Mike D’Antoni was hired by the Lakers a week ago, and he still hasn’t coached a game. He is still recovering from knee surgery, which the Lakers knew when they hired him. Regardless, it looks bad. The Lakers canned a guy because a problem (coaching) needed to be fixed. Now, the guy who will fix the problem (D’Antoni) can’t show up to do the job. Should the Lakers be worried? The answer is a simple ‘No’.
The Lakers are a great team. They’re going to make the playoffs no matter who their coach is (even Mike Brown). Their season will be judged, however, by how they do in the playoffs instead of whether they reach the playoffs. Because the real test is literally months away, the Lakers can be patient with D’Antoni’s debut. The team just needs enough time to get to know one another and then stay healthy for a playoff run. That’s it.
Much has been made about whether the Lakers should have hired Jackson or D’Antoni. With all his titles, it’s hard to argue against Jackson (unless you just don’t like the guy). Does that make D’Antoni a bad choice? No. Nobody likes his defensive record, but it’s hard to compare defenses. The Suns held the ball for about 2 seconds per possession, which means their opposing teams had maybe 3,000 possessions per game. That’s a strategy and doesn’t necessarily reflect on a team’s defensive effort.
Whether or not D’Antoni does a good job, everything will hinge on whether the Lakers win the NBA crown in 2013. If they win, the hiring of D’Antoni will be praised. If they lose, then they should have hired Jackson. The odds are against D’Antoni because the NBA has some great teams this year and veteran-heavy teams have a way of breaking down over a long season.