These Lakers Can’t Afford to Fire Mike D’Antoni & Hire Phil Jackson

These Lakers Can’t Afford to Fire Mike D’Antoni & Hire Phil Jackson


NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles LakersToday I had to look on Google to find information that I wasn’t sure of. I searched to see if any NBA team in league history had fired two coaches in the same season. That’s what it’s become in Los Angeles, folks. As fans drastically search for reasoning behind the Lakers’ struggles this season, they’ve found a new scapegoat to cast their blame upon.

Mike D’Antoni.

After running Mike Brown out of town just five games into the season, the fans have already made up their mind when it comes to D’Antoni.

He’s a bum. Ship him out. Bring in someone else.

Sorry, everybody, but it’s not going to happen. The Lakers are stuck with Mike D’Antoni (if stuck is the word you want to use) for at least the remainder of this season, and most likely next season as well. While there’s a chance the team makes another surprising mood if the team continues to struggle next season, it’s unlikely the team makes another coaching change even if things clearly aren’t happening on the court.

Why? It’s simple, really. Money. Lots and lots of money.

You see, here’s what most people fail to understand. When the team makes a coaching change the coach doesn’t simply go away. Mike Brown hasn’t faded into oblivion even though you don’t see him looking remarkably flabbergasted on the Lakers’ sideline. In fact, he’s sitting at the local Chick-Fil-A collecting $11 million from the Lakers. For not coaching. Now, even a team with a new $3.6 billion television deal, that’s a lot of money to be spending on a guy just to leave you alone.

So we’re $11 million in with just Mike Brown. Now how about the guy who still has a job.

Mike D’Antoni signed a three year, $12 million contract back on Nov. 12, 2012. So you’re looking at $4 million per season (my math is superb, I know), being wired from the Lakers to D’Antoni’s bank account. And remember, this is on top of the $11 million also being spent on Mike Brown’s spicy chicken sandwich deluxe. Now, thanks to my fantastic math skills once again, we’re looking at $23 million being spent on Brown and D’Antoni alone.

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Okay. So let’s assume the Lakers do fire D’Antoni. And, since we’re already skipping around in the hypothetical world, we’ll say they do it this season. They will still need a new head coach. While Bernie Bickerstaff may be the most successful head coach they’ve had this season, the team clearly made it known that he wasn’t a long term solution when they bypassed him for D’Antoni back in November. In fact, the only reasonable explanation for the team firing D’Antoni at this point in the season (which they did in our make-believe world), would be to bring in a big name. Maybe a guy you’ve heard of before. Maybe a guy who is engaged to the owner’s daughter and recently led the Lakers to five championships in 10 seasons.

Phil Jackson.

Take a moment to let the pretend celebration subside and you’ll begin to notice something terribly wrong with this situation. While to those not signing the paychecks this appears to be a great hire. The team finally got their man and they can see if he can be the one to douse the purple and gold dumpster fire raging through Los Angeles. Since this is indeed a fantasy situation, we don’t have real world dollars to use for his potential contract. So what we’re going to do is simply go back to his final year with the Lakers (2010-11) and assume the Lakers give him a similar deal to come back and coach again.

During his final season with Los Angeles Phil banked a modest $10.33 million. He was the highest paid coach in league history, and made more money than most of the team’s players. While most will argue that a coach with his resume deserves that type of cheddar, when you add it to what the team is currently paying their coaches you’re going to need a bigger boat. Or wallet. Or whatever.

If the Lakers brought back Jackson for approximately $10 million per season, that would increase the total amount of money being spent on coaches to $33 million. This is, of course, taking into considerationPhil Jackson D’Antoni’s entire contract, which the team will still have to cover even if they parted ways. So for the Lakers to fire D’Antoni and hire Phil Jackson, they would end up paying more this season for the head coaching position than they are for Kobe Bryant. And he’s the highest paid player in the NBA.

And remember, that’s still just a one year deal for Jackson. You would have to assume they would offer at least two or three years total in the contract, which would be upwards of $10 per season. So the total value of Jackson’s deal would likely be over $30 million, bringing the Lakers’ final cost for their head coaches to more than $50 million over the course of three seasons. To quote one of the faceless clowns during the bank heist scene at the beginning of The Dark Knight, “that’s a lot of money.”

