Tuesday night's game between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers is a matchup of two franchises connected in more ways than one. They are both big-market teams suffering through dismal, disappointing campaigns. Former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson recently took a job in New York as president of basketball operations. And both teams employ a maligned head coach in New York's Mike Woodson and Los Angeles' Mike D'Antoni.
For these two coaches, who worked on the same staff for the 2011-12 Knicks, the question isn't if they will be fired, but when. And Lakers center Chris Kaman didn't help D'Antoni's case when he claimed that the coach hadn't spoken to him in weeks, per the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina:
Chris Kaman said he hasn't talked to Mike D'Antoni in the past 3 weeks. Only found out he's starting tonight by lineups— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 26, 2014
This is yet another chapter in the ongoing mystery of Kaman's vanishing minutes. The big man hasn't played since Feb. 28. He did not return to the Lakers bench after halftime of a 125-109 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on March 19, leading fans to question what exactly was going on with the 10-year vet.
After the March 19 game, it was learned that Kaman was dealing with a sore foot, per Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
D'Antoni said Chris Kaman has a sore foot (his reason for why Kaman wasn't on the bench second half)— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 20, 2014
D'Antoni had been giving Kaman's minutes to 24-year-old big man Robert Sacre. Considering their position near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the move made sense to Lakers Nation's Nick Barbarino:
With the Lakers no longer in playoff contention, D’Antoni is giving the younger players a chance to audition their abilities for next season while inadvertently helping the team position themselves for a better draft pick come June.
But that doesn't explain the complete lack of communication between the coach and his player. This isn't like the NFL, where a coach has 53 players on the roster to deal with. An NBA coach only has 15 guys, so you would think he could make time to speak to all of them in due course.
Kaman has been around the league for a decade, and while his experience shouldn't guarantee regular minutes, it should at least earn him an explanation.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Kaman considers this the most trying season of his career, per Medina:
Chris Kaman said this has been his hardest NBA season "by far." He then added, "ten fold."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 26, 2014
As for D'Antoni, he no longer seems to care about fostering relationships within the clubhouse. This is not the behavior of a man who expects to keep his job next season.
Clearly, D'Antoni doesn't believe he will coach the Lakers next season. And there's very little reason to believe the team is interested in bringing him back.
For those Lakers fans who are sick of the D'Antoni era, there are only 12 more games after Tuesday.