Report: LA Lakers Lean Towards Firing Mike D'Antoni at Season's End

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30:  Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the game with the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on March 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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To fire Mike D'Antoni, to not fire Mike D'Antoni or to continue waffling back and forth between firing and not firing Mike D'Antoni?

That's the question for the Los Angeles Lakers.

As of now, it's one that the Lakers maybe, quite possibly have an answer to, as ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin told SportsCenter (via Lakers Nation):

How quickly can you count to 10 standing on one foot while reciting all the lyrics to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"? That's how long it will take for the rumor mill to churn out another conflicting report.

Recent scuttlebutt has the Lakers vacillating between keeping and canning D'Antoni.

First, Sporting News' Sean Deveney alleged that Kobe Bryant had "no interest" in playing for Magic Mike next season. Traditionally, thy Black Mamba's will be done in Lakerland, so if he wants D'Antoni gone, then poof—he'll be gone.

Shortly thereafter, though, Bleacher Report's own Kevin Ding revealed that the Lakers were "leaning" toward retaining him. 

"D’Antoni has one more guaranteed season left on his Lakers contract," he wrote, "and the club is leaning toward retaining him despite some privately disgruntled players and massive public disdain."

Most recently, former Kentucky standout Rex Chapman posited that Wildcats coach John Calipari would be joining the Lakers next season:

Chapman's untimely, shall we say, "report" was immediately refuted by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, per the Los Angeles Times' Chris Dufresne: 

Soon after that, team spokesperson John Black parroted the same thing, via USA Today's Sam Amick:

When D'Antoni himself was pressed about the rumor, he told Amick, "it's not a big deal."

Basically, the Lakers haven't made up their mind. That's what you should take away from this. Reports wouldn't be contradicting each other almost daily if they were certain to keep or fire D'Antoni. Not even the coach himself knows what's going to happen.

"Well, I think after the year is over, we'll sit down with management and see where they're going, see where they're headed, and it's up for them to decide," D'Antoni told Amick. "It's not for me to decide."

No, it's not his decision. It's the Lakers' decision, and they need to make one. But right now, they can't, because much of what the Lakers do this offseason will ultimately determine D'Antoni's fate.

If they decide to spend like crazy in free agency and bring in scads of players who can help them win now, perhaps they'll go in a different, more Kobe-friendly direction. But if they decide to conserve funds for summer 2015, when Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, (possibly) LeBron James et al. become available, then they're more likely to keep D'Antoni around for at least another season.

To D'Antoni's credit, he sounds like a man who wants to stay.

"Hey look, this is a great place," D'Antoni explained to Amick. "Any player who has a destination of L.A. – it's pretty good. I've been lucky to be here. I don't want to say, 'Oh yeah (I'll be back),' but I don't know. And I'm sure that everybody is going to have to sit down and figure it out."

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 6:  Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers answers questions after the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 6, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
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Yours truly tends to fall in the minority with Magic Mike. He's hardly been given a fair shake at this thing. There's no denying his defensive shortcomings, but the talent on the Lakers' roster doesn't reveal much, if anything, about his potential. 

For most of this season, the Lakers have housed personnel that, collectively, rivaled the talent on the Philadelphia 76ers. D'Antoni has coached through key injuries, ultimately guiding Los Angeles' merry band of misfits to 25 victories. Under the circumstances, I'll take it. The Lakers should take it.

"For as much heat as he takes, I don't think that he has had a fair shot at it, either," Chris Kaman, who has often been at odds with D'Antoni, said of his head coach, per Ding.

Indeed he hasn't. This season has been anything but fair for the Lakers and D'Antoni.

We'll just have to wait and see if this summer is equally unforgiving to Magic Mike or if justice finally prevails in Los Angeles.