Are you ready for Year 3? Can you feel the excitement? Yeah, me neither.
After 10 days of soul searching, the key figures in Lakers management are agreed on bringing back D’Antoni for a third season as coach, a source with knowledge of the deliberations told the Register.
Nothing has been officially announced by the Lakers and they are not commenting on the report. According to some reports, D’Antoni is asking for his 4th year optioned to be picked up. However, it would seem that the Lakers brass is united in brining back D’Antoni. While many will speculate as to why the Lakers are going to bring back a coach who “led” them to the worst winning percentage and worst record in franchise history, the answers are clear.
The Lakers organization is clearly building for the future and they do not foresee themselves competing for a championship next season, much to the dismay of Kobe Bryant and Laker Nation. While I do not believe that the Lakers front office is incorrect for holding these beliefs, I do have an issue, or multiple, with retaining D’Antoni. The Lakers know full well that D’Antoni is not the “go-forward” guy for this team. However, they also do not want to pay the remaining $4M left on his deal to NOT coach the Lakers next season.
Nope, they would rather suffer through another season of turmoil, injuries, and a lack of defense, than pay Mike D’Antoni to simply walk away. Do they understand that they did the exact opposite with Mike Brown a few short years ago. It’s not like the Lakers can’t afford to send D’Antoni packing his bags. They simply don’t wish to do so in a season where they see no chance to compete for a ring.
But here is my question: How does Mike D’Antoni coaching a third season, as a lame duck Head Coach, benefit the Lakers in the short term or the long term?
There is no logical answer to that question. If there is one, I would love to hear it. Everyone on the roster, in the organization, and in the stands believes that D’Antoni will not be retained as Head Coach of the Lakers after the 2014-15 season. Everyone also knows that the Lakers are gearing up for the 2015 offseason, when they can go out and sign a free agent like Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge, to name a few. But keeping Mike D’Antoni in the interim does the franchise no good.
Why would you keep a lame duck coach around? He’s going to do nothing to build the franchise up, he’s not going to improve the skill set of any of the players that will be under contract next season, and the Lakers are going to toil in mediocrity, or worse, again next season.
Why not bring in a coach that can actually help build a foundation for the future? Look at what the Boston Celtics have done! They brought in a young coach who is instilling and identity as they rebuild the team around his philosophy! That is how you rebuild an organization and get them back to competing for championships. Throwing away multiple seasons in order to set yourself up for a free agent class is not how you rebuild a franchise, unless you’re one hundred percent sure you’re going to land a LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Frankly, I don’t see the Lakers landing a player of that caliber in the next couple of seasons.
What this move does do is prove how incapable Jim Buss is of running the basketball operations of the Lakers and how little Jeanie Buss has control over that side of the business. It also shows me that Mitch Kupchak, who is one of the best GM’s in the NBA, is somehow agreeing with the Buss family far more than he should be. This move shows me that the front office, as currently constructed, isn’t thinking logically and isn’t capable of building a championship quality organization once again.
The Lakers could have gone out this summer and hired any coach and it would have been a better decision than retaining Mike D’Antoni. Instead, you’ve pissed off your fan base, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol, who will now likely leave the Lakers instead of taking a hometown discount to remain with Kobe. You’ve also shown the 2014 free agent class that you’re not committed to winning next season. The Lakers could have signed a couple of nice complimentary pieces this summer like Kyle Lowry or Luol Deng. They could have paired those players with Kobe, a lottery pick, and potentially Kevin Love in 2015. However, the Lakers organization chose to piss off a diehard fan base, alienate a city, and destroy it’s chances of beginning the rebuilding process this summer.
Honestly, this is the worst move the Los Angeles Lakers could have made this offseason. The fans know it, the players know it, the league knows it. The only people who don’t seem to know it are the people running the greatest franchise in the history of the NBA. That is a very scary thought. Get ready for more mediocrity Laker fans, it’s inevitable.