Tag Archives: Mike D’Antoni

Who Will Coach The Lakers?

LA Lakers New Coach

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Mike D’Antoni confirmed the inevitable on Thursday by resigning as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. In a national NBA news cycle that’s been dominated by the Donald Sterling controversy the Lakers were once again, briefly, the story nationally. Finishing out of the playoffs with another potential season of rebuilding upcoming, the Lakers now have to find a head coach to replace D’Antoni that can restore success in Lakerland while ushering the team into a new era. Several names have been bandied about already, with the two coaches who faced off against each other in the recent NCAA title game at the top of the list. Kevin Ollie and John Calipari seem to be the two most talked about candidates, but there will be others. The next Lakers coach will be a big decision and the franchise needs to correct the mistakes they made during the previous two hires of Mike Brown and D’Antoni. Now more than ever, it’s essential that the Lakers reclaim their place among Southern California NBA fans.

LA Clippers Vs Spurs

DOC

One big reason the next hire is important is the direct result of the Donald Sterling controversy. When NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the decision to fine Sterling $2.5 million and push to force him to sell the team he not only created a big sigh of relief among Clippers fans, he also created a scenario where the Clippers popularity could potentially explode. For the last thirty seasons under Sterling’s ownership the Clippers had been a disaster of a franchise. Poor decisions, poor luck and a bad owner created a franchise with little success, a punching bag for many nationally and an easy win for the cross-town Lakers. Prior to coming to the STAPLES Center the Clippers played in front of sparse crowds at the Los Angeles Sports Arena as they typically finished at the bottom of the division. In the last few years, despite Sterling, the Clippers have become a Western Conference power behind the play of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and, this season, the tutelage of Doc Rivers. This recent success has always been despite Sterling, not because of Sterling.

Now with Sterling potentially out of the picture the Clippers suddenly have reached a higher level of awareness nationally. They’ve become a feel-good story with several high profile figures being discussed as potential bidders for the franchise. These names include Magic Johnson and Oprah Winfrey, as well as Oracle Corporation founder Larry Ellison. Ellison, worth $50 billion, put in a losing bid to buy the Golden State Warriors five-years ago. Ellison has the money and some potential high-profile partners in Winfrey and David Geffen. Suddenly, should someone like Ellison buy the team, the Clippers have the potential to emerge as a much more popular franchise both in Southern California and nationally.

Los Angeles Lakers Tickets

COACH WANTED

This brings us back to the Lakers. Due to their incredible history the Lakers will never become Los Angeles’s “other” team, but they do risk losing part of the casual fan base or emerging fans to the STAPLES Center rivals. The Clippers are a talented bunch who should contend for the foreseeable future, while the Lakers are likely to struggle again next season. For these reasons it’s essential the Lakers make the right choice in who they hire as their next head coach. Both Ollie and Calipari, if they are the top choices, are interesting options. The big question is whether or not Ollie and Calipari are the right choices to help attract potential free agents and maximize success out of the roster.
Whoever the next head coach of the Lakers is, he’ll have a big job on his hands.Chris M

Dont Fire D’Antoni … Yet

D’Antoni

D’Antoni

After the worst loss in franchise history, a 48 point drubbing at the hands of the Clippers, one of the worst regular seasons in Los Angeles Lakers history got even worse, leaving many Lakers fans calling for the firing of embattled Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. The Clippers, firmly established as the best team in LA, have now beaten the Lakers by a combined 84 points over the past two meetings. Times are tough for the Lakers fan base and based on the upcoming free agent class assistance won’t be coming until after the next offseason. A high draft choice in a deep draft may provide some excitement, but an immediate re-build like in the past likely isn’t in the cards.

D’Antoni

Wish It Was 1987

With the Lakers at 21-42 the pressure is firmly on Mike D’Antoni. The former Suns and Knicks coach clearly hasn’t worked out in Los Angeles and is not the long-term answer. The amazing amount of injuries, especially in the backcourt, hasn’t helped the situation but the problems that have plagued D’Antoni in Phoenix and New York are present once again in Los Angeles. Successful NBA teams play effective defense and D’Antoni has never shown the ability to lead an effective defensive team during his time in the NBA. In the past three games, which included the drubbing at the hands of the Clippers, the Lakers gave up 132, 144, and 134 points, totals that the NBA hasn’t seen since the days of Paul Westhead using his Loyola Marymount system in Denver. High scoring games can be exciting for those watching, provided you’re not on the losing end, and the Lakers have been on the losing end in all three games.

