Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni has not been a fan favorite since day one on the job, as his entire tenure has been surrounded by the fans' desire to get former coach Phil Jackson.
News began to spread Tuesday afternoon that former Lakers coach Mike Brown was nearing an agreement to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers on a five-year deal.
This bit of news drew interest for a couple reasons.
First, Brown was coach of the Cavaliers until they decided to fire him ahead of LeBron James’ decision to take his talents to South Beach. That little tidbit may have been interesting, but it had no direct bearing on the Lakers.
Pertaining to the Lakers, Brown’s rumored five-year $25 million deal with the Cavaliers pointed to the Lakers being relieved of significant, if not all, financial liability on Brown’s buyout with Los Angeles.
As a result, the Lakers will likely now only be paying for one coach: Mike D’Antoni.
Earlier this season, D’Antoni signed a $12 milion contract for three years with the team holding an option on the fourth year. With the Lakers still owing Brown $6 million to $7 million, the Lakers suddenly have a good amount of cash on hand should they decide to make another coaching change.
Pretending there is no family drama involving Jim Buss, Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson, the Lakers could theoretically bring back Jackson with the money that suddenly appeared via Brown’s agreement with the Cavaliers.
Keeping in mind that a significant percentage of Brown’s remaining buyout disappears and Jackson is rumored to cost about $10 million per season, the Lakers would be wise to at least consider bringing in the 11-time NBA champion and effectively paying half price for his services.
Well, first of all, re-signing Dwight Howard is the Lakers’ top priority during this off season. Although the Lakers can offer Howard a bigger and longer contract than any other team, Howard has jokingly referred to D’Antoni as “Coach Pringles” and occasionally clashed with D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy.
Also, Jackson has publicly made comments that D’Antoni’s offensive system is not best suited for Howard, and Howard acknowledged texting Jackson back and forth during this season. Further, Howard has previously stated that he would like to play under Jackson.
With the gamble on Steve Nash and D’Antoni reuniting not working out as expected, getting rid of D’Antoni would be a widely welcomed move in the eyes of the fan base.
As an added bonus, Jim Buss and the Lakers can all but guarantee Howard’s return to the team if they give Jackson a one year contract. For the remainder of Howard’s long-term deal, they can bring back D’Antoni or hire any other coach that fits their long-term vision. For one year, Buss should consider biting his tongue to keep Howard in Los Angeles.
If the Lakers truly want Howard to be the centerpiece of the Lakers’ franchise for the long-term future, axing D’Antoni and bringing in Jackson would be safe bet. Of course, Jackson has to be willing to take the job.