Do you remember when Shaquille O’Neal had his jersey retired at the Staples Center and the Lakers fans were chanting, “We want Phil,” as in Phil Jackson? Well apparently the fans vote for Phil Jackson to come back as the Lakers head coach is falling on the team’s general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Kupchak told the Los Angeles Times that D’Antoni has nothing to worry about in regards to his job security. The Lakers GM said, “Yeah, he’s back. I think he’s done a great job. There’s been no discussions otherwise. He’s made adjustments. He’s been flexible. He’s evaluated how he coaches as the season progressed. He’s listened to the players. He’s very easy to work with and we think in particular since the meeting the day of the Memphis game, yeah.”
Earlier this year D’Antoni coaching was under heavy criticism from the Los Angeles fans and media. The Lakers had a record of 12-20 in D’Antoni’s first 32 games as head coach. Regardless of what the media or fans were saying Kupchak and the Lakers front office stood by Mike and now a team that doesn’t have Kobe is now in the NBA Playoffs.
To be fair D’Antoni was pulled in as the head coach without having a preseason with team. Plus the team has been battling injuries from with Kobe, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
Kupchak sees that as a major factor of the Lakers struggles this season. “Much has been made of the injuries, and the coaching change and no training camp, which is certainly a part of it,” Kupchak said.
He goes on to say, “It takes a while. You’re in New York coaching and you see the Lakers once or twice a year, you don’t know the personnel. And the injury situation when he got here, Steve Nash had the broken leg. There’s just too much going on to really look at it any other way.”
I am guessing that Kupchak will take into account that the Lakers are entering the playoffs without Kobe. If D’Antoni makes it far into the postseason without the team’s star than that will definitely say something for the head coach’s future with the Lakers.