LA Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni turns in his resignation

April 30, 2014

It may be only April, but right now it feels like Christmas in Los Angeles, as yesterday the NBA banned cancerous Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, and today, disastrous Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni resigned from the team.

At this rate, maybe Jim Buss will quit his post tomorrow to make it a perfect week for local fans.

“Given the circumstances, I don’t know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons,” said Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “On behalf of the Lakers, we thank Mike for the work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude that he brought to the team every day. We wish him the best of luck.”

Kupchak indicated that the search for a replacement will begin immediately, but that no timetable had been established yet.  D’Antoni had a 67-87 record in his two seasons with the team.

Other outlets reported that D'Antoni wanted the Lakers to exercise a team option for an additional year so that he wouldn't be a lame duck entering the season.  The Lakers refused to do so and D'Antoni resigned.

The hiring of D'Antoni was another in a series of blunders by Lakers executive Jim Buss, although Buss loves to mention -- perhaps in an effort to deflect away his own accountability -- how strongly his father, the late Jerry Buss, wanted to hire the coach.

The problems started when Jim Buss hired hardworking, but ineffective Mike Brown to be the head coach at a time when few other teams were considering him as a legitimate coaching candidate.

Brown, a glorified assistant ill-suited for the head coaching gig at the NBA's glamour franchise, quickly wore out his welcome with his unimaginative offensive sets and marathon practice sessions, causing the players to give him the unflattering nickname "All Day, Every Day."

In interviews with the media, Brown also managed to say nearly nothing original, speaking in constant dull cliches for nearly one year -- a difficult thing to do when one thinks about it.

Brown lasted a handful of games into his second year before getting canned, providing the Lakers with the opportunity to reverse their fortunes and hire a new voice to lead a team loaded with stars Kobe, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard.

Buss responded by apparently failing to include Phil Jackson on his initial list of candidates, an astonishing oversight rooted in Buss' personal bias, and a mistake that should be deemed no less than an act of pure negligence.

After fans began chanting for Jackson at games, only then did he suddenly became a coaching candidate.

Jackson was in the process of considering the job, until Buss and company infamously hired D'Antoni in the middle of the night while the coach lay in a hospital bed recovering from knee surgery.

The D'Antoni hire was a fiasco from the start, as the coach immediately claimed that low post offensive basketball was "inefficient."

Considering this team had two seven-footers in Gasol and Howard, there was an obvious ideological divide from Day One.  One would think that such differences would have been discussed during the interview process, but apparently they were not.

Although injuries certainly played a part in this season's horrific won-loss record, and although D'Antoni did help develop the games of Jodie Meeks and Ryan Kelly, he was a hindrance to the franchise overall for several reasons.

First, his stubborn refusal to adjust his system to his players cost the team, especially in his first year when he had four guys -- Kobe, Gasol, Howard, and Metta World Peace -- capable of commanding a double team in the low post, but refused to give them enough touches on the block.  This led to the alienation of Howard, Gasol, and later, Chris Kaman.

Second, his inability to use his players properly put the Lakers in an early hole in D'Antoni's first year, causing the team to make a furious rally just to limp to the eighth seed.  Kobe bore the brunt of the burden, playing massive minutes down the stretch and sustaining a torn Achilles, perhaps from the extra wear and tear.

Third, and perhaps most devastating, D'Antoni's presence primarily caused Dwight Howard to do the surprise move of leaving for less money to a smaller market.  Howard wanted Jackson to be his coach, similar to most reasonable-minded people, but Buss ignored that sentiment and hired a guy who does not believe in low post basketball.

Now with D'Antoni gone, an immediate benefit is that the Lakers' chances of signing free agent Pau Gasol increase tremendously, since Gasol likes playing for the organization.

Moreover, when the Lakers make their lottery selection in the upcoming NBA Draft, they will be choosing a player on the basis of his overall ability, rather than on his ability to "fit" in D'Antoni's flawed, no-defense system.

Unfortunately, that player will be selected by Jim Buss, and we know how sound his judgment can be.

By Mike Elliott
Editor for

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