Mike D’Antoni became the scapegoat for the decisions of Lakers management in the minds of a lot of Lakers fans last season. And maybe Dwight Howard’s mind (which is more of an issue).
Five games into last season the Lakers fired Mike Brown and brought in a system coach in Mike D’Antoni to a roster that was a complete mismatch for his style of play. It took a while but he did stop trying to shove square pegs in round holes, he did adapt (he moved away from many of his preferred options and ran “horns” and other basic NBA sets), yet through it all he was just himself. The issues really stemmed from the odd choice of hiring him for this roster in the first place, and that’s on Lakers management.
D’Antoni is going to get another year at the Lakers helm. Sorry Lakers fans, but it’s true. Multiple reports point that way (although this is the team that fired their coach five games into last season after praising him all off-season, so grab some salt).
Although Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has recently told D’Antoni that his job is secure, sources said, the fact that management hasn’t allowed him to start hiring assistant coaches for a depleted staff has left many suspicious the Lakers are keeping the option of cutting ties with D’Antoni should it allow them to re-sign Howard.
When Kupchak says something he isn’t the kind of GM likely to go back on his word, he’s a straight shooter.
But Woj suggests if Howard says D’Antoni has to go, the Lakers would let him go. Except Howard is not going to do that, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.
Another thing to remember: Kobe Bryant likes D’Antoni and has a relationship with him that dates back to Kobe’s youth growing up in Italy (where D’Antoni was a star player).
Nothing is set in stone — again, the Lakers fired Brown five games into last season and the franchise seems far more prone to rash moves under Jim Buss than his father. But Buss and Kupchak made a big statement with what kind of team they wanted when they brought in D’Antoni and they are not going to change that plan easily.
With or without Howard.