I was driving south on PCH, just passing the Santa Monica pier after spending a Wednesday at the beach when I heard the news.
Metta World Peace was co-hosting a show on ESPN LA 710 with Ben Lyons when Ben let the former Los Angeles Lakers enigmatic player reveal the breaking news: Mike D’Antoni had re-signed from the team. My heart dropped, and I sat there in silence thinking about how painful this next season would be to watch.
Then, when they came back from the commercial break, it turned out that MWP just misread it and D’Antoni had RESIGNED!
Every defense for him as a head coach this season is incorrect. Yes, there were injuries to the team, but he was a terrible coach for SO many other reasons. He couldn’t communicate with the team, as evidenced by how the ever-professional Pau Gasol would mouth off in the media, followed by Kobe Bryant, Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Jordan Farmar, and basically everyone at one point or another.
Then, there’s the entire issue of Gasol. Since D’Antoni got to Los Angeles, he made it clear that the big man had no place in his offense.
Now, all of those coaches that people had been speculating about would get a chance to at least get a look from the Lakers. There was even talk that Kobe Bryant would come back as a player/coach, which is just ridiculous. Yes, Bill Russell did it, but the NBA today is a whole other animal. It’s been reported that the Lakers are going to talk to every big name out there, and they aren’t rushing into a decision. Some names seem to be getting more publicity than others though.
Byron Scott is a name that’s been floated around the news a lot lately, and seems to be one that Lakers fans like. He’s a former “Showtime” Laker, and up until his LeBron-less time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Scott has had a solid coaching run, even taking the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons.
However, Scott’s lack of championship rings is holding some back from fully embracing this choice. The bad news is that there aren’t that many active, jobless coaches out there that have conquered the Finals.
Kevin Ollie is a popular choice among the basketball fanatics. The ones who live and breathe the sport, whether it’s pro, college or high school. UConn’s championship winning coach, and former NBA player, is well respected by the players in the league, and now by the basketball faithful.
It was being reported in several places that Ollie planned to meet with the team in the upcoming days. The coach put that to rest though, tweeting:
Don’t Believe everything you hear!! Only meeting I have is with my team on Thursday at Gampel.. We are preparing everyday for Greatness!!
— Kevin Ollie (@CoachKO_UConn) May 6, 2014
Oh, and another big reason people like Ollie is that he’s close with Kevin Durant, which could persuade the league MVP to come to LA.
It seems like anytime a Lakers head coaching position is open, coach Mike Krzyzewski’s name is immediately brought up in the conversation. Not only is he 983-306 in the NCAA, but he also has a good relationship with Kobe Bryant, and other current NBA stars from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. That could be another piece to attract other big-name NBA players to the Lakers.
As of now, there’s no indication if the Lakers are actively pursuing Coach K, or how high up he’d be on their list of prospects.
For some reason, there are people out there who really think that Doc is going to leave an organization that he’s looking forward to doing big things with.
Broderick Turner of the LA Times wrote that when Doc was asked about the open position:
“Rivers rolled his eyes.
Rivers has two years left on his contract that pays him $7 million a season. He is also the senior vice president of basketball operations with the Clippers, giving Rivers the authority to make any basketball-related moves he desires.”
There’s no way Doc would give up that deal for an already-full front office with the Lakers.
Rick Fox is an interesting name that has come up in the conversation. Of course, it’s been nothing more than talk radio fodder, but why not talk about it?
Fox has won three championships with Bryant using Phil Jackson’s triangle system (which has always worked pretty well), and is known for having a very high basketball IQ. Having been a former teammate of Bryant, he knows how to handle that type of personality.
However, being such a Jackson disciple could work against Rick, since the new Lakers regime have made it clear that they are moving more toward the “Showtime” Lakers brand of basketball.
Why George Karl isn’t in the NBA right now is a bit of a mystery. He’s 2012-13’s NBA Coach of the Year, and has 1,131 career coaching wins to his name. However, the NBA championship has consistently eluded him.
Despite that, Karl was roommates with Mitch Kupchak in college and told Sirius radio recently that while he hasn’t heard from the Lakers yet, he expects to.
Since this is such a high-profile job, there are of course lots of other names out there right now like Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, and Mark Jackson, but really it’s currently up in the air.