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Lakers Rumors: Sticking with Mike D'Antoni Will Seal LA's Fate

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Lakers Rumors: Sticking with Mike D'Antoni Will Seal LA's Fate
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The Mike D'Antoni era has been nothing short of a disaster for the Los Angeles Lakers, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that the team's management is not considering firing their new head coach.

In a piece by Kevin Ding of OCRegister.com, it seems pretty clear that the Lakers have no intention of getting rid of D'Antoni anytime soon:

There’s plenty of heat and speculation — and plenty for Mike D’Antoni to hash out as far as better utilizing his players, including 2013 free agent Dwight Howard — but I was told Thursday the Lakers are not considering a buyout or firing of D’Antoni as head coach.

Under D'Antoni, the Lakers are an abysmal 12-20 (2-10 in January alone) and currently sit on the outside looking in for the NBA playoffs, trailing the eighth-seed Houston Rockets by four games.

It has been a depressing season thus far, and there's no doubt this team is greatly underachieving with all the superstar power they possess in their starting lineup. The acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash during the offseason should have made the Lakers an elite team in the Western Conference, but the exact opposite has happened.

There has also been dissension in the ranks and the first example of this was Pau Gasol's benching. The Lakers big man voiced his displeasure with the move in an interview with TNT's Craig Sager.

Then the team's star player, Kobe Bryant, voiced the need for some change in the way this team operates, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

We're going to have to change something … probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more," he said. "I am a big history guy. Playing here in this arena with these incredible fans, you're in the house [that] M.J., [Scottie] Pippen, P.J. built. To put this kind of brand of basketball on the floor is just not acceptable.

The part about posting the ball more is a direct shot at the lack of use D'Antoni's system has for the talents of Howard. Even D12 himself has complained about his role, which can be seen in the video below.

Since that loss, things seemed to be getting straightened out, at least internally, as the Lakers players and staff held a meeting to discuss their issues. However, after that meeting, news broke that a few of the players "went at each other a little bit," according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

They held a clear-the-air team meeting before Wednesday morning's shoot-around, with Kobe Bryant very directly asking Dwight Howard if he disliked playing with the long-time Lakers star.

"Guys went at each other a little bit," said a person who witnessed the meeting.

Coach Mike D'Antoni" class="taxInlineTagLink">Mike D'Antoni started it by saying he was tired of reading newspaper stories about players questioning his offense or wanting more touches. Bryant and Howard each fell under that category after the Lakers' lifeless 95-83 loss Monday in Chicago: Bryant said the offense needed to slow down while Howard expressed displeasure after taking only five shots.

D'Antoni then told the team to stop worrying about offense and start playing better defense. The Lakers are fifth in scoring (102.6 points a game) but 26th in defense (101.4 points a game).

So that meeting fixed everything, right?

Wrong. The Lakers would go out that same night and get trounced by the Memphis Grizzlies, 106-93.

To make matters worse, Howard reinjured his shoulder during the game and had the same offensive struggles he's had all season, despite stating that the game against the Grizz was the start of a "new season," per Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

It's funny to see D'Antoni telling his team they need to focus more on defense considering the Lakers coach has never preached it during his time in the NBA. D'Antoni's teams routinely finish near the bottom of the league in defense and this Lakers squad has been no different.

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Defense has been this team's biggest issue thus far in the 2012-13 season. It's one thing to preach defense, but if a coach doesn't know how to run the necessary schemes to get it done, that preaching means nothing.

So far in his career, there's no evidence that D'Antoni knows what he's doing in regards to the defensive end of the floor. If these defensive struggles persist, there's no way this team can compete in the Western Conference now and in the future.

To compound their issues, the Lakers have to worry about their All-Star center flying the coop at season's end. Howard will become a free agent when the summer arrives and if he remains unhappy in D'Antoni's offense and this team keeps losing, there's no question he'll move on to greener pastures.

That will leave Los Angeles with nothing to show for the blockbuster deal they pulled off during the offseason and they will be left with nothing but an aging roster that can't compete in this league.

Clearly if the Lakers have any plans on building this team around Howard, D'Antoni's firing will become a necessity—unless they can turn things around. At this point, that doesn't seem like a realistic scenario for this struggling bunch.

USA TODAY Sports

So, we have multiple stars unhappy, an offense and defense that doesn't work and a pathetic record to show for all of it. Exactly why are the Lakers not considering a firing of their coach?

The problem for the Lakers in firing or buying out D'Antoni's contract is the fact that former head coach, Mike Brown, is still on the team's payroll. Despite the incredibly lucrative franchise they are running over there in Los Angeles, the Lakers management has no desire to pay two fired coaches.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

But is that really a sufficient reason to keep a coach that obviously isn't getting the job done? There's no question this organization has the money to eat D'Antoni's contract, but it appears they have no desire to do so.

So the Lakers have nothing left to do but to keep D'Antoni and see what happens as the season continues to spiral out of control. There have been no positive signs of late for this team during the 2012-13 campaign and the losses keep piling up.

While I'm not ready to buy the fact that the Lakers won't fire D'Antoni if these problems persist, it would be a major mistake not to take the financial hit in order to bring in a coach whose system utilizes this talented roster in a better way.

Nothing is getting better and the Lakers brass has to see that. If D'Antoni remains the coach of this team for the remainder of the season, or even for another full month, it will seal the deal that the Lakers won't be a playoff team this year.

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