Author: Damian Mendieta
After former Lakers coach Mike Brown was fired after a disgraceful 1-4 start, Lakers’ owner Jim Buss should have moved heaven and earth to bring back Phil Jackson.
Not just because the Zen Master’s return would grant the Lakers another shot in the NBA Finals, but because Jackson’s coaching staff includes former Laker Brian Shaw.
Despite the dire situations that the Lakers notoriously get themselves into, Shaw’s calm demeanor and extensive understanding of the triangle offense could allow him to become the next great NBA coach. It’d be wise to remember that the triangle offense was the main battle plan Jackson used to win 11 NBA titles, a feat no other coach has been able to do.
But Buss did no such thing. Instead, he took another risk at hiring former Knicks and Suns coach Mike D’Antoni. Though D’Antoni is known for establishing fast-paced offenses, that strategy has not won him a title. He almost got to the finals twice in Phoenix, but he fell short in New York as the Knicks were swept in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
Clearly, D’Antoni has the potential to become a good coach soon. However, potential isn’t what the Lakers need to win another title.
L.A. has Steve Nash, arguably the most experienced point guard in the league, and two franchise players.
Though Kobe Bryant is getting up there in years, his experience far outweighs the youth of star center Dwight Howard– for now at least. Bryant has continued to prove his worth as the league’s top scorer, and his job can only get easier with the NBA’s best center under the post.
No matter how much better a coach Jackson would be, L.A. has to accept that D’Antoni is now at the helm.
D’Antoni’s main objective should be to enhance Bryant’s shooting prowess by using Howard and Nash to clear the shooting guard’s path. As of now, Howard has not been the dominant force the Lakers expected.
However, he has been playing along with all-star 7-footer Pau Gasol, who takes a bit of the load Howard carried alone in Orlando. Hopefully Howard will develop into the next great icon of the yellow and purple, but until then it’s Bryant’s job to bring another title to L.A.
It’s too early to start hurling the tomatoes at D’Antoni, but he has not done much with the stars he has in the few games into his contract. If he cannot get the Lakers back to the NBA Finals, the fury of L.A. should not rain down on D’Antoni but on Buss for failing to bring in a phenomenal coach to take the reins.
Brian Shaw should have been hired from the start, ever since Buss let Mike Brown coach the Lakers in 2011. Now that Shaw is locked up to take the top job for the Pacers after being snubbed by Buss, Indiana has a powerful weapon that may hurt the Lakers in the years to come.
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