Clearly, the Los Angeles Lakers need to learn a thing or two about breakups.
It doesn’t appear as if D’Antoni will survive and make it to next season.
The ex-Knicks coach has turned into a polarizing figure during what has been the Lakers’ worst season since arriving in Los Angeles in 1960. So it would be extremely difficult for the Lakers to bring him back. They also are looking to change their style to one that better fits Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, whom they plan on re-signing this summer when he becomes free.
One league source said there is sentiment within the Lakers’ executive offices for a “peaceful, mutual parting’’ with D’Antoni, who has one season left on his contract at $4 million. There’s another season beyond that, but it is at the team’s option.
“They don’t want to fire Mike,’’ the source said.
There's nothing sudden about the Lakers' desire to part ways with D'Antoni. Rumors have been swirling lately, many of them pointing to his departure as a formality.
Most recently, ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin (via Lakers Nation), indicated that the team is prepared to move on without D'Antoni:
According to @mcten’s sources, the Lakers are “leaning towards relieving him of his coaching duties at the end of this season."— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 8, 2014
Not long before that, Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding reported that the Lakers' plan was to keep him for another year, writing that "the club is leaning toward retaining him despite some privately disgruntled players and massive public disdain."
Basically, D'Antoni's employment status has become a dumpster fire, a furibund rumor mill churning out different reports regularly. For all we know, it's unclear if the Lakers actually plan on going through with D'Antoni's dismissal.
But we do know that a completely amicable split isn't likely. D'Antoni won't necessarily leave guns blazing, spewing hot lead in Los Angeles' general direction, but severing ties is never easy or pleasant, even if money changes hands.
Think of this like a non-basketball relationship in which one disgruntled party thinks it can do better. The Lakers are that party, and they want to stay friends. That's not going to happen.
What should the Lakers do with Mike D'Antoni?
This could be D'Antoni's last chance at an NBA head-coaching gig. His offensive system is widely respected, but his defensive inadequacies and absence of championship rings are just as extensively condemned. If he fails with the Lakers, he'll have fizzled out in two of the Association's biggest markets—Los Angeles and New York.
Chances are he won't take kindly to being depicted as a scapegoat for yet another storied franchise trying to justify active struggles.
"It's not for me to decide," D'Antoni told USA Today's Sam Amick of his future in Los Angeles.
It's for the Lakers to decide. If they want him gone, they must show him the door.
Relying on D'Antoni to see himself out only makes way for a nastier divorce.