Why Mike D'Antoni's 'Shoot It or Move It' Won't Fly with Kobe and Laker Egos
The shock is over. Even the aftershock is subsiding in Los Angeles.
Former coach Mike Brown's replacement is not Phil Jackson.
It's the ringless Mike D'Antoni. And will be for at least the next three years (according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne).
So as the thoughts surrounding the Lakers head coaching spot turn back toward logistics and fit, it's time to examine just how this up-tempo coach will mesh with his new players.
On the surface, it seems like a good enough fit.
D'Antoni is reunited with Steve Nash, a player he helped guide to consecutive MVP awards (2005, 2006).
He's also inherited some intriguing pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop partners for Nash in Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
The offensive genius even has a few players (Howard, Metta World Peace and Devin Ebanks) whose individual defensive talents will help compensate for their coach's defensive deficiencies.
But there's a reason that Los Angeles parade planners haven't picked up their phones yet.
For every thing pointing to this being a good signing, there are five things suggesting that this is the beginning of yet another disaster.
For starters, this isn't just an aging roster; it's more like an ancient roster.
At full strength, D'Antoni's starting five (Nash, Howard, Gasol, World Peace and Kobe Bryant) will have an average age of 32.6 years. Remove Howard from the equation, and that number jumps to 34.3.
A Mike D'Antoni-led Lakers team will finish...
Experienced (i.e., older) teams can win in this league with savvy and smarts. Some of these teams either keep the score low enough to win with their defense (Boston Celtics) or balance their aging stars with talented, younger players (San Antonio Spurs).
The Lakers' second unit is atrocious, and is a large reason why the team limped to an 0-8 finish in the 2012 preseason. And those youthful additions were part of a Laker summer league squad that lost two games by a combined 91 points.
But more than just the apparent poor fit with the roster at large is D'Antoni's fit with his megastar, Bryant.
Media outlets have jumped on Bryant's previous work with D'Antoni on Team USA as a solid building block for this relationship, but Bryant's not quite the same player when he trades the red, white and blue uniforms for the royal purple and gold.
If the Lakers were steamrolling teams like Team USA did, then Bryant might be O.K. being the third or fourth option like he was in London.
But with his team off to a 3-4 start and Bryant establishing himself as the most effective player on the roster, he'll demand touches early and often.
And they won't be D'Antoni's famed "shoot it or move it" touches either. They'll be slower, controlled isolation touches where Bryant can do what he does best: attack his man in a one-on-one situation.
Nash and Gasol could (and should) be ecstatic about what they can accomplish in D'Antoni's system. But I can think of 47 million reasons why those two voices may not be the most vocal ones in the Lakers' locker room.
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