If Mike D'Antoni is to succeed as the Los Angeles Lakers' head coach, he must believe in the current coaching staff. If he is unable to, a direct result will be his inability to perform a primary function of a Lakers head coach.
Maintaining the morale of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers' star-studded roster.
To make it clear, I find it to be preposterous when a head coach comes on and is not allowed to name his own coaching staff. All this type of action does is prevent a coach from being able to equip himself with the personnel he believes to be best for his system.
With that being said, the Lakers are an extraordinarily peculiar case.
With Mike Brown and Bernie Bickerstaff each serving as head coach for part of this young season, the Lakers have grown accustomed to change at the top. With the Lakers brass opting to go with D'Antoni over Phil Jackson, the unexpected continues to compile (via ESPN Los Angeles).
In turn, uncertainty appears to be the only fitting word for the Lakers' future.
Should D'Antoni opt to keep the current coaching staff on board, however, the Lakers could find comfort in the change of scenery. The up-tempo offense soon to be employed will be welcomed should the likes of Bernie Bickerstaff and Eddie Jordan be the ones who preach it.
If not, we could see L.A. go through the same growing pains that got Mike Brown fired.
Belief in Bernie Bickerstaff
Say what you will about the sample size of Bernie Bickerstaff's tenure as interim head coach, but the players clearly believe in his preachings. For that reason, it is imperative that D'Antoni keeps the veteran coach on the sidelines.
Honestly, what benefit would there be in doing otherwise?
Bickerstaff has as great an understanding for the current crop of players as any ever could. He's shown an uncanny ability to balance the distribution of minutes between the stars and athletic reserves, also producing the best performances of Antawn Jamison's short Laker career.
Although his power would be limited as an assistant coach, Bickerstaff's influence would be significant.
Defining Eddie Jordan's Role
The most significant move of Mike D'Antoni's entrance as head coach will be defining the role of Eddie Jordan. Keep in mind, it was Jordan who was at the forefront of the teaching of the Princeton-style offense.
So what will he do now?
As previously stated, D'Antoni should have the luxury of naming his own coaching staff. Although Bickerstaff is the type of coach you keep on, Jordan appears to be an odd man out in this scenario.
For that reason, an option could be to let him go in favor of someone D'Antoni believes in.
With that being said, D'Antoni and Jordan could find a way to work off of one another. After all, it was Jordan who coached Antawn Jamison through the prime years of his career with the Washington Wizards.
Could Jordan now step up and bring Jamison to the level expected of him?
Limit the Moving Pieces
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, coach D'Antoni is expected to reach out to fellow Team USA coach Nate McMillan. The move makes sense considering McMillan's familiarity with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard from the 2006 FIBA World Championships, 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
Beyond McMillan, how much more change can the Lakers afford?
With the Lakers preparing to play under their third head coach of the 2012-13 regular season, they must have some form of stability. The perfect way to provide them with that is to keep the remaining coaching staff in place.
McMillan is a familiar face, but could the Lakers afford to play for any more new coaches?
Chances are, they cannot. Which is exactly why D'Antoni must make due with what he has at his expense for the remainder of the 2012-13 regular season.
Even if the Lakers are placing clamps on a coach that must run free.