Mike D'Antoni Would Revitalize Lakers' Sluggish Play

Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 9, 2012

CLEVELAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks watches his team play against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game on February 25, 2011 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Six games in, and the Los Angeles Lakers already appear to be reaching for the panic button.

That's because with the team sitting dead last in the Western Conference, despite its shiny off-season acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, head coach Mike Brown has reportedly been relieved of his duties. 

According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Lakers made the decision to move in a new direction this morning. 

Mike Brown has been fired by the Los Angeles Lakers, according to his agent Warren Legarie.

The Lakers are off to a 1-4 start and will play Golden State tonight at the Staples Center.

Now, with Brown apparently out of a job, if the Lakers hope to turn this nightmare of a season around, Jerry Buss will have to move quickly to find a replacement for Brown, who was in just his second season after signing a four-year deal early in 2011. 

At this point, the Lakers' coaching search should really be a two-man race between Mike D'Antoni and former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, even though as ESPN's Marc Stein points out, there are a couple other intriguing names currently unemployed. 

Mike D'Antoni, Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan and Howard's outspoken former coach in Orlando — Stan Van Gundy — are among the accomplished coaching names who are presently unattached. The prospect of Jackson's third stint coaching the Lakers is also sure to be talked about if the star-studded roster continues to slump.

Despite Phil Jackson's legendary credentials and winning pedigree in L.A., relying on a 67-year-old coach who has left the team on two separate occasions can't be viewed as an ideal situation. 

Same goes for Stan Van Gundy, whose clashes with Howard during their time together with the Magic are well-documented. 

So that leaves us with McMillan, Sloan and D'Antoni. Of the three, the former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach may be the best fit for this roster. 

That's why, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, D'Antoni already considered a front-runner.    

Despite D'Antoni's inconsistent stint with the Knicks, he's regarded as one of the league's best offensive architects, as demonstrated by his time in Phoenix, in which the Italian-born D'Antoni received NBA Coach of the Year after his first full season with the Suns in 2004-05. 

It also doesn't hurt that D'Antoni is the man who designed the perfect offense for L.A.'s Steve Nash to run, and was on the sidelines for both of Nash's MVP seasons in Phoenix.

Aside from Nash, D'Antoni is also familiar with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. He served as an assistant coach on both the 2008 and 2012 Team USA Olympic squads, on which Howard and Bryant were key contributors. 

There's a point to be made in saying that D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense isn't perfect for a squad with a number of aging stars—Nash, Bryant and Pau Gasol—but the talent to run such a system is certainly there. 

The Lakers must be considering finding a coach who can handle keeping multiple All-Stars content, as the Lakers have at least a handful of players who have been known to publicly express their displeasure when the going gets tough.

D'Antoni managed to keep everyone happy in Phoenix, and did a reasonably good job with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in New York, and with a team that wants to win as badly as L.A., he's the right man to help them get there. 

The Lakers simply have too many stars to be an average offensive team, and in order to address that issue, Mike D'Antoni is the logical choice to be L.A.'s next head coach.