It is no secret that the Lakers are struggling mightily this season. While a lot of that undoubtedly has to do with the insane number of injuries the Lakers have encountered this season, some blame has to fall on the coach as well.
Ever since Mike D’Antoni was named coach of the Lakers, he has faced intense scrutiny, especially from fans, because many wanted Phil Jackson instead. Coming off an embarrassing 48-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, screams were never higher in calling for the firing of D’Antoni.
While some of the criticism of D’Antoni has been a little excessive at times, it is completely reasonable to wonder whether D’Antoni could lead the Lakers to a championship.
With that being said, we asked our panel of experts: Should Mike D’Antoni be the coach of the Lakers next season? If not, then who should? This is what they had to say:
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): This is a tough one. It really depends on a few factors: Are the Lakers going to spend big this off-season? Are players who the Lakers want to keep happy with D’Antoni? Is Kobe Bryant okay with having D’Antoni as coach next season?
Those are just a few questions management must ask themselves before going forward. If they don’t plan on spending a lot of money on free agents next season, then why spend money by bringing in a new coach, while still having to pay D’Antoni for one more season.
However, if they somehow end up retaining Pau Gasol and/or Jordan Hill — who are valuable pieces but don’t quite love D’Antoni’s system — they’ll have to reconsider.
Most importantly, though, is how Kobe feels about D’Antoni. Yes, he’s coming off a couple of serious injuries and will be in his second-to-last season next year, but it’s still his team as long as he’s in the purple and gold.
Management should definitely seek out his opinion on coaches at the end of the season, and see who he wants coaching him for the final stretch of his career.
Ramneet Singh (@Ramneet24): Mike D’Antoni was bombarded by skeptics with criticism when he was first hired by the Los Angeles Lakers, and all that negativity really has never left the coach. D’Antoni has been put down for his sub-par defensive schemes and many people do not see him as a suitable coach for the Lakers.
The team is currently last in Western Conference with a 22-42 record and will be missing the postseason for the first time in years. However, the Lakers should still have D’Antoni on the sidelines for next season.
Despite popular belief, the Lakers will likely make major improvements to the roster in 2015 and 2016, not 2014. Over the next couple of summers, the Lakers have a chance of acquiring Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, or even Kevin Durant. The front office has planned out the next several seasons and will have the ability to add two of these stars.
There is no real point in firing D’Antoni and paying another high profile coach for what looks to be another mediocre season in 2014-15. D’Antoni does a great job of encouraging young players to play their own game and gives them the confidence to excel on the court.
By getting rid of D’Antoni, the team will have to go through another familiarizing process. It will better for the team to stick with D’Antoni, that is until it comes time to recruit All-Star free agents.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner):The 2013-14 NBA season is drawing to a close with a lot of questions about the future of the franchise moving forward. The Los Angeles Lakers are heading toward a high draft pick and may be big players in the upcoming free agent market this summer or the next.
The real question from here on out is what to do with Mike D’Antoni. With plenty of proven coaches out there looking for another opportunity like George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Jeff Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan, and Stan Van Gundy, there’s no lack of options for the Lakers.
With Phil Jackson no longer an option, or at least that’s the rumor, the Lakers need another coach to right the ship. In my opinion, sticking with D’Antoni moving forward makes no sense. It’s time to move on. D’Antoni’s system doesn’t seem to work with the current roster, and didn’t work last season with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash (for 50 games) and Dwight Howard.
Parting ways with D’Antoni right now or in the off-season makes the most sense to me. If it is during the season, Kurt Rambis can take over for the short-term and Mitch Kupchak and company can look for a replacement this summer.
Time to move on, Lakers.
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