Mike D’Antoni had one year left on his contract, and the Los Angeles Lakers had an option on holding onto the coach for an addition year.
Per Mike Trudell, the Lakers’ sideline reporter, the newly unemployed coach met with the Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers co-owner and VP of Basketball Operations Jim Buss at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo for a meeting.
D’Antoni and his agent had requested that the Lakers pick up the team option on the coach’s contract, thus avoiding a scenario where the coach entered the final year of his contract and could be perceived as a lame duck coach.
The conversation between the three gentlemen resulted in the coach offering his resignation rather than the Lakers offering guaranteeing an additional year. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported that D’Antoni received an undisclosed portion of the $4 million he was set to earn for the 2014-15 season.
Although this was not officially a firing, D’Antoni taking home a portion of his upcoming contract hints that the resignation may not have been entirely voluntary.
Regardless of the circumstances of the separation, D’Antoni is gone, and the Lakers will begin their search for a replacement.
Immediately, the news was met with widespread cheer from Laker fans who had been begging for a change on the bench. Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who had been outspoken about his dislike of D’Antoni prior to the firing, did not wait long to publicly celebrate.
Happy days are here again! Mike D'Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn't be happier!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 30, 2014
Although fans and former players were constantly irked by the former Lakers’ coach (still sounds foreign to say "former"), several of his players spoke highly of him.
Following the news, free agents Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar spoke to various outlets in support of their time under the coach. Farmar told the OC Register that D’Antoni is “a great guy and a great basketball mind. He didn’t get a fair shot here in LA.”
"Nothing but great things to say about him,” Meeks told ESPN. “Loved playing for him and wish him the best! Would play for him any day."
How the fans, former players, current players and press felt about D’Antoni was inconsequential come Wednesday night, as the man often referred to a "Pringles" was no longer the Lakers’ head coach.
Rumors should flow for the foreseeable future, but the Lakers are not under any immense pressure to name a replacement immediately. The priority is to get it right rather than rush the decision.