Imagining a Scenario Where Mike D’Antoni Returns to Lakers

Long-shot scenarios are always intriguing.

A waning election night with the road to victory becoming increasingly byzantine. A sporting event in which the point differential is way more than the minutes left.

The possible last days of a beleaguered NBA coach, when it’s starting to feel like a foregone conclusion.

But sometimes long shots do cross the finish line first, coming from way off the pace, or in Mike D’Antoni’s case, hanging on while gasping for breath after running too fast, too early.

The word from inside the Los Angeles Lakers has been next to nil. During his annual exit interview, general manager Mitch Kupchak offered a terse and ambiguous response to the question of his head coach’s future, per

“Mike is under contract for two more years. If anything happens, we’ll let you know.”

To be more specific, D’Antoni has one more guaranteed season left. The final year of the contract is a team option.

Meanwhile, the coach’s support structure just lost a core component. Dan D’Antoni, an assistant coach under younger brother Mike with the Lakers, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns, has been hired as head coach at Marshall University, according to Rick McCann of The Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

Both brothers are products of Marshall’s Thundering Herd basketball program. Mike now loses a longtime ally and fellow small-ball advocate.

So where does this leave the one-time Coach of the Year? One would think in no-man’s land, waiting to hear his fate. Yet if Los Angeles is indeed looking toward the summer of 2015 when the free-agent class will be much stronger, why would they bring in a new coach now?

According to Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register, a decision may already have been made:

“After 10 days of soul searching, the key...

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