Lakers Insider: Why Would L.A. Not Fire Mike D’Antoni? Here’s Why (Maybe)

LOS ANGELES — Judging from the Twitter response to my recent column about Chris Kaman and Mike D'Antoni, the element that really got to many people was the part about the Los Angeles Lakers leaning toward retaining D'Antoni as head coach next season.

As also stated in the column, no conclusion has been drawn by Lakers officials yet. A broader evaluation is planned for after the season, so whoever wants to organize an anti-D'Antoni petition right now, feel free.

The Lakers are already well-aware of the fanbase's general contempt for D'Antoni—along with Kobe Bryant answering, "I don't know," on The Dan Patrick Show when asked if D'Antoni should return.

But the decision whether to fire the coach with one guaranteed year (worth $4 million) left on his contract includes other elements.

If the Lakers continue to focus on 2015 free agency for the more meaningful shift in the team's direction, they are reluctant to bring on a new coach for 2014-15 and commit contractually to another three or four years with that coach while not knowing how he would mesh with the next star player or players.

One option would be to ask Kurt Rambis, D'Antoni's assistant who has not exactly grown into a D'Antoni disciple in his one season away from Phil Jackson, to fill in as head coach for next season. There'd be some possibility of Rambis earning the right to stay on for 2015-16 and beyond. (It'd be familiar territory for Rambis, who was Lakers head coach late in the 1998-99 season before Jackson swooped in for the 1999-2000 season.)

But being short term for Rambis or anyone else is a very awkward position for a coach and for the players he's trying to lead. Would that be better than giving D'Antoni one more season to be a lame duck? Odds are that no matter his inadequacies, there would be more success for his system with many of the same players back, plus Bryant.

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