It makes more sense now, right? Even if the team wanted to fire D’Antoni and cut their losses (which I’m fairly convinced they’re not willing to do yet, anyways), they would be spending so much money on coaches that it would have an even larger negative impact on the team in general. With the new, stricter CBA guidelines beginning to come into play next season, the math tells us the team simply can’t afford that. Even a team that is worth $1 billion, which Forbes just announced the Lakers are, understands the bad business of locking up $50 million into the head coach position.

Oh, and one more thing. Remember my little story at the beginning? About searching for a team that had ever fired two coaches in the same season? It’s never happened. Ever. So, as if the rest of the nonsense piling on top of the team isn’t enough, the team has history working against them as well.

  • TBJ

    They have to fire this guy. He has 2 skilled post players and has no clue how to use them. ARE YOU SERIOUS?????? I can’t believe the management is allowing this circus to continue. Jimmy Bust made this hire based on personal feelings over business ones. Phil Jackson or Brian Shaw should be coaching the Lakers, but b/c of Jim’s selfish ego they are not and now we can’t hire them. I can’t stand this D’Antoni experiment on a team built to win now. Get him out of here and let Bickerstaff coach the rest of this year if you’re unwilling to be a man and give Phil the job since Shaw is having success in Indiana. Hopefully D’Antoni quits so the management realizes how much they messed up. They are wasting a very talented team.

    Ps- mitch’s lame excuse that it’s not the coach, its that the players aren’t trying is bs. Pau Gasol is not a perimeter shooter, he’s one of the best in the world down low, but D’Antoni won’t let him play his game. Lakers have so much talent, but can’t show it.

    • JohnC

      Checking Pau’s numbers this season full of health problems, the lack of all rhythm, minutes and touches, season of adjusting to these science-fictional new roles, and with all psychological issues if your coach would sell you and you’re the scapegoat for those noisy fans of dunking and coke – Pau’s numbers are almost identical to some top players very well considered in their teams, with no health issues and playing in their natural position: Marc Gasol, Garnett, Ibaka, Chandler. How better would Pau perform in the right context (a system which grows from the players)?

      • Jody

        exactly, during the Olympics when he played his game with a team built around him he was phenomenal. They need a coach with more interest in posting up down low… With Bryant at 6″6, Metta at 260lbs, Pau & Dwight, you probably have the best team in the post in the league and you want to push the tempo lol it’s ridiculous! Bernie on an interim basis until the end of the season, then Brian Shaw with D Fish as an assistant or whoever Brian wants to bring in. Lose some of the other assistants who have no active input now and work to what they are good at! A hard-nosed, rim protecting, posterized dunking machine

  • We Want Phil

    Go read Woj’s article from today on Yahoo. They have to fire D’Antoni. They could suck it up and eat his and Brown’s salaries, but the marketing consequences from losing Dwight, and possibly Pau, would be enormous. Stevie Wonder could see that Mike D’Antoni is the wrong coach for this team, and just not a very good coach in general.

  • gonzalo

    Men fire MIKE D´ANTONI, AS LONG AS HE IS THE COACH THERE IS NO WAY THESE TEAM MAKES THE PLAYOFFS, NOBODY BELIEVES IN HIM IN THAT LOCKER ROOM WITH THE EXCEPTION OF NASH, he is the worst defensive coach in history, and we are also struglling with the offense, Dwight as good as he´s been i believe is way overrated as an offensive player. Steps to make de the playoffs:

    3)Trade Dwight Howard (he doesn´t fit and he is not going to resign the ways things are going). 2 team trade with brooklyn and portland, we get lamarcus aldrige batum and hickson, and between marson brooks or wehley matthews we let portland decide how they want.Brooklyn:MWP,DWIGHT HOWARD,ANTAWN JAMISON,JODIE MEEKS, they accept they get Dwight and still have two good bench players that fit with the system, and also have andrey blatche to play tons of minutes at the 4 or 5, he is a good player. Dwight will do good over there, hell be the main option on offense and succeed with good shooters around him(despite deron williams latest struggles), that team will be terrorific defensively and have a chance to be special///// PORTLAND:BROOK LOPEZ/KRIS HUMPHRIES/GERALD WALLACE AND DECIDE BETWEEN MARSHON BROOKS OR IF NOT THE STAY WITH WESHLEY MATTHEWS.

