There had been conflicting reports for weeks on the status of Mike D’Antoni. Some thought he would stay another year while others reported the Lakers would fire him after the season.
In the end, D’Antoni would decide to resign as head coach of the Lakers, presumably because the Lakers refused to pick up the fourth-year option on D’Antoni’s contract.
D’Antoni had to deal with a number of things outside of his control, most notably never being accepted by the fans due to him being chosen over Phil Jackson and the immense amount of injuries the Lakers have dealt with the last two seasons.
Despite that, his style never seemed to fit with the Lakers, and many fans celebrated the fact that the Lakers will now move on from the coach who posted the worst win percentage in the history of the franchise.
Now the question is where do the Lakers go from here? A number of names have already been floated, but this will likely be a drawn out coaching search.
With that being said, we asked our panel of experts for their reaction the news of D’Antoni’s resignation, and who they believe will be the next coach of the Lakers. This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Now that Mike D’Antoni has decided to move on, the search for a new head coach begins with the Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of options to explore.
The best option in my opinion is Tom Thibodeau. It may be incredibly difficult for the Lakers to snatch Thibodeau away from the Chicago Bulls, but GM Mitch Kupchak and company seem intent on reaching out regardless.
With Thibodeau, the Lakers get a huge upgrade on the defensive side of the basketball floor and a coach players love to play for. Thibodeau was also a part of Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching staff with Team USA, giving him experience managing big-name players and Kobe Bryant.
If Thibodeau turns out to be unrealistic, and that may prove to be the case, hiring Byron Scott or Derek Fisher might be the right way to go. Both former Lakers have a close relationship with Kobe and ties to the organization. It may make for an easier transition to bring in a familiar face with so much uncertainty moving forward.
Ultimately, Thibodeau is the best option for the Lakers if Kupchak can figure out a way to pull it off. If not, I’d go with Byron Scott or Derek Fisher. Scott may be the better of the two considering his coaching experience at the NBA level.
Kevin Chan (@kevin_cruiser): D’Antoni’s resignation was a huge relief to Lakers fans. Even though he had to deal with a plethora of injury issues this season, his coaching style was never going to lead the Lakers back to elite status.
D’Antoni’s all offense, no defense style was not sustainable for long-term success. That’s the hard truth. He’s also shown an inability to adapt his coaching style to his personnel. He never quite figured out how to best utilize Gasol properly or adapt to an aging Kobe.
The issues extended beyond poor defense this year to historically terrible defensive rebounding. Basically D’Antoni was going from bad to worse and I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Lakers fired him after this season. I was actually quite shocked that D’Antoni voluntarily resigned which was likely a result of the Lakers unwillingness to pick-up his option for the 2015-16 season.
Now that the D’Antoni chapter is closed, where do the Lakers go from here? There are no clear coaching candidates for the job at this point. I’d love to see the Lakers take some calculated risks and not go with “safe” choices like Byron Scott or Mike Dunleavy whose best days are behind them.
I’d like to see them hire an up-and-coming coach from either the NBA assistant coaching ranks or the NCAA. If you look around the NBA, there are promising new head coaches springing up everywhere such as Steve Clifford, Jeff Hornacek, Mike Budenholzer, and Brad Stevens, all of whom has shown great potential.
The Lakers need to hire someone with substantial upside, and now is the perfect time since the franchise is in rebuilding mode. Furthermore, the Lakers need to nail this coaching hire. They can’t afford to make another mistake after two straight misses with Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni. This will be the Lakers third coach in four seasons.
Personally, I’m an advocate for Kevin Ollie and think he’d be the perfect fit for a number of reasons. He grew up in LA and played at Crenshaw High School. He’s also a former NBA player who spent 13 years in the league. He’s widely respected by his peers and will have no trouble gaining the respect of NBA stars.
Ollie has also realized success early in his head coaching tenure with UConn and won an NCAA title in his first ever trip to the big dance. His best coaching days are clearly ahead of him and it’d be wise for the Lakers to give Ollie strong consideration.
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): Mike D’Antoni didn’t get a fair shake as the Lakers’ head coach, as he had to deal with an incredible amount of injuries over two seasons. Having said that, he was never the right fit for this team.
The resignation should be good news for fans as it avoids conducting a training camp for a coach who very well could have been fired early on next season if things didn’t start out well. That was my gut feeling, anyway.
At this point, I’m not sure exactly who the Lakers should target. I can only say I believe they should go with a coach who has a system that fits their personnel and the way they want to play.
First, management has to decide if they want to play a style similar to the one that’s always won them championships — which is through post play from an elite big men — or if they want to follow the trend of the league and play a smaller, faster paced game.
In either event, the Lakers should seek out a coach who fits those ideals. They should also consult with Kobe Bryant and make him part of the decision making process.
Mike D’Antoni Resigns As Lakers Head Coach – Magic Johnson Says He Couldn’t Be Happier