Although Mike D’Antoni has been through a tumultuous two years as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, highlighted by the departure of Dwight Howard and going through the worst season in Los Angeles franchise history, he seemingly still has the support of the front office.
No decision has been made on D’Antoni’s future as GM Mitch Kupchak said the team will take some time before evaluating the season. However, now there is speculation that the Lakers are leaning toward keeping the former coach of the year.
One former Laker also believes that the Lakers will retain D’Antoni this off-season. According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, Rick Fox believes that the Lakers would have fired D’Antoni already if they were going in that direction:
Do you think Mike D’Antoni will be the Lakers’ head coach next season?
Fox: (laughs). If they were to do something, they would have done it already. He has the confidence of the owners and Mitch Kupchak.
Fox, much like Kupchak, points out that D’Antoni did an admirable job considering all the injuries and believes that another coach wouldn’t have done better:
Some would say he did an admirable job amid the chaos.
But at the end of the day, I don’t know if any coach put in the same position would have been able to do better. They likely would have done the same thing, if not worse.
Under D’Antoni’s direction, the Lakers started the season off strong but as the injuries took their toll, the losses started to pile up. D’Antoni wasn’t given a fair shot considering the injury situation, but posting one of the worst seasons in franchise history is not acceptable.
The decision to retain D’Antoni will play a key role in this upcoming off-season as the team looks to rebuild, and build a squad around the coach’s game plan. Free agents will definitely take into account the Lakers coach, and if D’Antoni returns, the Lakers may say goodbye to long time center Pau Gasol.
D’Antoni still has two years on his contract, the latter being a team option, and only time will tell if he will return. Should the Lakers fire D’Antoni, they will be searching for their fourth head coach in three years after the departure of Phil Jackson.
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