Late Wednesday Night, during the NBA playoff games, it was announced that Mike D’Antoni stepped down as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, which really tells me that the team was not going to give him the year extension that he requested from the organization. Why he thought he was worth that extra extension is beyond me, but that’s neither here nor there.
D’Antoni was in a rough situation from the start. He thought he would be coaching a healthy Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol all the way to the NBA Championship. What he got was a Dwight Howard who was injured & probably was tired of Los Angeles very quickly, Kobe Bryant who messed up his ACL, & Steve Nash who was a point guard who was injured but was still strong offensively, but the problem was that he couldn’t play much defense.
By the end of the first season & into this season, he was coaching guys who were barely able to be on an NBA Development League team. But what can you expect for a guy who took over as coach from Mike Brown, a guy who was only given 6 games that particular season & everything was just out of control for the guy.
Not trying to fully defend D’Antoni, but the main point is that we had no idea of the coaching failures of D’Antoni with the Los Angeles Lakers because he never had the full complement of weapons around him to make him successful.
But, now that the deal is done, the question is who will be the next person to be the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers? With all of the news with the Los Angeles Clippers this week & this season with them being in the NBA Playoffs & the bad news between the Clippers & Donald Sterling, the Lakers are not making the front page headlines in the Los Angeles sports sections the way they have for many years. If the team is going to come back anytime soon, there are a few things that will have to happen for them to be remotely successful.
Get Into The LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes.
As I mentioned earlier in the NBA season, I had a strong feeling that the Los Angeles Lakers could truly make a play for LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony & putting them along with a somewhat healthy Kobe Bryant would be dangerous for the rest of the league & will make the Lakers a credible threat instantly to the NBA Championship next season, building their team similar to the Miami Heat “Big 3” of James, Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh.
Even with the bad situation that has happened with the Lakers this season, the city of Los Angeles is always interesting for players because of instant marketability & the opportunity to get into the entertainment side of things, thus building their brand. If the Miami Heat win the NBA Championship this playoff run, no real guarantee that LeBron will be back in Miami after wards & Carmelo Anthony has been 50/50 about going back to the New York Knicks, but now that Phil Jackson is with the New York Knicks organization, that may be enough to convince Carmelo to stay around, but its worth a chance to investigate.
The next coach has to be a proven winner & a big name.
This is going to be very tricky because of the issue of so many NBA coaches are basically recycled again & again throughout the league & many of them don’t get the job done. For the Los Angeles Lakers to get someone that will be respected in the locker room & who will be respected by Kobe Bryant, the new coach has to be a name & has to draw some sizzle. Right now, the NBA doesn’t have coaches of that nature. Those type of coaches are in the college game.
During the NCAA Tournament, the DraftKingsMaster mentioned that possibly University of Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari would be a good fit for the Lakers organization. Calipari has the attitude & the style, similar to a Pat Riley type of coach.
Calipari is a guy who has been incredibly successful at the NCAA coaching level, especially after this season, taking a group of young freshmen who fell off the radar earlier in the season after being considered one of the top teams in NCAA basketball during the early part of the season, then coming into the tournament as an 8-seed & came within 20 minutes of winning the NCAA Championship.
He would be coaching basically all young guys plus Kobe, however, if the Lakers can use their attraction of being in Hollywood, Calipari could be the guy who could turn the Lakers around quickly & no one would blink or be that surprised.
Where I do see where Calipari could turn down the position would be in the situation that has currently presented itself – many of the players from last year’s team are coming back to Kentucky & with another strong recruiting class, the Kentucky Wildcats will most likely be in contention to win another NCAA Championship in 2015.
Another name that could come into the forefront could be Tom Izzo from Michigan State. Izzo is already a hall-of-fame coach for what he has done in his years with the Spartans since 1998, but where the Los Angeles Lakers can use him is that he is a true teacher & motivator of people.
Izzo is a guy who genuinely cares about his players & cares about them even after their time is complete at Michigan State. He will demand discipline from the players & would be able to have the instant respect from Kobe Bryant because at the end of the day, all Kobe cares about his winning & being able to win soon because his career is at the end & it can be debated that Bryant may very well be hanging around a bit too long.
Izzo has said many times that he will stay at Michigan State, but sometimes when opportunity calls, you have to take it. That might be a situation that Izzo faces soon.
No matter what happens, the Los Angeles Lakers will have a strong head coach this upcoming season, if for no other reason, the organization will need to understand that its time to take back the front page of the sports section & be back at the forefront of Los Angeles basketball fans.