Some Lakers fans were undoubtedly hoping General Manager Mitch Kupchak would pull a Pat Haden and meet his embattled coach on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport late Thursday night before he could board the team plane and coach another game.
This is what happens when you preside over the WORST LOSS IN LAKERS HISTORY and the lowest winning percentage for the team since it moved to L.A. in 1960.
Keeping Mike D'Antoni isn't the dumbest move the Lakers could make, though.
Firing him would be. At least right now.
There is no point in installing an interim coach in a season that has become such an epic fail that now the more losses, the better for draft lottery purposes. So what if Kurt Rambis or Johnny Davis could help the team net five more victories; they would come at the expense of precious pingpong balls.
The unfortunate truth is that the Lakers are probably locked into at least one more awful season and might as well drag D'Antoni along for the ride. With LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony looking like increasingly unrealistic options, the Lakers will probably preserve their maximum salary slot for the summer of 2015, when Kevin Love becomes available.
No matter whom the Lakers draft this summer, that player is probably not going to make them playoff contenders next season, even alongside a healthy Kobe Bryant. Only one of the last 11 No. 1 picks (Andrea Bargnani with the Toronto Raptors in 2006-07) has played for a team with a winning record in his rookie season.
This is not to say that D'Antoni is the long-term coaching answer for the Lakers because he's obviously not. He doesn't communicate properly with players, doesn't coach defense and doesn't do enough to shake his team out of soul-sucking losses such as its 48-point debacle against the Clippers on Thursday. But right now, he's the perfect coach for a bad team and there's no reason to jettison him until the Lakers are ready to take flight.