    Steve Nash/Steve Blake/ Darius Morris
    Kobe Bryant/( Weshley Matthews/Marson Brooks)
    Eark Clark/Nicolas Batum(playing 30+ minutes, but we need a 6 man like Okc and the Clippers)
    Lamarcus Aldrige/Kenyon Martin(veteran minimun) /Jordan hill(injuried)
    Pau Gasol/JJ Hickson/Robert Sacre


    • Jody

      Portland would not deal Batum & Aldridge… that is the core of their franchise along with Lillard. And why would they reacquire Gerald Wallace who they traded away last season? Along with Kris Humphries bloated deal and Brook Lopez’ injury problems. Kenyon Martin isn’t playing for a team either at present because he didn’t want a veterans minimum deal. If you replace the coach for one who will incorporate Dwight more then he will re-sign. Brian Shaw is a better candidate, but I like Jerry Sloan too. We should see about trading Nash to Toronto for Calderon, they wanted him in the summer, and Calderon is an expiring deal that it seems like they have been willing to offload for a long time. A big 4 has never worked before, and the West has so many athletic offensive point guards that keeping Nash is a recipe for disaster

      • gonzalo

        I don´t know that was just an option, trading dwight you can get a hell of a TEAM, i would trade him directly to portland but only if he agrees to resing long term which i doubt, but he still has lillard and 2014 free agency to convince players to come play with him, the lakers need to fire mike d´antoni first, then think about how to have a complete roster with 8-9 pretty good guys and a team that CAN PLAY DEFENSE, there is no way to are competing against okc and those type of teams.Defense is made good or bad in a huge percentage by the coach, this roster is not that bad defensively with the exception of nash and jamison, with the right coach they would be good. But that trade will make the lakers extremely good, i really liked what you said about calderon,that is a good idea because calderon can defend and is also extremely good, and will have great chemistry with Pau, pau will really welcome him, they are great friends. A team with aldrige and batum would be enough, maybe we can just sign Greg Oden for the minimun to play 15 minutes and defend and rebound, and give them also mwp and jamison.

    • Grome002

      Some people have no sense of realistic trades

  • gian

    it’s a lot of money, for sure. but you don’t need to hire phil jackson, that would make things even worst right now (should have been hired back in november) Let bernie bickerstaff coach… at least for the remainder of this season, and you’ll see how good this team is just playing.

  • Sti1lmatic

    The Lakers organization has no room for “ands, ifs or buts”. They must keep the team in or on top of the list of dominant teams. Like they say, the Lakers must be the prettiest girl in class or it’s a bust. Don’t think the Buss family will let this ride any longer.

  • Killer65

    Okay – first of all, you’re not getting Phil. Phil will not come back to this team – would you after they kicked him in the groin after all he did for them? He’s now probably going to Seattle. Good for him. At a recent chalk talk at Staples, Mitch gave some cock-n-bull story about how Phil couldn’t make up his mind and they needed a coach by midnight on a certain date, so they hired D’Antoni. Really? Why? Even if that’s true, that’s a poor way to hire a coach. So what if they have to pay two non-working coaches? Isn’t that worth the price of the franchise? Can you imagine how the League, let alone other fans, are laughing at the Lakers now? Can you imagine how people like Kobe and Stu really feel like? Can you imagine what Chick would be saying? We know what Magic has said – and he’s right. The only solution – and yes, the only solution (at least right now) is to say good-bye to yet another experiment and to give the job to Bickerstaff. He’s already on the staff, you’re already paying him. True, he said he doesn’t want the position, but management needs to encourage him to take it – at least for the remainder of the season. He’s a veteran coach who knows how to play on both sides of the court. Then you get on your hands and knees and beg Brian Shaw to come to coach; and bring Derrick Fisher and Kurt as assistants. Or, how long does Byron Scott have left in Cleveland? The three in the first team and Byron all know how to motivate, they all know how to play the game, they all garner respect. At least salvage something out of Kobe’s last, or maybe last two, years. At least preserve this storied franchise instead of letting it go down the toilet like it is. Swallow your pride, admit you made a mistake, and get on with it. I’ve been a fan of the Lakers since the 70s – and of pro basketball since the 60s when Bob Petit played for the St. Louis Hawks where I originally came from. Don’t let this franchise fall into oblivion. D’Antoni’s system (if, in fact, there even is a system) does not work with this team – as a matter of fact it hasn’t worked with the other teams he’s had either, as they also let him go. He’s incapable at this level. The time to rectify the situation is now – not after the end of the season.

