For the remainder of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers will be playing one game every two days.
As of Tuesday, 36 days remained in a season that had seemingly dragged on for three months longer than it should have. Sorry fans, the Lakers should not be expected to fire their coach or make any massive changes over the final 18 games of the season.
If the Lakers wanted to fire the coach before the season ended, the opportunity to do so was presented on the backs of both blowout losses to the Los Angeles Clippers. Losing by nearly 40 points on Jan. 10, the Lakers were 14-23 at that point, and the season was already getting away.
Fast forward two months, and the Clippers hammered the Lakers like no one else ever had before, hanging a franchise worst 48-point loss on the storied franchise. After losing in Denver the following night, the Lakers were 21-42.
The season was gone, but the coach remained.
In their darkest moments, the Lakers opted to stick with Mike D’Antoni. If he survived those embarrassing losses, one would imagine he will make it to Apr. 16, when the Lakers finally put this horrendous season to sleep. Whether or not D’Antoni returns in 2014-15 remains to be seen, but the Lakers will continue to play small ball and showcase D’Antoni’s preferred style of play for the remainder of the season.
That means, the Lakers will shoot early in the shot clock, suffer on the boards, and go long stretches without playing anything that resembles defense.
However, the coach's style of play has also yielded a couple spectacularly improbable wins recently: at Portland and against Oklahoma City. As much as D’Antoni’s style adversely affects bigger players like Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill, it allows athletic guards and forwards like Jodie Meeks and Ryan Kelly to flourish.
From a talent evaluation standpoint, Hill and Kaman are not expected to return to the team next season, but players like Kent Bazemore, Jordan Farmar and Kendall Marshall all have giant question marks hanging over their heads.
Over the final 36 days and 18 games, D’Antoni’s style of play should provide answers to those questions marks, and that is why his job is safe--at least until the summer.