Mike Brown was fired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Friday morning, and the two most prominent names that have been linked with the newly vacated coaching post are Jerry Sloan and Mike D’Antoni.
Both coaches have reasons they fit well with this team. Here’s a closer look at each potential coach.
Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy idolizing D’Antoni, the player. Also, D’Antoni worked with both Kobe and Dwight Howard as an assistant coach of team USA. D’Antoni was an assistant on the 2006 FIBA World Championships team that featured Dwight Howard, and he was an assistant on the 2012 London Olympics team that featured Kobe Bryant.
Further, D’Antoni has history with Steve Nash as head coach of the Phoenix Suns. D’Antoni’s system put the ball in Nash’s hands and, effectively, helped the new Lakers’ point guard to two MVPs.
Local news from across Southern California
The downside to this selection is that D’Antoni’s teams never really played defense. Yes, the Lakers need to take advantage of all the offensive talents on the court, but this team also has some defensive weapons. D’Antoni’s lack of defensive focus was a recipe for regular season success and post-season peril. None of his Suns teams went deep into the playoffs. Also, Steve Nash proved he could still run the offense after D’Antoni left Phoenix.
Nevertheless, as of now, D’Antoni is the leading candidate to take over for the recently fired Mike Brown.
Jerry Sloan was head coach of the Utah Jazz for over 20 years. His use of pick and roll created the legendary Stockton to Malone combination. He led his Utah teams to two NBA Finals. With well over 1,000 career wins as a coach, Sloan has an experienced resume to offer Lakers management and players.
Sloan is a disciplinarian, and his Utah teams always played hard on both ends of the floor. His coaching style prefers fouls over allowing easy baskets. Jerry Sloan’s record in Utah demands the respect of the players, and his pick and roll offense can be highly effective with Nash combining with Howard and Gasol. Sloan provides the Lakers a significantly different look to what D’Antoni offers.
If the Lakers are looking for flash, Mike D’Antoni is the man for the job. However, if the Lakers want a championship, Jerry Sloan may be a better fit. Regardless, both men are significant improvements on Mike Brown.