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Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 at 10:55 am  |  63 responses

Lakers Management Blames the Players Not Head Coach Mike D’Antoni


As the Los Angeles Lakers’ hellish season trudges forward, the vast majority of the blame for their troubles has fallen on the shoulders of head coach Mike D’Antoni. Fans and the media see him as the main culprit for this ongoing disaster. As for the only voices that truly matter — those belonging to the Laker front-office and ownership group — they seem to think the players (and their perceived lack of effort) are at fault. Per ESPN: “Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike (D’Antoni) as a coach,’ GM Mitch Kupchak said. ‘I think if you spoke to him, his vision on Day 1 was dramatically different than it is today. It’s the coach’s job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he’s done things and I think that’s what Mike is going through right now is just the process. The Lakers have hit the midway point of the season riding a three-game losing skid as some of the promises made in D’Antoni’s introductory news conference in November are starting to ring hollow. D’Antoni claimed the team should “easily” average 110-115 points per game under his guidance. They’ve crossed the 110-point threshold just eight times in the 31 games since he took over, going 5-3. At the time of D’Antoni’s hiring, Kupchak said the new coach’s system was “more suited to the talent” on the Lakers than Phil Jackson’s Triangle offense, and yet several players have had a difficult time fitting in — Dwight Howard has sniped publicly about his lack of post-up and shot attempts, Pau Gasol has balked at accepting his role off the bench and free agent acquisitions Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks have both had to endure strings of DNP-CDs (Did Not Play — Coaching Decision) under D’Antoni. Yet, Kupchak said D’Antoni’s shuffling of the roster is evidence that the coach is willing to change and try new things in order to try to start winning. ‘It’s not like he started a week or two ago trying to figure this thing out,’ Kupchak said. ‘He’s been searching for combinations now for probably six to eight weeks. Understandably, I think the longer the season goes the more is at stake and the bigger hole you dig, the more dramatic your adjustments or your take on coaching has to become. I think that’s what he’s doing. He’s grabbing every rabbit out of the hat trying to look for something that works.’ [...] ‘You don’t want to get too emotional one way or the other, but, we’re halfway through now,’ Kupchak said. ‘Quite frankly, we’ve dug a hole and I think it’s frustrating for everybody. It’s certainly not what anybody or everybody expected halfway through the season.’ Kupchak singled out the Lakers’ effort, or lack thereof, as the most frustrating part to see. ‘I’m a little bit concerned about our effort,” Kupchak said. “I’d like to see better effort on the court. When the ball is not bouncing your way, when shots aren’t going in, you just can’t seem to get a break, the one thing you can control on the court is your effort and loose balls and running the floor, defending, offensive rebounding. I think back to the Miami game and I have that vision of LeBron (James) diving on that ball at midcourt. That’s effort. It’s natural when things get tough to hesitate and be unsure, lose confidence. That’s one thing that we can’t let happen. We have to maintain our confidence and our effort more than anything has to be at an all-time (high) to get through this period.’”

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  • Jay Cutler

    This doesn’t mean much. Coaches receive public votes of confidence all the time and then get canned 2 days later.

  • Caboose

    Oh lordy…

  • http://twitter.com/thursti_tyht Thurstian Tsui

    How exactly has his vision changed from Day 1? He still sits one of the best post players in the game, he can’t work his superstar center into the offense and he’s still trying to make the Lakers into a run and gun team.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    D’Antoni also said he was on a lot of painkillers during that initial press conference, even said 110 points easily isn’t realistic the NEXT DAY. But let’s ignore that. — but the players, lack of depth/effort/health are the actual problem. Which SHOULD be pretty clear, considering two polar opposite coaches w/ two polar opposite systems had the same struggles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Well pretty much everyone is on different pages right now, from the GM and Coach to the superstar(s) and role players. This team doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs.

  • shockexchange

    Co-sign. This article only raises the notion that L.A. is talking to Phil behind the scenes. There’s no reason to publicly say you “don’t blame D’Antoni,” unless of course you … er … really do blame D’Antoni.

  • Redd

    Wasnt that said about Brown too?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I really think the Lakers need to blow it up. They still have the amnesty left to use (please correct me if I’m wrong), and they need to use it on either Kobe, Pau, or MWP ASAP. Since they are not going to use it on Kobe (too much value away from his on-court production), they need to use it on Pau or MWP. Pau would make the most sense.

