Lakers have faith in him
When the Lakers fired Mike Brown after just five games this season, the message was pretty simple: This team was built to win a title and the way things were going, management had lost faith that Mike Brown was the coach to lead them there.
Mike Brown, the same coach who had wowed them in his interview just 18 months earlier. Mike Brown, the guy who had taken LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals not so long ago. Mike Brown, who got the Lakers to the second round of the playoffs in his first season.
That's the guy they had lost faith in. Even after all that. There are a lot of reasons for that, and this is too short of a space to get into them. But the Lakers had seen enough, or rather, not seen enough, over Brown's short tenure to make that evaluation. He just wasn't their guy anymore.
Mike D'Antoni's record is far worse than Brown's at this stage in his Laker career. His accomplishments are fewer. And yes, he's made some mistakes. But when you listen to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak speak about him, it's obvious he still has the one thing that matters here -- the faith of the organization.
I'm not saying they're still as confident he's the right coach with the right system for this team. But it's clear that the Lakers management is still intrigued by what he can do with this roster, if given another year, a full training camp and a healthier draw.
Now, if the Lakers miss the playoffs, all bets are off. That would be a failure I'm not sure any coach could survive. But until that happens, I just get the sense the Lakers want to give D'Antoni another chance, to see if he can reward their faith in him.
His style just doesn't fit
Common sense says Mike D'Antoni should have a full season and a full training camp to be fully judged. But as the Los Angeles Lakers taught us five games into this season, common sense doesn't always come into play when you're the coach of a team with a $100 million payroll expected to win an NBA title now.
Mike Brown didn't have a full season and full training camp during his first season with the Lakers, which ended with a Pacific Division title and second round exit to the Oklahoma City Thunder. After he had a full training camp, the Lakers pulled the plug on his tenure just five games into this season as he pleaded patience while trying to install a new offense.
D'Antoni's record as the Lakers' head coach will likely be around the .500 mark after coaching them for 72 regular season games, which by the way is more regular season games than Brown got before he was shown the door.
To say that D'Antoni's style doesn't fit the Lakers is a massive understatement. The turning point for this team came when they scrapped D'Antoni's system, put the ball in Kobe Bryant's hands and began running something more closely resembling the Triangle instead of "7 Seconds or Less." D'Antoni's point guard Steve Nash has been relegated to an undersized shooting guard in this system and has said on several occasions what the Lakers are running now is nothing close to D'Antoni's system.
So if the Lakers aren't running D'Antoni's system and are only beginning to win now that they are basically doing their own thing, it's time to change coaches. The Lakers were 5-5 when D'Antoni took over. He had plenty of time to lead them to the season they were looking for. Instead, they're on the brink of missing the playoffs and if they do, D'Antoni shouldn't be back next season.