When the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown, they cited a desire for progress. Thus far under their replacement, Mike D'Antoni, the Lakers are just 4-8.
With their latest loss coming by a score of 100-94 against the 5-17 Cleveland Cavaliers, will D'Antoni get the Mike Brown treatment?
The Lakers have reason to believe that D'Antoni can orchestrate a phenomenal offense. Upon his return from injury, point guard Steve Nash should be able to prove just that.
The issue is D'Antoni's greatest weakness: his defensive ineptitude. His response to questions about that level of weakness proves how poor he's handling this situation.
Adi Joseph of USA Today Sports reports that D'Antoni is getting "pissed off" over questions surrounding his approach to defense.
"Hell, yeah, we worked for a half-hour on it," D'Antoni said, following the recent loss. "You're starting to piss me off. You're starting to piss me off because you're saying something that's not factually correct."
If they are practicing defense, then where exactly are the results?
It is time for L.A. to make a decision. So what should that decision be?
Where's the Progress?
For those who missed it, the following is an excerpt of the speech Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak gave on former head coach Mike Brown's firing (via Los Angeles Times).
Today we relieved Mike Brown of his head coaching duties. Mike's a good man, very hard working, maybe one of the hardest-working coaches that I've ever been around. The bottom line is that the team was not winning at the pace that we expected this team to win and we didn't see improvement.
After five games, we just felt that we weren't winning. We made a decision. Maybe it would have changed a month or three months down the road, but with this team we didn't want to wait three months and then find out it wasn't going to change.
So let's apply this logic to D'Antoni's tenure.
Under Coach D'Antoni, the Lakers have three separate streaks of at least two consecutive losses. They've lost three in a row entering their December 13th showdown against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
A place where the Knicks are 8-0.
Furthermore, the Lakers have allowed at least 100 points in six of their past seven games. If that's not a sign of their lack of progression, what exactly is?
Furthermore, the Lakers are averaging 102.4 points scored per game. So why is this important?
Under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, the Lakers averaged 104.2 points scored and allowed 91.8 points per game.
In games under Brown and D'Antoni, they're averaging 101.3 points scored and 101.0 points allowed per contest.
The difference between Bickerstaff and the likes of Brown and D'Antoni? Bickerstaff let the players run the style of basketball that they felt most comfortable playing.
All Hope Rests on One Player?
Forgive me for my skepticism, but I'm supposed to buy into the theory that the return of Steve Nash will turn the Los Angeles Lakers from a sub-.500 team to a championship contender? Even if Nash is able to do so, have the Lakers thought about this?
If Nash gets injured during the postseason, the present logic states that the Lakers will be forced to place their title aspirations on hold until 2013-14?
One might be inclined to believe that there is a seemingly irreplaceable player on every postseason contender. The fact of the matter is, if you remove an individual from a true contender, they will still be in the conversation.
Keep in mind, Dwyane Wade and Bosh were the only two confirmed members of the Heat team that was expected to contend even before LeBron signed on.
With the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol as the stars in Los Angeles, there is no logical reason that they are not winning 60 percent of their games. Even still, the excuses are mounting.
If it all rests on one player who has never won a championship, why believe that L.A. has any sense of stability?
You Can't Win with THIS?
Forgive me for repeating myself, but how in the world can the Los Angeles Lakers make excuses for a coach that can't win with Bryant, Howard and Gasol at his disposal? The last time I checked, those are three of the top 25 players in the league.
If you don't agree on Gasol, Bryant and Howard are top-10 talents. Some would even say top five.
Even still, D'Antoni can't make it work.
He may not be a prime candidate, but Bernie Bickerstaff led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 4-1 record by letting them play as they felt comfortable. The organization's response was to bring in yet another coach who preaches schematics.
This team has proven that it can win games. As a result, the Lakers brass have proven unjust in believing that it is acceptable to have a grace period for a coach with a history of losing.
The question is, will Jerry Buss and company give D'Antoni the Mike Brown treatment?