    They are not competing for championships anymore, not with this band of players. Let Dwight walk, amnesty someone and sign better bench players with the flexibility you acquire. Kobe has one more season to go – it would be crappy if he his 18 year career comes to an end next year with an 11th seed finish or a first round exit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    They were even smoother with Brown. They said to the media they supported him 100% and then canned him 2 days later.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    I love Phil, but he has way too much ego to come back to the team that didn’t even have the courtesy to give him till the agreed-upon timeframe to make a decision. Unless of course, the Lakers give him complete control of personnel and veto power, which I don’t see happening given Jimmy’s despise for PJ.

  • athanasia columbus

    lets blame you lakers management for not picking the right coach for the job!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    I blame the fans

  • shockexchange

    Somewhere Phil, Shaq, Odom, and Bynum are laughing uncontrollably at the Lakers’ downfall.

  • Max

    Why?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    100% not serious

  • pposse

    i dont ever remember phil jackson or mike brown 8 games below .500 after 41 games into the season..with a lineup that has 3 MVP’s, All Defensive first teams, etc. etc.

  • Bike

    Exactly. Said exact same thing about Brown before canning him two days later.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    .Phil Jackson? Does the number 2 confuse you? Did i say, 3 polar opposite coaches?
    .And, Mike Brown was on pace to be 11-30 at this point in the season. Which, mathematically speaking, is worse then they are now.

  • bike

    This is all Jack Nicholson’s fault.

  • pposse

    Or maybe, both systems…the Princeton and D’Antonis just suck balls..

  • pposse

    that was mathematically speaking

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    considering the team has been no worse than 8th offensively at any point this season, that clearly isn’t the problem.
    .
    mathematically speaking.

  • Jeff Yau

    1. He is making adjustments with the lineup when he should be making adjustments to his offense. 2. Lakers are old, and he should see they are fatigue and don’t have full energy for both ends. 3. Of course he blames on his players. If he did blame on the coach, it would be two wrong coaches in the last two years.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    They all screwed up. Bad coaching hire. Top heavy roster built around a player who doesn’t make others better. Traded for a big name player who needs others to make him better on offense. Hard to admit when you’re wrong sometimes.

  • RKJ92

    Nah it would be a perfect ending to Horry Jr’s career :’) <3

  • Draak Grafula

    They can’t just Amnesty Pau. He would probably sign with the Heat for the vets minimum.

  • AQWORD

    I blame one player. Lobe Tryant !

  • Max

    Damn internet should have a sarcasm sign.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Nick Tha Quick

    I’m sure you also blame him for the Patriots loss, RG3′s knee, global warming, the economy and Tiger Wood’s poor putting game too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    I think the blame goes both ways. the players for their lack of consistent effort on the defensive end and the coach for his lack of adjustments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Why not? Its been reported that if the Lakers were to trade Pau, they want players who will bring them immediate salary cap relief – no long term contracts. So, whether they amnesty him or not, they want salary cap relief in return. But either way, he’s going to another team while saving the Lakers money.

    The Lakers wanted to win a ring and take on the tax, but they have a extremely slim chance of winning a ring, so now their main priority is/should be cutting costs where possible and retooling for next year. Amnestying a player who’s set to make 18-19 million this season and next would shed quite a bit of their payroll. I’d prefer getting rid of MWP instead but Pau’s contract is much heavier and isn’t really justifiable given his current production.

    Plus, its not like they’re using him properly anyway.

  • roscoe

    Pau-ter needs to suck it up, rebound like a man, and play hard…

    dh12 needs to grow up and demand the ball in the paint & make FTs…

    kb24 needs to lead better, draw more fouls, & demand everyone play hard…

    nash needs to play the good cop, draw more fouls, & shoot more…

    pringles needs to change, get the team’s mojo going, and instill confidence in the bench…

    problems solved.

    if not, change the coach to pjax & see what happens.

  • bringbackthesonics

    if the past is any indication he’ll get fired in 2 days. finally something for lakers fans to look forward to

  • 23

    I’d be cool to see Pau in san Antonio

  • Redd

    Yep, Lakers aren’t a loyal management to me it seems, I may be wrong in assuming however.

  • Pedestrian Nightmare

    Come on, PARAGRAPHS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    I don’t think any management in pro sports is loyal.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    yup

  • Redd

    Trailblazers were pretty loyal to Oden I felt. I do feel there’s a very select few. But in general, yeah you’re right it’s a capitalistic endeavor.

