There is no doubt that the Lakers organization is hungry for more NBA championships, but their brain trust was unwilling to pay the price. Hiring Phil Jackson involved too many stipulations that they just couldn’t stomach. Aside from commanding a higher salary than other candidates, he allegedly wanted more control, travel restrictions, and a stake in ownership as well.
Enter Mike D’Antoni, the only other legitimate option. Steve Nash flourished under his system and earned league MVP honors not once, but twice. Having grown up watching D’Antoni play in Italy, Kobe Bryant idolized him. So it’s an easy sell for the starting Laker backcourt.
However, Lakers’ management has made it clear. This team as it is presently constructed was built to win now. The Lakers’ decision to hire D’Antoni has them moving in the wrong direction. Here are ten reasons why.
10. They already know the triangle. Kobe, Pau, Metta, and Blake are already familiar with the triangle offense Phil would have implemented. If management wasn’t patient enough to give Mike Brown’s Princeton offense more than five games to succeed, doesn’t it make sense to go back to a system in which you won your six previous titles?
9. The need for speed. Mike D’Antoni will incorporate an up tempo style of offense. But if you examine things a little closer, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize the fact that the Lakers don’t have the personnel that is conducive to the way their new head coach wants them to play. They are too old and too slow. Kobe and Nash might love the notion of playing at that kind of pace, but they are no spring chickens. Nash will be 39 before they can ever be crowned the champs. And after having 16 seasons under his belt, 34 year old Kobe has more basketball mileage than anyone in the league. Pau and Metta are only getting older and slower as well.
8. They don’t have the range. D’Antoni’s offense is predicated upon spacing the floor and the ability to shoot from the outside. Aside from Steve Nash, the Lakers don’t have reliable 3-point shooting. They are currently ranked 18th, averaging a subpar 33 percent from behind the arc. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat , favorites to win the championship, rank 3rd and 4th respectively.
Just think about it. Metta World Peace, the volume shooter, having the green light to chuck threes at will. Is that something you find appealing?
7. Size does matter. The Lakers have a distinct size advantage over their opponents. With Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in their frontcourt, they are just too big to match up with. D’Antoni’s system will not cater to their strengths, which is posting up and attacking the rim. He wants to spread the offense as opposed to having a couple of 7-footers clogging up the paint. Superman and the big Spaniard will be underutilized.
A man’s stature is measured by what he does with what he has. What a waste.
6. They lack depth. If Jordan Hill is your best option coming off the bench then you’re in big trouble. Steve Blake has been a disappointment thus far, but then again he’s a backup point guard for a reason. Antawn Jamison is a shell of himself, and Jodie Meeks, when he did get playing time, shot 29 percent, and I’m rounding up.
If they don’t have a deep bench and the starters are required to play heavy minutes while playing up tempo, how can they expect them to do any damage in the playoffs? Fatigue or injuries or both will be too much of a factor by then.
5. No time for showtime. Magic, Kareem, and Worthy are not coming out of that tunnel. The Lakers brain trust long for the glory days of showtime, but the only past this organization should be living in is the one that includes the Zen Master. You can run, but you can’t hide. Your deficiencies that is. They are not a fast break team. Their brand of basketball should be going to their strength, which is pounding the ball inside to their big men so they can attack the basket.
4. Run and Gun doesn’t work in the playoffs. Fast paced basketball doesn’t translate into success in the postseason. The game slows down as the defense intensifies and the team that wins is the one that executes the half-court game better.
3. Defense wins championships. Defense is not considered one of Coach D’Antoni’s strengths. It was supposedly Mike Brown’s forte. Can you imagine what the Laker “D” will look like under the new Mike?
Even if Steve Nash may thrive under Mike D’Antoni’s system, titles are won on the defensive end of the floor. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Nash is the frontline of your defense. Once he allows dribble penetration, the defense breaks down. Sorry, Steve, but you are the weakest link.
2. Risky business. D’Antoni is an unproven coach. Although his style of basketball might be fun to watch, there’s just no substance to it. He failed miserably in New York because the Knicks didn’t have the personnel to thrive under his system. Wait a second. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Mike D’Antoni doesn’t really pass the eye test. He has as many championships as you and I. Zero.
1. You can’t argue with success. There are factors that must’ve swayed owner Jerry Buss and executive vice president Jim Buss to make the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni. But the decision shouldn’t have been based on what they were unwilling to do. When it comes to Phil, you can’t really argue with the results. He has the resume. He has won 11 NBA Championships, while utilizing a system that’s proven to work.
And as Herm Edwards once said, “You play to win the game.”