On Tuesday, we shared with you a somewhat surprising report indicating that the Los Angeles Lakers are leaning toward keeping Mike D’Antoni at the end of the season. Less than a day later, a conflicting report from ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin claimed that the exact opposite is true and that D’Antoni is likely to be fired.
Toss in the John Calipari rumors and it is obvious no one outside of the organization really knows what the Lakers’ intentions are. What we do know is that general manager Mitch Kupchack insists Kobe Bryant has nothing to do with the coaching decision.
“We will not consult with him,” Kupchak told Sam Amick of USA Today Sports on Wednesday. “No, we won’t consult with him.”
The most recent news we have heard about the relationship between Bryant and D’Antoni came last month, when it was reported that Kobe has “no interest” in playing for D’Antoni next year and is hoping a new head coach will be in place by the start of the 2014-2015 season.
“We won’t consult with him,” Kupchak said emphatically. “Our decisions going forward — we’re not going to do knee-jerk stuff. We’ll let the season end, and take some time. We’ve got a lot of injuries and surgeries to sort through. That’s a lot to accomplish. We have the draft coming up.”
The Lakers are 25-53 this season, but most would argue that D’Antoni has not been given a fair shot due to injuries to Bryant, Steve Nash and others. Jim Buss chose to hire D’Antoni over bringing back Phil Jackson, so you would think he wants to give the decision a chance to work out.
Given the rough state the Lakers are in, Kupchak also admitted that competing for a championship next season is something that may not happen. Amick followed that up by asking how Kobe will feel about that.
“He’ll be fine. He’s got no choice,” he said. “He’ll be fine. When we lose, he’ll rant and rave and be upset and be hot and won’t talk to anybody, but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.”
The $48 million extension the Lakers signed Kobe to this past season is looking worse by the day. It’s tough to imagine him staying healthy after suffering two serious injuries in the last year, and the team has now committed big bucks to a franchise icon who may grow more and more unhappy by the day. If Kobe truly is not involved in selecting the next head coach, he won’t be pleased.