Mike D’Antoni’s Lame Duck Status Won’t End Well for LA Lakers

Even if Mike D'Antoni's brief tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers hadn't been marked by two horrendously disappointing seasons, deafening calls for his ouster and constant sniping from his own players, he'd still be on thin ice right now.

D'Antoni is just days away from becoming one of the least enviable things in sports: a lame-duck coach. He's under contract for just one more season at $4 million, and there's no clear indication as to what the Lakers will do with him.

And while that's bad news for D'Antoni, it's even worse for the Lakers because this situation—no matter how it plays out—will end badly.


Playing out the Deal

If D'Antoni comes back to Los Angeles without signing an extension, it'll be an outright disaster.

The same issues that sunk the Lakers this year will still exist, only they'll be made worse because every player on the roster will know their coach has absolutely no leverage.

Granted, the roster could be different. L.A. has loads of cap space and could conceivably clean house, save for holdovers like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre. But even with fresh faces on the bench, this would be an untenable situation for D'Antoni—especially if the talent general manager Mitch Kupchak brings in isn't enough to impress Bryant.

And let's be honest: Bryant isn't going to be impressed by anything at this point in his career. He's well into the "cranky veteran" section of his career arc.

Even if the Lakers magically populate the roster with talent, why would those players ever listen to a coach they know lacks the support of management? This is why so few coaches ever reach the final year of their deals. It's almost impossible to have the ear of the roster in such an obviously short-term position.

For what it's worth, D'Antoni is taking a relaxed approach to his uncertain future, telling Sam Amick ...

About the Author