelled in high pressure situations, but the Lakers are on a whole different level. So we asked our panel of experts, would John Calipari be a good fit as the Lakers next head coach? This is what they had to say:
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): I think Calipari is best suited for the NCAA. His strength is recruiting elite high school kids and allowing their talent to shine through before they leave for the NBA. However, I’m not sold that he’s a great talent developer or has exceptional coaching abilities.
I don’t think he would be a good fit for the Lakers’ rebuilding period and eventual championship aspirations. His teams have not necessarily exceeded expectations each season. Typically, he has the most talented team and in the NCAA.
Additionally he’s 55 years old and has been a head coach for 26 years, so there is limited upside for him if the Lakers hire him as coach. He did try his hand at the NBA and ended up going 72-112 before getting fired 20 games into his third season.
Personally I’d rather have Kevin Ollie, the up-and-coming coach from UConn who just won his first title in his first-ever NCAA tourney, over Calipari himself. The former NBA point guard seems like a no-nonsense kind of guy who has done a great job at developing and motivating his players in a short time.
This year, he clearly exceeded all expectations with his team, which is an indicator of great coaching. His best coaching days are likely ahead of him so for him to realize success at such an early stage in his coaching career is impressive.
Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015): I don’t think John Calipari would be a good fit as coach of the Lakers next season.
Aside from his poor record as coach of the New Jersey Nets from 1996-1999, I believe Calipari’s coaching style and his strengths are best suited for the college game. Plus, on top of it normally being difficult to make the jump from the college ranks to the NBA, Calipari would be stepping into a pressure-packed situation with the Lakers.
There are the normal expectations that come with being coach of the Lakers and they’ve been multiplied tenfold by Kobe Bryant’s public statements that the franchise needs to win now and not rebuild — not exactly the best circumstances for an unproven NBA coach to step into.
Then of course, there’s Calipari’s checkered past at UMass and Memphis; how much blame can be placed on him is debatable, but he’s a common link. As for his latest run of success at Kentucky, it’s been largely built on one and done players — a concept that doesn’t translate to the NBA.
Ultimately, I believe the Lakers need someone with more NBA experience and if Mike D’Antoni is fired and they decide to look to the college level for a replacement, Mike Krzyzewski would be a better candidate, albeit not a very realistic one.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): It is hard to see a future in which Mike D’Antoni is coaching the Lakers and leading the team back to dominant status in the Western Conference. At this point in time, it is pretty clear that isn’t going to happen and the team will part ways eventually.
With that being said, the candidates to replace him are starting to emerge. Perhaps the biggest name linked to a potential vacancy at head coach has been Kentucky’s John Calipari.
Although it may be a stretch to bring in Calipari, I believe if there’s even the slightest possibility then the Lakers brass needs to make it happen.
A lot of people will be skeptical of the move, but let’s face it, no one is going to top the job Phil Jackson or Pat Riley did with this franchise. I don’t care who you bring in outside of say Gregg Popovich, no one is going to surpass what Jackson or Riley was able to accomplish with the Lakers.
With that being said, I believe bringing in Calipari would be a game-changer. There’s no telling if it would ultimately work out, but it will show free agents and other teams around the league that the Lakers are willing to continue making moves in order to compete.
So just in terms of the statement it makes and the potential free agent draw it could result in, signing Calipari would be a step in the right direction for the Lakers moving forward.
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