Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni announced that after two seasons with team, he will be resigning from his position.
According to reports, D’Antoni had already been under contract to serve as head coach next year, but when he tried to ask the Lakers to pick up the option to guarantee him the 2015-2016 season, they declined.
“In order for Mike to have done his job, we felt that having the option year picked up would have changed the narrative,” said D’Antoni’s agent Warren LeGarie, according to the Los Angeles Times. “They knew that Mike would have been the coach and there would have been a different reaction. It would have been difficult for him to do his job without it. It was an impossible decision for Mike. He loved the guys on the team, the young guys. He clearly felt he had impacted their development and they had a real good buy-in on this. But clearly there wasn’t enough there to get us past some of the issues.”
Despite obvious differences in vision that ultimately led to D’Antoni’s resignation, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak released a statement thanking D’Antoni for his work.
“Given the circumstances, I don’t know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons,” said Kupchak. “On behalf of the Lakers, we thank Mike for the work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude that he brought to the team every day. We wish him the best of luck.”
Not everybody was so gracious, however. Magic Johnson, a former Lakers player and former team owner, has been outspoken critic of D’Antoni’s since he came on during the 2012-2013 season, so when D’Antoni announced his resignation, Johnson was, as expected, pretty happy about it.
“Happy days are here again!” Johnson tweeted. “Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!”
The Lakers haven’t announced who they would like to replace D’Antoni, but USA Today speculates that included on the shortlist could potentially be former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, former Lakers assistant Ettore Messina, and former Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets coach Byron Scott.
Reports claim that even though D’Antoni signed a $4 million contract for next season, he wanted to be guaranteed the following season and avoid “lame-duck status.” D’Antoni, 62, has spent 12 seasons as a head coach in the NBA, formerly working for the New York Knicks as well as the Phoenix Suns.