The Lakers have lost a lot of games this season (42 to be exact), but the historic 48-point blowout loss to the Clippers Thursday night on national television hit the fan base hard. Many of these fans rooting for them to lose and get a better draft pick were embarrassed at the lack of defensive effort and the ugly loss.
They were not the only ones.
Apparently Lakers co-owner Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak were as well, and those two sat down separately with coach Mike D’Antoni after the game, reports Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
Shortly after a 48-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak met separately with embattled coach Mike D’Antoni and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss to discuss the state of the team, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
While Lakers management plans to continue to assess the situation, in the short term it is inclined to see how the team responds to the worst loss in franchise history, rather than make an in-season coaching change, sources said.
D’Antoni confirmed the meeting with Kupchak, characterizing it as “normal” before the Lakers played the Denver Nuggets on Friday.
Normal? Riiiiiight. Just another normal night when the GM and owner drop in to see how you’re doing after a franchise worst loss. Happens all the time.
Mike D’Antoni certainly deserves some blame for this Lakers season, the lack of focus on defense for one thing, but not all the blame is on him — he was never given enough talent to win much. A lot of the talent he did have — including Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash — was lost to injury.
Look at it this way: The Lakers’ starting five Friday night in Denver was Kendall Marshall, Kent Bazemore, Jodie Meeks, Wes Johnson and Pau Gasol. Off the bench there was Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Farmar and Robert Sacre. I don’t care if you had Phil Jackson coach this team, if you resurrected John Wooden to help him, that roster is not winning games. What’s more is as the names have shifted around and the Lakers have had to dig deeper into the talent pool the concept of team has gone out the window with the group, they don’t play within any system.
D’Antoni’s job appears safe for the rest of the season (what is the point of changing coaches now?). Long term, he is not the man, he is not the answer. He probably isn’t the man next season because Kobe Bryant — at his age with his post-up focused style of game now — is not going to be able to play in the D’Antoni run-and-gun system.
For the next couple years as they try to rebuild the roster the Lakers will be selling fans Kobe — that is why they paid him big bucks to stay. Look for them to get a coach this summer whose system can showcase Bryant better.
But that coach isn’t going to win much next season either if that roster looks like this one.