  • robb

    Of course, they’ll never recognise they made a terrible decision. You have 4 future HOF there and they are losing like this? Not the players fault. They’d play better without D’Antoni’s system. Just let them play the way they want to play. I’m sure they’d understand each other better. They are talented enough

  • flows

    All correct. Plus, they lost to OKC and diplayed a shockingly low level of perimeter defense. To “correct” this, they add a 38 year old PG and a big man. Puzzling.

  • flows

    Would Kobe really be “happy” with a 10 game win streak in which he averaged 21 pts on 50% fg and only 16 fga’s a game?

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Sanchez

    somewhere smush parker is yelling, f*ck these ni66as

  • LakeShow

    Your an idiot if you don’t think he would.
    6th chip>>scoring allot of points.

  • RunNgun

    Management is at fault. They surrounded D’Antoni with guys who can’t play the Run and Gun Offense. It’s time to trade everyone away and build around Kobe, D12, and Nash. Once the team is surrounded with the right players, watch out NBA!

  • Vince

    Paragraphs damn it. But come on. Management has to take the fall for this one, Brown was clearly not the reason for the Lakers’ shitty start and D’Antoni is not to blame for the still continuing crappiness of this team.

    You don’t just throw a bunch of players together and hope that their chemistry and game styles will magically complement each other and form an offensive and defensive juggernaut. It doesn’t work like that. The only people who can play consistent-ish defense on that Lakers squad – and I use defense very loosely – are Artest, Howard and Kobe. Offensively its all Kobe – always has and I guess always will be.

    I honestly don’t care much for the Lakers and don’t follow them much but I think I can speak for everyone when I say you can’t win games without a decent bench to backup the starters. Hell at this point, the Bobcat’s bench is better than their’s. Its ridiculous.

    The players and the coach can only do so much with what they’ve been given.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Can’t amnesty a guy mid-season anyway tho

  • The Seed

    Coaches are suppose to adjust to the players they have to work with, not players having to adjust to an offensive set that does not work, see Suns and Knicks. Personally, Lakers should have just kept Mike Brown. Phil is laughing right now.

  • Yi-Cheng Chen

    I wonder what is phil jackson thinking of right now.

  • Draak Grafula

    I was actually joking for he most part. I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but to me it would seem that amnestying Pau would be a great loss. (At least financially if not otherwise.) Mostly because in the right system, you know he can be extremely productive.

    If I understand correctly, when these amnestied players get picked up, the old team will be paying the difference in salary between the old and new contract anyway. Therefore these players won’t care if they sign crummy new deals (at least for the period that their last contract still lasts.)

    You’ll end up with a situation where you face an opposing team for which you pay the salary of possibly their best player… That sucks.

    I do agree with you that something has to happen. Pau and Dwight just can’t seem to play totgether (which still baffles me). You have to move at least one of them, but it has to be through a trade, even if it’s a bad one, so you can keep at least some of that value. And since Joe Johnson, we know that every contract can be traded.

  • MasterSplinter

    Cosign LakeShow…. That’s the most ignorant statement i’ve read this week…. Oh by the way…Kobe is shooting 47% which isn’t horrible. Kobe wants to win… period. You saying Kobe wouldn’t be happy averaging 21 points with a 10-game win streak should let everyone on this site know to not take your posts seriously. He only averages 8 more points than that. You don’t think he would average 4 less baskets a game for 10 wins in a row?…..smh

  • MasterSplinter

    The San Antonio Spurs are pretty loyal, they don’t move their core players very much, or their coaches. They have had the same core for almost a decade. Which is why their franchise is always in the mix, they all trust each other, and don’t play with the same dramatic issues as other teams.

  • Raz

    Dantoni, is not changing his strategy at all, just shuffling the lineups. He is not adaptable. I think Einstein said the definition of insanity was to keep trying the same thing and expect a different result

  • pposse

    i do recall the Miami Heat going to the finals in their first year that they were put together. They didn’t have a bench nor did they have a Center, still made it to the finals. This LA Laker team has ZERO excuses. You don’t trade for Dwight Howard, bring in Nash with Kobe and Pau and not expect championship is absurd.

  • pposse

    child please..they don’t move the core cause the core players constantly take pay cuts so that they can play with each other. If anything SA management is up front with their players, and say “hey this needs to go down, or this will happen” wherein Duncan and Ginobli graciously take pay cuts for the “better of the team” – that has nothing to do with management and more to do with the players and their business savvy (or lack thereof, however you want to look at it)

  • Redd

    Yeah thanks can’t believe I didn’t mention them, lol.

  • Omar

    Hilarious because I blame Lakers managament!

