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NBA, Smack / Mar 13, 2014 / 12:47 am

Report: Kobe Bryant Doesn’t Want Mike D’Antoni As The Lakers Coach

Mike D'Antoni, Kobe Bryant

Mike D’Antoni, Kobe Bryant (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

We already let you know earlier today rumors were circulating coach Mike D’Antoni wasn’t long for Laker land. Sources informed Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher the Lakers had assured a pair of Lakers D’Antoni was done next season, and Stephen A. Smith said close to the same on ESPN’s “First Take” (thought at a higher decibel level). Now the Sporting News reports that sources are saying Kobe Bryant has “no interest” in playing D’Antoni’s fast-paced style when he returns to the court next season.

First, and we sort of glossed over this part when discussing the earlier rumors, but Kobe has shut it down this year after appearing in only six games. Following his recovery from last season’s late Achilles’ tendon tear and return to the court, he fractured his left tibial plateau and hasn’t played since. After briefly flirting with the idea of a comeback in February following the all-star break, he’s shutting it down. But he’s not keeping to the sidelines when it comes to the Lakers personnel, specifically at coach.

Via The Sporting News’ Sean Deveney:

But multiple sources told Sporting News that the reason for D’Antoni’s potential dismissal is closer to home—star guard Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, sources said, has “no interest” in playing for D’Antoni next season, and wants a new coach in place for the 2014-15 season.

After seeing the Lakers drop to last place in the Western Conference, Bryant elected not to return this season with the threat of possibly further aggravating his knee issues or some other body part. He released a statement explaining his decision to shut it down until the beginning of training camp for the 2014-15 season:

“Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I’ve received from the Lakers and the fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp.”

Stephen A. Smith, as part of his discussion of D’Antoni’s termination after the 2013-14 season concludes, said that Carmelo Anthony was the reason for his ouster. With the exception of Kobe’s new two-year deal that goes into affect starting next season, and the final year of Steve Nash’s three-year deal (who is a likely candidate for the stretch provision), the Lakers don’t have anyone else of merit signed beyond this season.

Smith believes the firing of D’Antoni is in deference to Anthony, who will opt out of his deal with the Knicks this summer to test the free agency market. The Lakers will have a lot of cap room to try and sign ‘Melo this summer, and Anthony and D’Antoni clashed after ‘Melo was traded to the Knicks. Eventually D’Antoni agreed to walk away late in the 2012 season.

But after the Sporting News’ report earlier today, we think D’Antoni is all but gone because of Kobe Bryant’s stance more so than any far-flung possibility they land Anthony, who is still a long shot to leave all that money on the table in New York — especially with Phil Jackson‘s recent sorta, kinda maybe hire (nothing has officially been announced).

Bryant’s feelings on D’Antoni coaching next year are still hearsay, and it’s peculiar considering the admiration both felt for one another once upon a time. Bryant famously grew up idolizing D’Antoni who starred in the Italian League while Bryant was growing up over there as a youngster.

But Bryant’s deteriorating health and age have changed things, and he’s not an ideal fit for D’Antoni’s running style. Mamba is a slow-it-down scorer now, more capable getting buckets in post-up situations and from creating at the elbow on that deadly pull-up. D’Antoni’s offense doesn’t rely on that sort of offensive maneuvering.

Nothing is set in stone, but this report followed so closely on the heels of the reports from earlier today, make it all but gospel D’Antoni will be gone at the end of the year.

UPDATE:

ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin reported these public comments from Bryant about Lakers management and coach D’Antoni, the latter of which don’t specifically ask for his resignation:

“I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” Bryant said. “What kind of culture do we want to have? What kind of system do we want to have? How do we want to play? It starts there and from there, you can start building out your team accordingly.”

[…]

“You got to start with Jim,” Bryant said. “You got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority. And then it goes down to the coaching staff and what Mike (D’Antoni) is going to do, what they’re going to do with Mike and it goes from there. It’s got to start at the top.”

And former Laker great Magic Johnson, who hasn’t shied away from castigating the Lakers publicly and even attempted to step away from Lakers tweets in January, tweeted openly about the team needing a change and a more clear-cut leader. He also reiterated his stance that the Lakers should bring in Phil Jackson:

(The Sporting News; ESPN Los Angeles)

Who will the Lakers hire to coach next season?

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  • SweetdickWilly

    It’s likely too late for the Lakers as far as getting Phil to come back. They fucked that up by hiring Pringles and Phil’s health isn’t fit to handle the dramatic bullshit that happens every second in LA. Everybody’s hurt and trying to come back and Kobe still runs the Lakers. Dwight’s looking more like a genius and is being proved right by bouncing out of there.