Mike D’Antoni Reportedly Resigns as Lakers Coach

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Mike D'Antoni

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Days removed from news that the Los Angeles Lakers retained him as head coach, Mike D’Antoni resigned from the team, general manager Mitch Kupchak announced Wednesday evening.

D’Antoni owned a 67-87 mark in his two seasons as the Lakers head coach since taking over early in the 2012-13 season for the fired Mike Brown. Kupchak issued the following statement on his departure:

“Given the circumstances, I don’t know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons. On behalf of the Lakers, we thank Mike for the work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude that he brought to the team every day. We wish him the best of luck.”

Lakers management took 10 days after the regular season came to a conclusion before opting to keep D’Antoni, but there was reportedly a standstill when it came to the coach’s 2015-16 option.

D’Antoni had a $4 million team option in 2015-16. According to USA TODAY Sports, D’Antoni had concerns about returning for this coming season without assurance that the club option for 2015-16 will be picked up. D’Antoni did not want to return as a “lame-duck coach.”

There has been no indication whether the Lakers’ unwillingness to pick up that option was the decisive factor in D’Antoni’s decision to resign.

Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol all battled injuries during the past season, leading to the Lakers finishing 27-44 in D’Antoni’s first full season at the helm. In all, D’Antoni’s team missed 319 games due to injury, resulting in 35 different starting lineups, as well as the worst 82-game record in franchise history.

But there was also reported disputes between D’Antoni and a handful of players, including Gasol, a free agent this summer. And D’Antoni was rumored to be on his way out of Los Angeles as early as last month.

The decision to keep D’Antoni was expected to play a major role in terms of personnel for next season, namely impending free agent Pau Gasol.

Earlier this month, Yahoo! Sports reported that Gasol would “listen closely” if the Lakers were interested in bringing him back, largely because of his relationship with Bryant. But his return could be contingent on more than just a friendship. Gasol may be too pricy for the Lakers to re-sign him. And given the fact that Gasol and D’Antoni had “misunderstandings” throughout the course of the season, it seemed unlikely they could co-exist for another year.

It’s not just Gasol whose future with the team may depend on D’Antoni’s return. The Los Angeles Daily News suggests Jordan Hill would want out of Hollywood if D’Antoni returned, and instead he’ll seek an organization with a greater emphasis on big men.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.
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