  • Vince

    Yes but the Miami Heat had something the Lakers didn’t – chemistry and talent. Lebron and Bosh both wanted to go to South Beach, they had played together already a few times in the All-Star games, they were good friends, etc. There was already an underlying friendship that meant they were comfortable with each other.

    Talent wise, you can’t compare the Heat to the Lakers, Kobe is, well Kobe. Howard has just come back from back surgery, Nash is 38, Pau is soft, Blake is washed up and Artest is… MWP. The Heat have the Big Three, who play hard, are efficient, are high volume scorers, can fill out an entire stat sheet and are team players, they also have Haslem who although undersized is a banger in the post and Mario Chalmers who is a 3-point threat and decent ball distributor.

    Heat > Lakers

    The Lakers’ problem is they thought that bringing those three together will instantly bring them a championship. They have that ‘entitled’ attitude where they think that whatever roster move they do will lead them to the Second Round at least. No. Management screwed this up.

  • pposse

    the players may have an entitled attitude, but thats up to the coach to fix.

    Last year the whole world was saying that Dwight Howard was a better center than Bynum, everyone not named Shaquille O’neil that is. I’m feeling like you are pulling some revisionist history right now. The management just traded for the best C in the league, retained the combo of Kobe and Pau (2X championship duo) and upgraded from Ramon Sessions at pg to a former 2 time MVP while having a formidable veteran named Antwan Jamison come off the bench. That team on paper is stacked. If I am the owner of the Lakers, in July i am shaking my GM’s hands and buying him a bottle of Luis the XIII and a freshly rolled cubans. They don’t perform cause of the coaching imo.

    The only mismanagement that occurred was not firing mike brown earlier and hiring d’antoni instead.

  • Vince

    Well I guess thats where we disagree. Anyone who thinks Dwight was/is the best C in the L was/is misguided.

    1. He was coming out of a very tense and very public spat with Orlando

    2. He’s a great player but very weak mentally

    3. He was going to have major surgery on his back during the offseason

    If those aren’t red flags I don’t know what is. Bynum was coming out of arguably his best season as a pro, he is stronger mentally, better offensively than Dwight, although not as athletic, and IMO on the same level defensively as Howard. Trading him away was very poor decision making.

    Now, onto the already incumbent Lakers F Pau Gasol, personally I never liked him, he’s too soft in my eyes, although I can see what he brings to the table. If anything, he should’ve been the one to be traded.

    Now if you’re trying to sell me that anyone thought Antwan Jamison had anything left in the tank coming into the season, I ain’t buying. He had a very uninspiring season in Cleveland, and was about to turn 36. He was a while away from his prime.

    Lakers should’ve tried to get some younger players to join the squad, the Meeks signing was a good one, and keeping Hill was another. Unfortunately thats it. A bench consisting of Duhon, Meeks, Hill, Jamison, Clarke and other loose pieces won’t and hasn’t achieved much.

    STEVE NASH CAN’T PLAY D AND IS 38. God damn people, how hard is that to understand, they should’ve kept Sessions!

    Coaching wise, I’m neutral on Brown and D’Antoni, given the right situation they’ll thrive, LA was not that situation. I think Brown did alright in his first season, and I would’ve rather seen the Zen Master signed than D’Antoni. If management wanted to support D’Antoni and give him the best shot to do well and get into the playoffs they would’ve shipped Gasol out of town for a 4 who can stretch the floor (and somehow get their hands on even some mediocre talent for their bench).

    Management screwed up.

  • MasterSplinter

    pposse you just prove my point…. players wouldn’t do that without loyalty both ways. I’ve seen your posts….you argue to argue. Bring some valid points. What’s your argument…..that the Spurs aren’t loyal? Go wake your gf or bf up and argue about stuff that makes no sense…

  • pposse

    the only thing spurs management is loyal to is money then winning, just like every other management group out there (thats my thesis). They might put a higher premium on winning than some, but don’t get it twisted and act like this franchise cares extra special about their players than any other one. They found a formula (Pop plus Duncan Parker and Ginobli) that keeps them in the mix for a decade so they stay with it. Tell me tho, has this combination won a championship since Duncan turned 32? But they are good enough to get into deep rounds in the playoffs, which ultimately creates more revenue for the team. Why would anyone want to tweek that?

  • MasterSplinter

    Still arguing just to argue, your funny…. How does any of what you just said prove that the Spurs management aren’t loyal? Your thesis? Lol…..who said anything about winning a championship, we were talking about loyal management. Now you are just trying to argue a point that has no relevance to what we were talking about.

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