    • Jody

      I would love for D Fish to come back as an assistant to Brian Shaw. Bernie is already on the staff so giving him the interim title until the end of the season isnt going to hurt anybody. By then the Lakers will have lost about $8M from D’Antoni’s & Browns $4M per year deals so it’s not as much of a loss financially. Seems a bit silly to say that $10M a year is too much for a good coach, but they are paying over $100M on salary and a ridiculous amount on luxury tax for nothing. No title. No playoffs. Hell even no lottery! D’Antoni out!!!

  • Good Guy Greg

    Chill guys. It’s okay, relax. It’s only pre-season. None of these games even matter. They’ll get it together when the season starts for them a 3rd time around, sometime this year. Steve Blake can save us when he gets back. Trust.

    • Nick Skim

      It’s almost playoff time and the Lakers are a mess! Where is Steve Blake?!?!?!

  • Benjie Estuche, OKC

    Declare bankruptcy, declare the season lost…and start all over again next year, so that Kobe wouldn’t be able to get his 6th ring – that is what Lakers management done anyway by their bum moves.

    • Benjie Estuche, OKC

      Derek Fisher as coach would have had won more for the Lakers.With 5 rings, that would make him better that two coaches with none to show. And there would have been continuity of the triangle offense.

  • Guest

    hire Brian Shaw then, i don’t think he cost 10 million dollar a year.

    • Jody

      Exactly my thinking too! He is younger, working with the Pacers at present as an assistant who have best defense in the league and he knows the triangle. Perfect candidate

  • JS

    Kupchak needs to have a meeting with D’Antoni and force him to change the offensive and defensive scheme of the Lakers D’Antoni refuses….fire him for INSUBORDINATION. Al Davis fired Lane Kiffin from the Raiders for the same thing. Let D’Antoni take you to court.

    The fans at the game can help too. Boo the living sh*t out of D’Antoni everytime he is announced or shown on the big screen. Make him feel unwelcomed in Los Angeles…

    • Chrmngblly

      There is one solution we have not tried. We could develop our own coach instead of hiring one from outside. JS, I hope it doesn’t come down to trying to “Boo” D’Antoni out of town.
      You are right though, ownership can tell him what to do. They should start by bringing Mike Brown back as Defensive Coordinator and make D’Antoni like it, since Brown is still under contract, too. Brown’s claim to fame is as a defensive guru–well, let’s see.
      Several things could happen: (1) One of them could leave. Oh darn. Then you could fire the other one and bring in someone like Jerry Sloan. Problem solved. No extra money spent. Or (2) they could both reach an accomodation and decide to work together—in which case you get a defense and an offense and maybe this season won’t be lost entirely.
      Is there a precedent? Maybe. How close would anyone say the George Steinbrenner-Billy Martin debacle of firing and re-hiring was?

  • gustavo valladares

    mike d’antoni is not the right coach for the roster we have, his an up tempo offensive coach you need young small fast players to execute his plays.

  • Blake Hastings

    make D’Antoni sit the bench and take lessons from Phil Jackson for a year

  • Leo

    You want D12 to resign? Then simple fire D’Antoni and hire Phil. If Phil was here, D12 would resign. Guaranteed. Plus we get the best coach ever who everybody respects and want to play for in this roster (especially the core: Kobe, Pau and I believe also Nash) Money should be no issue for the lakers.. come on… they lose much more if D’Antoni makes the worst record with most expensive roster ever…

  • h0cus_P0cus

    No way Jim Buss hires Phil. Phil wants an ownership stake, which would make him + Jeanie Buss have greater ownership in the team than Jim Buss when Jerry buss passes. Phil will effectively “own” the lakers.

  • EdR

    Future decisions should never be made on past financial decisions.. You can’t change the past but you can decide what kind of future you are going to have. The Lakers can keep a .500 coach who has shown he can’t adjust HIS style to his players.
    As far as the money.. The Lakers can recover the losses in one good playoff run.. which they are unlikely to see with the present team with the present coach. They have already decided not to change the make up the team and probably will sacrifice this season in hopes that D’Antonio can get them pass the first round. IMiracles do happen!

  • Guest

    phil your banging jeanie already. just accept 1 mil per year.

  • roseducanna

    You buy it you pay it.LAKERS have contract with Time Warner.You can use that money to treat a wrong chose.

  • Dennis Mitchell

    Well the Lakers need to pay stupid tax for not hiring Phil Jackson
    instead of Mike D’Antoni. Take the stupid tax out of Jim Buss’ money.
    He’s the one who is failing the Lakers. He should be the one who pays
    for it.