Lakers Rumors: Exhaustive Coaching Search Must Be Done with Eye Toward Future

In life, we all have placeholders. You apply for "safety schools" senior year in case your first choice doesn't accept you. You stick with a job you hate and work under incompetent management to pay rent while sending in applications elsewhere. You hang on for months in a doomed relationship because, hey, it's a hell of a lot easier to be miserable together than alone.

The Los Angeles Lakers wanted Mike D'Antoni to be their placeholder.

They wanted him to come back next season without a contract extension or even a guarantee of his 2015-16 option while general manager Mitch Kupchak and company constructed a plan about his intentional replacement. The Lakers were satisfied walking into training camp with D'Antoni attempting the zero-sum game of repairing toxic relationships with Kobe Bryant and a possibly re-signed Pau Gasol. And if that didn't work, fine—Kupchak could just fire D'Antoni by Christmas, toss an interim tag an assistant's way and go about enacting the franchise's plan.

We all know how that went. D'Antoni had no plans of being anyone's placeholder. Knowing exactly what was going on, D'Antoni pressured the Lakers behind the scenes to guarantee his option. When they didn't and the team made clear it had no intentions of firing him, D'Antoni had the fortitude to do what few others would.

He quit.

It's a move that only a select few coaches would have made, and even though the Lakers agreed to pay $2 million of his remaining contract, D'Antoni's resignation puts the team in a difficult spot. No one is ever satisfied with a placeholder—but it's another feeling entirely when your placeholder drops you.

Kupchak has said there is no timetable for finding a replacement, and if the Lakers plan on interviewing everyone who has been linked to the job, an indefinite timetable might be for the best.

Mike Bresnahan of the Los An...

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