Mandatory Credit: USA Today

Los Angeles Lakers Ownership Fails Again, Retain Mike D'Antoni For Third Season

Are you ready for Year 3? Can you feel the excitement? Yeah, me neither.

According to a report filed by Mark Heisler of the OC Register, the Los Angeles Lakers front office has decided that they will retain Mike D’Antoni as Head Coach of the 16-time NBA Champions.

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.

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Tags: Jeanie Buss Jim Buss Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Mike D'Antoni Pau Gasol

  • Paul J. Lorona


  • Rafael Alvidrez

    Sorry gang, I cancelled my TWC subscription and follow the neighborhood high school basketball team. It costs too much watching the Lakers lose. Maybe Kobe can pull a Derrick Rose shenanigan and coast for a year until management forsees another dismal year. By the way the SUNS have the Lakers first round draft pick for the 2015-2016 season. Good luck with that.

  • Buddy guy

    As a Laker fan all I can say is, my disappointment runs deep!

  • Dino Madness

    It’s going to be very difficult for Nash if the Lakers don’t win,
    everyone will start thinking about the draft pick and will find out that
    only if the pick is 1-5 will they get it, because 6-30 belongs to the
    Suns thanks to the trade for Nash. If he comes back he needs to be
    healthy and be giving some value back to the team not like the last two
    disastrous years.

  • hookedonnews

    The Celtics? Really? I disagree with about 99% of what you said here. One reason to retain MDA? $4 million. If they keep him they will be looking to see what he can do with a healthy roster, not simply putting the team in a holding pattern. No one knows what the decision on D’Antoni is going to be. It would be natural for him to ask for them to guarantee that fourth year, but I can’t imagine he believes they will give it to him.

    If you believe he can’t improve the skill set of the players, how do you explain the improvement of Jodie Meeks, Ryan Kelly, Kendall Marshall, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Sacre, Steve Blake, Wes Johnson, etc.? Jordan Hill also had career numbers. He is also building an identity for the team. Now maybe it’s not the identity you prefer, but your assessment of his coaching ability is off the mark. He’s proven that he can develop young players and win when he has the right players. No coach was going to win with this team and the injuries.

    As far as Deng & Lowry, the team appears to want to wait for the better level of talent available after next season. No team is 100% sure of getting LeBron or Durant or any other player for that matter. I’m sure the FO believes they will be able to sign some top FA’s in 2015/2016. Mitch Kupchak wants to retain MDA if what’s being reported is true. If he’s such a great GM, maybe he knows something you don’t. And Gasol has made no categorical statements that he won’t return if D’Antoni is coaching. Why don’t you read his blog if you want to know what he’s thinking? Do you want him to return because he’s the best center out there? There are a lot of questions about his health. Sooner or later this team is going to have to go after younger players in the post. They obviously want him back, and I think that’s good in the short run. But they need a better defender at the rim, and that’s not Pau.

  • hookedonnews

    I think that is the least of the concerns of Steve Nash. In any event, the FO has made it clear that they intend to build this team with FA’s not draft picks. Look at all the top picks Cleveland has gotten, and where are they? Nash didn’t put a gun to the head of management and force them to make that deal. Draft picks can be good (Durant) or bad (Greg Oden and more players than I can remember). I’m sure Nash will do his best to be healthy and play well.