If this is a sign of things to come for the 2014 offseason then I’m just going to avoid the entire thing like the plague.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 2, 2014
Can anybody in the whole wide world of Laker Nation explain this one to me? Please, I’m begging you! Someone explain why in the world the Los Angeles Lakers would keep Mike D’Antoni around for another season? I understand that this Lakers regime doesn’t exactly think as clearly as the Jerry West era; however, I truly didn’t believe that they were this blind. Keeping Mike D’Antoni around for another season is a waste of everybody’s time. The sad part is I believe the ownership knows this to be true.
The Lakers organization has become the laughing stock of the league and everybody knows it. Ever since Phil Jackson “retired” following the 2011 season the team has fallen apart. The hiring of Mike Brown was a complete failure. Who could have anticipated that a coach that failed to win a Championship with LeBron James would be able to come in and lead the Lakers to the promise land with an aging roster? After five games into his second campaign Brown was unceremoniously let go. Next up, the immortal Mike D’Antoni! Jerry Buss was in the hospital and Jim Buss and his ego decide that bringing back Phil Jackson to lead a superstar laden team wasn’t the right move. Nope, he decided that bringing in Mike D’Antoni, a man who hasn’t taught defense since 1986, was the correct decision. We all knew that move wouldn’t work out. Asking Kobe Bryant and a 39-year old Steve Nash to sprint up and down the floor every possession wasn’t wise. Devising a system that wouldn’t maximize the size of the Lakers, with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in tow, was probably one of the dumbest coaching moves in recent memory.
Now, one year later, the Lakers are one of the worst teams in the NBA and will miss the playoffs for the 5th time in their history. And Mike D’Antoni is going to keep his job? What a joke. The Lakers management is clearly going against Kobe Bryant’s wishes to improve the team this offseason, which isn’t a horrible idea. However, you have to improve your coaching staff now in order to attract free agents in the summer of 2015. Not going after Carmelo Anthony this summer, or any other big name free agent not named LeBron James, is the correct decision. The free agent class of 2015 is much better and the Lakers will have more cap space after Steve Nash’s contract expires after the 2014-15 season. However, the Lakers need to get a head start on recruiting those free agents. The best way to do that is to have a healthy Kobe Bryant, a unified organization, and a coach in place that free agents will want to play for. Right now the Lakers have none of those three key components.
Kobe, though he may never be the same player, should be healthy by the 2015 season, which he says will be his last. In the meantime, the Lakers organization needs to become unified and devise a clear vision for the future. That means that Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak all need to be on the same page and find a coach that will fit into their vision. There is absolutely no way that the Lakers organization believes that D’Antoni is the future. No, the only reason the Lakers organization is going to keep D’Antoni for the 2014-15 season is because they don’t want to buyout another coach and pay D’Antoni to NOT be the coach. This is a shortsighted decision and shows that, once again, the organization is playing checkers when they should be playing chess.
This is simply unacceptable for an organization with the klout and panache of the Lakers. Paying a coach to do a substandard job and dig a deeper hole is not what the Los Angeles Lakers stand for, or at least it wasn’t what they stood for under Dr. Jerry Buss. With this front office; however, it may be the new reality.
If this is the new reality then, to be frank, I want no part of it. I’m sure other Laker fans feel the same way.