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Mike D’Antoni isn’t the one to flip the switch for the Lakers

Mike D'Antoni was brought in to stablize the Lakers and lead them to the NBA playoffs, but is he the right man for the job?
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Kobe Bryant said things aren’t working and it’s time for a change.

Coach Mike D’Antoni decided the Lakers didn’t need to practice Tuesday.

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Dear Phil…

The dysfunctional Lakers stayed overnight after Monday’s loss in Chicago, because who wants to get to Memphis sooner rather than later?

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After a good night’s sleep, they took a midmorning flight to Memphis, which still allowed the Lakers all afternoon to work on what makes them so lousy.

But apparently D’Antoni thinks the Lakers are hopeless, as so many of you do.

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And yet if the star player, who has been on his best behavior so far, suggests it’s time for changes — and who out there disagrees? — why not change plans?

Why not try something different?

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But if there has been one stubborn constant beyond the Lakers’ losing this season, it’s D’Antoni’s reluctance to work overtime to correct things.

Why bother, I guess.

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But it’s odd when you consider D’Antoni started in November, so every minute working his team would be precious, you would think.

Or how about just getting the guys together and having Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard introduce themselves to the guys who are supposed to pass them the ball?

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How often have we been told the Lakers’ problem is they haven’t had the chance to play together more?

Is D’Antoni trying to save his players’ legs? Then have them sit down as he teaches them how to mesh better.

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Once he said he doesn’t need this job and he can always go play golf. The question now becomes a legitimate one: Is his heart in this?

Why isn’t he doing his job as both coach and teacher? Why isn’t he making adjustments? Or coming across more alive than dead?

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Have you ever seen anyone look so befuddled?

It’s as if he is hell-bent on destruction, his system trumping talent if it cannot fit into his approach.

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How do you bench Gasol? Insanity.

It’s a clear-cut case of a coach who does not know how to make adjustments, and at this level of coaching shouldn’t he be one of the best at making adjustments?

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He promised Showtime, but who knew he was talking about the opposition? In fact he promised a lot, and has yet to deliver anything.

And what does it say about someone who doesn’t learn from his own mistakes? He couldn’t find common ground in New York with Carmelo Anthony, and it hurt him. Here he goes again with Gasol.

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Depending on whose day it is to be ripped, Kobe is the Lakers’ problem, or Gasol, or this week it’s Howard.

But isn’t the problem the guy who is being paid to get the most out of each one of them?

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Yet it’s unclear whether he even communicates with them.

If Howard is playing like a dog against Chicago, as it appeared Monday, and pouting because he’s not getting the ball, where’s D’Antoni?

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Why isn’t he in Howard’s face? Or throwing an arm around him and expressing understanding?

I have spent time with Howard, and there is one thing very obvious about the big guy: He wants to please everyone.

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If you are the head coach of the Lakers, isn’t it your job to understand that and use it to the Lakers’ advantage?

How have we gotten to the ridiculous point in which the question is already being asked about whether the Lakers should trade Howard?

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Two bad games in a row, and all of sudden the prevailing opinion around Lakerland is Howard won’t be back after the season.

That’s nuts.

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Howard is still on the mend, and halfway through the season everyone is just guessing.

If this season continues to go awry, a better question might be who would you rather see return? Howard, Gasol or D’Antoni?

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The Lakers will owe Mike Brown and D’Antoni a combined $14 million after this season if they elect to hire another coach.

Does Howard return with D’Antoni in command?

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If not, does Gasol move to center and play with zest for a coach who has already eviscerated him?

There’s no way Howard gets traded before the Feb. 21 deadline.

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Why would a team trade for Howard without him first agreeing to extend his contract? And why would he do that with the leverage swinging his way this off-season?

And why would a team trade for a guy who is still trying to overcome back surgery?

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The Lakers can’t trade Gasol if they believe Howard will leave at the end of the season.

So these are your Lakers this season, and maybe for some time to come. Thus, my text to Jim Buss on Tuesday afternoon: “Time to call Phil?”

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I have yet to get a response.

t.j.simers@latimes.com


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