Lakers Rumors: Latest on Possible Coaching Changes in LA

Alex KayCorrespondent IMay 5, 2013

April 26, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers  point guard Steve Nash (10), point guard Steve Blake (5), assistant coach Chuck Person, head coach Mike D'Antoni, assistant coach Steve Clifford and athletic trainer Gary Vitti watch game action against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half in game three of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have no intention of canning Mike D’Antoni, but the supporting cast around the beleaguered head coach could change drastically this offseason.

Due to number of vacant head coaching positions around the league and throughout the college ranks, the star-studded assistant staff in L.A. will garner some serious consideration from a number of suitors over the spring and summer.

Eddie Jordan, an associate to D’Antoni last season and former head coach of the Kings, Wizards and 76ers, has already been poached by Rutgers—the first of possibly many defections from D’Antoni’s 2012-13 stable of talented coaches.

Steve Clifford could be the next to go, as the Charlotte Bobcats have reportedly received permission from the Lakers brass to interview the longtime assistant (h/t the Charlotte Observer).

Clifford is known for his defensive mentality and served under both Jeff Van Gundy (2001-02, Knicks, 2003-07 Rockets) and his brother, Stan (2007-12, Magic), before joining the Lakers last season.

If they lose him, expect the Lakers to bolster their already ongoing efforts to find more defensive-oriented assistants to complement their offensive-minded head coach.

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger found that L.A. has a desire to bring in former Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan—who is familiar with D’Antoni from their work together with Team USA.

However, McMillan is a hot name on the coaching carousel this spring and is a strong choice to land one of the numerous openings. It’s highly likely he would choose a potential head coaching gig over an assistant job, even if it's with the Lakers.

The other name that is being thrown about is Alvin Gentry, former head coach of the Phoenix Suns and longtime assistant under D’Antoni during his time in the desert.

However, Gentry has also interviewed for the Bobcats gig and may not be available as an assistant for the 2013-14 campaign.

Regardless of who the team chooses, they need to have a strong defensive background and the iron will to teach their system to a group of superstar players that may not want to learn.

However, it’s imperative that the Lakers—who allowed 101.0 points per game in 2012-13—improve on that end of the floor. This team will not return to championship form unless it is capable of locking down the opposition and getting stops when it needs them.

If Dwight Howard re-signs this summer as an unrestricted free agent, the main piece will already be in place for one of the coaches to build a defensive system around.

It’s not going to be easy, but L.A. has to swing for the fences and bring in an ambitious coach who is willing to get this group of superstars to D up.