Lakers need Mike D’Antoni to be the right call

D'Antoni won NBA Coach of the Year in his first full season as head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
(Jeff Gross / Getty Images)

The timing of the Mike D’Antoni hiring by the Lakers is a curiosity, but then so was the firing of Mike Brown.

Regardless, the Lakers have a new coach lined up as initially reported by The Times’ Mike Bresnahan in the early morning hours.

D’Antoni is the perfect fit for Steve Nash. Kobe Bryant is very fond of the man who helped coach him to an Olympic gold medal.

The Lakers land a dynamic offensive coach whose Phoenix Suns’ teams played far-better defense than many would credit.

The Suns weren’t a squad that would lock teams down, but D’Antoni’s gave effort defensively and always seemed to have a wide point differential, despite regularly giving up over 100 points a night.


D’Antoni never had a defender like Dwight Howard in the middle, at least not in Phoenix.

His run in New York with the Knicks was starting to hum with point guard Raymond Felton before the team made the Carmelo Anthony trade. A coach dependent on point-guard play and ball-movement was given a ball-stopper in Anthony and no true point guards.

When lightning struck and injuries gave Jeremy Lin the opportunity, Phoenix was reborn in New York ... albeit briefly.

Do the best coaches adapt to their personnel or does management work to find the pieces to play to the coach’s strengths?

The Lakers as constructed have Nash, Howard and Bryant. A shooter like Jodie Meeks and even the struggling Antawn Jamison may find new life with D’Antoni.

It’s not as clear how Pau Gasol fits with D’Antoni. Perhaps as the lone center he would flourish, but with Howard, is there enough speed and spacing for D’Antoni’s team to run?

Gasol’s jump shot is passable but seems to come and go, especially under the hotter lights of the playoffs.

The Lakers may need to tweak their roster to give D’Antoni what he needs or perhaps he’ll need to adjust his schemes to account for the talent already present.

D’Antoni is an interesting choice. He’s a good choice. He may even be the right choice.

Passing on Phil Jackson was a bold move. Based on ring count alone, there was no one better for the job.

The window with Nash and Bryant is a short one. Howard will be a free agent this summer. After a mishire in Mike Brown, the team needs D’Antoni to be the right choice.

Despite multiple trips to the Western Conference Finals, D’Antoni and Nash never advanced any farther.

The Lakers are judged by titles.

Then again, D’Antoni didn’t have Bryant. He didn’t have Howard.

The new Lakers coach has a lot yet to prove, but the same can be said of the team’s front office, whose truest success since Showtime has only come with Jackson on the bench.


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You can email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.