D’Antoni, Lakers Should Consider Nate McMillan As Defensive Coordinator

D’Antoni, Lakers Should Consider Nate McMillan As Defensive Coordinator


McMillanOnce news broke of the Lakers firing Mike Brown back in November, I wrote an article on the Lakers’ best choices to replace him. Obviously, the no-brainer was Phil Jackson, but Lakers’ management didn’t see eye-to-eye with me on that one, apparently.

Among the candidates, I had mentioned that if Phil wasn’t interested for whatever reason, hiring Mike D’Antoni could be intriguing if he decided to bring along former Seattle SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.

I noted how both coach’s respect for each other–having co-assisted Mike Krzyzewski during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics–and respective specialties (D’Antoni’s offense and McMillan’s defense) could work harmoniously together.

I was initially disappointed when the Lakers chose D’Antoni over Phil, but then news broke out that D’Antoni was looking to add McMillan to his coaching staff, and I was intrigued once again.

However, that never happened, as D’Antoni opted to simply add his brother–Dan D’Antoni–to the staff but let the rest of the staff remain intact. He stated that he would contact McMillan over the summer, but that he (McMillan) would likely already have a head coaching position by then.

That, to me, was a huge mistake. It seemed like the reasonable and logical thing to do; D’Antoni was faced with arguably the biggest challenge in his coaching career, so why not lean on another coach who has experience in the league, who was generally revered by his former teammates, and who also had experience with superstars during the Olympics?

Additionally, with the Lakers basically spending what they spent on Mike D’Antoni for a whole contract what they would have spent for one year with Phil Jackson as head coach, management would have happily accepted any assistant coaching request and salary D’Antoni had. Essentially, D’Antoni had the means to put together any staff of his choosing, but didn’t probably because of his respect for the other coaches and a desire to not put them out of a job.

Well, the past is the past, but with the Lakers’ current record of 15-19 and the defensive end of the floor being the main culprit for that, I see no reason why Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers shouldn’t seek some help in that particular area.

Many fans may want the Lakers to fire Mike D’Antoni entirely, but it’s too late for that. So, why not just hire a little help? It would have to be at D’Antoni’s request, of course, but it could help salvage this Lakers’ team.

Known for being a defensive player and subsequent coach, McMillan wouldn’t disrupt the Lakers’ offense unless asked to, and the current defensive system (if any) is suspect to management, fans, and probably even the players (at least it looks that way). Perhaps a new system or philosophy would be welcomed and accepted by the players.

I’m not saying that McMillan is the best defensive coach out there, but the fact that D’Antoni has worked with him in the past and intends to contact him over the summer makes the case for him to bypass waiting and simply make the call now. Basically, if D’Antoni is going to still be the Lakers’ coach after this season, the guy he’ll be calling to come help him out will be McMillan, so why not just do it now?

Just for fun, let’s compare each coach’s record as head coach:

Mike D’Antoni

  • Win-Loss Totals: 397-348
  • Win-Loss Percentage: .533
  • Playoff Wins-Losses: 26-29 (.473)

Nate McMillan

  • Win-Loss Totals: 478-452
  • Win-Loss Percentage: .514
  • Playoff Wins-Losses: 14-20 (.412)

Obviously, those numbers don’t exactly stand out to anyone and may actually look bad to many, but the situation is what it is. I personally would’ve rather seen Phil Jackson and Kurt Rambis at the helm of the Lakers, but that didn’t happen and it’s not going to happen, people, so we’ve all got to move on and try to figure out what can help right now–which could be Nate McMillan.

So, let’s break down the impact McMillan could have on these struggling Lakers.

Next Page: Breaking Down McMillan’s Defensive Influence

  • Lyle

    Jerry Sloan as head coach and Nate McMillan and D’Antoni as assistant coaches!

    • mthashp

      What exactly does D’Antoni bring to the table? He’s clearly not an effective basketball coach. He’s not even funny or good looking. I don’t get it.

  • mthashp

    If D’Antoni is still the coach next season, count me out. Matter of fact, if he’s still the coach next week, count me out. This close to throwing in the towel to focus on happier things in life.

  • Peter Maguire

    sounds like a pro-active way to get the next head coach in the locker room and acclimated to the situation. Great Defensive coach and player, Don Nelson would be great as well as a consultant – this guy did more with less than any coach I can recall.

  • honestly

    am i just blind of this author really is a fool?? d’antoni has the record of 397-398 but has a winning percentage of .533

    fire this idiot plz -.-

    • Suki Thind

      Sorry, this idiot typed a “9” instead of a “4”…guess that’s what happens when you write at 4AM.

  • nikyfreshhhh

    i don’t understand what the lakers are waiting for. the good teams are winning and moving up while they keep losing and falling deeper and deeper in the standings. get nate and make a trade for youth. its that simple.

  • FIC24


  • Preston

    The obvious choice would be to fire D’Antoni… At this point it might be easier said than done. As of right now the Lakers are currently paying two coaches a total of $15 Million as a result of several failed attempts in finding the best man for the job. Firing Mike D’Antoni could prove to be too expensive to consider for a team that has the highest payroll in the league. With the Lakers paying over $80 Million in luxury tax last season and toting the biggest player contract in the NBA (Kobe Bryant) not to mention the burdensome $19 Million that’s still owed to Gasol this much of a load creates a much bigger challenge. Lakers still hope to sign Dwight Howard next season and as a superstar he will be expecting a hefty payout. With several bad decisions, regretful deals, luxury tax and bloated contracts, firing Mike D’Antoni would simply prove to be too expensive. That would leave the Lakers paying three coaches instead of two, but in an ironic twist of fate, either way the chips fall, the Lakers will have to pay in the end no matter what. Whether it costs them they’re season, or more money, in any decision the Lakers will have to pay.