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