Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak recently confirmed head coach Mike D'Antoni would return to the sidelines for the Lakers next season (via ESPN), which all but guarantees that regardless of what happens with player movement, the Lakers will probably be outside of the NBA Finals picture again.
Kupchak listed the lack of training camp and the multitude of injuries the Lakers faced throughout the season as possible reasons that D'Antoni had failed to reach the heights of excellence the franchise usually expects.
There is certainly some merit to Kupchak's logic, but if he took the time to write a list with all of D'Antoni's positives and negatives, which one would be longer?
Kupchak offered two reasons why D'Antoni deserves another season, but I could probably think of a few others that suggest the Lakers should let go of this failed experiment.
The most obvious example is D'Antoni's lack of any type of consistent defensive strategy, which wouldn't be so bad if he at least understood the concept.
D'Antoni has always seemed to coach on the principles that a great offense negates the need for a strong defense, but in truth his stubborn nature is revealed by his flawed philosophy.
During stints with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, D'Antoni has lived by the hype of his "seven seconds or less" offense, and any hopes of being a real finals contender has died by the lack of substance behind his theory.
Scoring points in bunches will certainly win some games and fans, but eventually you have to prove you can stop someone when it really matters. And none of D'Antoni's teams ever have.
D'Antoni reached the Western Conference finals during his first full season with Phoenix in 2005, and he repeated the feat the very next season in 2006.
The Suns won 114 regular season games during that span, and even though they were constructed specifically in D'Antoni's vision, they only managed to win a combined three games in the conference finals.
Most franchises with a distinct championship history would scoff at the notion of D'Antoni leading their franchise to the promised land, so that explains the Knicks taking a risk on him. But that same reasoning doesn't work for the Lakers. Especially not with their current roster.
So, Kupchak and Lakers' team president Jim Buss were left to decide between a coach who led the franchise to five championships or a coach who never managed to make it out of the conference finals.
And the Lakers chose the latter?
Choosing D'Antoni over legendary former Lakers' coach Phil Jackson was dumb enough in the first place. But failing to see the error in your ways could be even worse.
It would be crazy to think that the Lakers would narrow their coaching search to only those who have had NBA Finals experience, but isn't it equally crazy to complete a trade for the greatest defensive force in the NBA and hire a coach who doesn't believe in defense?
Lakers center Dwight Howard might talk about how he wants to be the focus of the Lakers offense, but deep down in his soul, Howard understands his legacy will be built on his ability to change the game on the other end of the court.
Is there anyone who believes that D'Antoni can coach or coax Howard into the defensive force he was with the Orlando Magic?
Unfortunately the future of the Lakers' franchise may be tied to Howard's decision this summer, and considering that D'Antoni seems to disdain offensive post play and ignore defense, would you be surprised if Howard bolts in the offseason?
Hopefully it won't take the Lakers losing the cornerstone of their franchise to realize that hiring D'Antoni was a monumental mistake, but based on Kupchak's recent endorsement, it's a little difficult to see it in a different light.
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