D'antoni

Lame Duck?

So with D’Antoni a lame duck should the Lakers let him go? The simple answer is no. The upcoming draft is a big one and a high draft position can give the Lakers a building block for the future. Firing D’Antoni and bringing in a replacement, in the hopes that the Lakers win a handful more games, will only lessen their chance to finish high in the lottery. With the Philadelphia 76ers completely tanking, along with the Milwaukee Bucks, it benefits the Lakers to continue their slide. For a proud franchise that fact is hard to accept, but the Lakers need to maximize their ping pong balls to finish high in the draft. A top three pick may yield potential elite talents like Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas and Jabari Parker of Duke. Combine an elite lottery talent with the potential to attract a talent like Kevin Love after the next offseason and the Lakers could potentially rebuild in a hurry.

Mike D’Antoni Lame Duck?

I’ll Be Back

D’Antoni is clearly a lame duck who won’t be back next season, and shouldn’t be back. His time as an NBA coach is likely over. With D’Antoni on his way out the Lakers will have an interesting decision on their hands in selecting the next head coach of the franchise. The name that popped up this past week, inevitably, was Phil Jackson who stated that he’s ready to get back into leading an organization. Jackson’s comments indicated that he’s interested in coaching again, but also the ability to build an organization ala Pat Riley in Miami. Rumors currently circulating indicate that Jackson is mulling a front office position in New York, which may make speculation moot of a potential return to LA. At 68 it’s hard to imagine Jackson wanting to take over the reins of the Lakers with another tough season potentially on the way. Other veteran names include George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, and Stan Van Gundy. All three are proven commodities, but also at a stage in their careers that they may not want to entertain a rebuild. Perhaps the proper route for the Lakers would be hiring a young college coach, like the Celtics did with Brad Stevens, or a low profile but capable NBA assistant like Charlotte did with Steve Clifford, who happened to be a Lakers assistant last season.

D’Antoni

D’Antoni & Kobe

The Lakers franchise has decades of goodwill in Los Angeles but another tough season is in the offing, never good for any franchise. A decent draft pick combined with a healthy Kobe Bryant and a head coach that puts a team on the floor that can compete at both ends could give the Lakers some momentum into the next off season. Even with a potential tough season coming up next year a good transition hire can go a long way toward building momentum into the 2015-2016 season. Chris Michaels

Should the Lakers Trade Pau Gasol?

Pau Gasol Trade

Pau Gasol

Amidst the excitement around the return of Kobe Bryant, recent comments by Pau Gasol have reminded the Lakers organization that the veteran big man is still not 100% comfortable in the Mike D’Antoni offensive system. Thursday Gasol vented to the press his frustration about not getting the ball in the post and how that directly affects his aggressiveness. Even with Dwight Howard in Houston and not taking up space in the post it’s clear that Gasol still isn’t completely happy with his role in the current incarnation of the Lakers offense.

With one-year left on his contract and an option for next season the Lakers have a decision to make that could directly impact the remainder of this season and have big implications on the club’s immediate future. On one hand the Lakers have a proven commodity in Gasol, a veteran big man who’s still among the top 10 centers in the National Basketball Association. The Lakers are still in contention, albeit battling a large group of teams for the final couple of playoff positions in the ultra competitive Western Conference. Due to his expiring contract Gasol is a prime trade target. He can help a contending team immediately and the fact his contract can be off the books after this season makes him an interesting commodity. In re-signing Kobe Bryant for two more seasons at a dollar amount that many nationally thought was a bit steep the Lakers have reduced their flexibility to attract immediate offseason help. The decision on whether or not to keep

Gasol will likely rest on how he plays out the season and whether or not he finds a comfortable place in the D’Antoni system.

