After 10 days of soul searching, the key figures in Lakers management are agreed on bringing back D'Antoni for a third season as coach, a source with knowledge of the deliberations told the Register.
The Lakers have yet to inform D'Antoni of anything, but they intend to keep him, absolving him of blame for the 27-55 finish without Bryant and Steve Nash for 141 of a possible 162 games.
The decision to retain D'Antoni will certainly be an unpopular one with the fanbase, but the question is, how will existing players respond? Pau Gasol, who is a free agent this summer, recently posted on his website that D'Antoni's system isn't his cup of tea.
“I've never concealed the fact that D'Antoni's style doesn't suit my game," Gasol wrote. "I don't know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team.”
However, general manager Mitch Kupchak said recently that Kobe would not be consulted on D'Antoni's future.
"We won't consult with him," Kupchak said. "Our decisions going forward — we're not going to do knee-jerk stuff. We'll let the season end, and take some time. We've got a lot of injuries and surgeries to sort through. That's a lot to accomplish. We have the draft coming up.
The question is what the Lakers' motivation is in bringing back D'Antoni. It's hard to blame him for the miserable 2013-14 season with the injuries the team dealt with, along with the generally bad roster he was having to coach. But do the Lakers want D'Antoni back to coach a contender, or is the intention to have him serve as a lame duck coach as his contract dries up and the Lakers find more cap space?
Here's the truth: D'Antoni can coach. He proved it in Phoenix, and at times, with a generally awful Laker roster, was able to coax some decent basketball out of a bad team. In Laker land though, patience often runs thin and while Kupchak doesn't want to knee-jerk, a slow start to next season and he may not have an option.