Mike D’Antoni announced his resignation as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach on Wednesday night. The 62-year-old decided to step down when the organization refused to pick up his option for the 2015-2016 season.
With D’Antoni gone, the Lakers will hire their fourth head coach in just five seasons. The former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach had one of the most unsuccessful tenures in Lakers history. In two seasons, he led the team to a 67-87 record, recording no playoff wins.
The Lakers won 27 games this year, marking their lowest ever win total in an 82-game season. The team played almost the whole year without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol was forced to miss 22 games.
“Given the circumstances, I don’t know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons,” said General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “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.”
Whoever takes over the Lakers won’t have an easy job. Bryant will be 36, following an injury riddled year, and the team will have to revamp much of its roster.
Despite the challenges, several coaches could be gunning for the open position.
Even before D’Antoni resigned, rumors began to float that Calipari would join the Lakers for the 2014-2015 season. Before Calipari coached Kentucky’s championship game against UConn, former Wildcat and NBA player Rex Chapman tweeted that Calipari to Los Angeles was a “done deal.” Calipari denied the report, but could change his tune, now that the job is available. He had one stint as an NBA head coach, registering a .391 winning percentage with the Nets.
The former Lakers star has been a head coach at three different stops, but he has his eyes set on returning to L.A. The 53-year-old has told TWC SportsNet in Los Angeles that he’s interested in taking over for D’Antoni. Scott was fired in 2013, after three losing seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, he’s had success when given good talent. He led the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. Before going to Cleveland, he led the New Orleans Hornets to 105 total wins in his last two full seasons as their head coach.
If the Lakers want to hire a proven winner, there might be no better choice than Karl. He’s had incredible regular season success, finishing with a winning record in 21 straight years. The Nuggets fired him last season, following a 57-win campaign. Bryant has rejected the notion that the Lakers will rebuild, expressing his desire for the team to compete at a high level in 2014-2015. With Karl’s track record of success, there’s a good chance he’d get the endorsement of the team’s top player.
Like Karl, Hollins lost his job in 2013, even after a strong season. He led the Memphis Grizzlies to 56 wins and a trip to the Western Conference Finals, but the organization decided not to renew his contract. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that the 60-year-old is interested in coaching for Los Angeles. He’s known for being a defensive coach, something the Lakers lacked under D’Antoni. Hollins could land with another team this offseason, if the Lakers don’t pursue hum.