According to published reports the Lakers haven’t had any trade discussions with other teams, but there are a few compelling options out there. The Lakers will have to balance the need to get production from Gasol but also weigh any interest to move him for future flexibility, or immediate talent. All indications are the club has interest in Gasol beyond this season, but they also want to maintain their ability to attract a top free agent over the next handful of off-seasons when several such players may become available, including Lebron James and former UCLA star Kevin Love. The issue with trading Gasol immediately is the reality that the Lakers may not get a solid return. One compelling potential option is Los Angeles native Tyson Chandler. The Knick big man has two years and just over $28 million left on his contract. The perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate provides energy and shot blocking and doesn’t require the club to run plays for him.

According to ESPN Carlos Boozer is also available and has a similar contract as Chandler, but the value of Boozer at this point is questionable. Any other trade speculation is nothing but rumor at this point since there are no indications the Lakers have had discussions with anyone.

Pau Gasol

Gasol

Gasol’s own comments on Friday indicated that his venting may have been more frustration and not an outright plea to be traded. During Friday’s shoot-around prior to the Oklahoma City game Gasol indicated that each individual player has to make themselves responsible for their energy and play on the court, a shift in tone from the day before. Any decision to look to move Gasol in the near term would be a foolish decision by the Lakers. With Kobe Bryant back in the lineup the club will need a solid month to integrate their superstar back into the rotation. Bryant’s style of play since his return, with a much greater emphasis on getting his teammates involved, could bode well for Gasol. The eventual return of Steve Nash can also be a big factor in the Lakers realizing the lineup they envisioned when they went out and signed Steve Nash before last offseason.

The onus is also on Gasol to up his game. Until he proves that he’s the player he’s been in the past his trade value may suffer. The career 51% shooter is making shots at just over a 40% clip, an extremely poor conversion percentage for a big man. The 33-year-old Gasol has played a lot of basketball over the last decade, between deep Lakers playoff runs and a number of international basketball tournaments with Spain. With Kobe Bryant back the pressure is now on Gasol to step up and help the Lakers superstar put together a winning streak that can give them some breathing room in the playoff race. If Gasol can prove he’s still the player he was three years ago the Lakers will have a valuable asset to sign to an extension or convert into assets to build for the future. By:Chris Michaels

Breaking down Kobe’s defense

Kobe Bryant Defense

Kobe Bryant Defense

Much criticism has fallen on the shoulders of Kobe Bryant lately regarding his individual defensive performance. Of course, the whole Lakers team is circled by clouds regarding the general team picture and this season’s record. After lots of statements from other players, coaches and journalists, Kobe may have proven the best way that he is still capable of playing NBA All-Defensive Team-like defense.

You can question many things about Lakers’ defensive system. You can easily say that Howard is not the inside presence the team needs or that Mike D’Antoni is not utilizing the whole roster the best way possible. But to say that Kobe is not playing good D? Well, ask Brandon Jennings or Kyrie Irving about that. During the last games of the Lakers, Kobe was assigned to guard two of the most lethal point guards in the league and of course the best players of each team. How did he do? He held Irving to just 15 points on 7-15 shooting from the field. He is averaging 23.6 points per game on almost 46% shooting. Two days later, Jennings finished with just 12 points on 4-14 shooting while being guarded by Kobe. His numbers this season are 18.3 Points per game and 40% from the field. But it’s not just that.

Defense is way more than individual effort in basketball. Every team needs a good defensive tactics and a well understanding of how the system works in order to play effectively. This requires a firm setup from the coaching staff and a good execution from the players. Of course Coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t known for his superior defensive systems. But you can’t either blame Kobe for the team’s run this season. In fact, Kobe might be the only player who is playing like a true superstar and leader, as he is supposed to do, on both ends of the court. Yes he might have started to age and yes NBA requires all good players to be good athletes in order to compete. However Kobe has certainly not entered the stage of his career when he can’t compete any more at the highest level. This was made clear especially after the statements of both Irving and Jennings, who had the chance to taste a bit of Kobe’s defense the last two games. Both of them pointed out the great defense they faced and also stated that it was a huge factor for the outcome of the game. The Lakers came up winning both of these games.

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