Mike D’Antoni plans to continue having discussions with the Lakers on Thursday, including whether he will coach for the 2014-15 season, according to a league source familiar with the situation.
D’Antoni currently plans to speak with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Thursday over the phone, as opposed to in person. This newspaper also learned that D’Antoni also had preliminary talk with Kupchak late Wednesday afternoon.
For the past month, the Lakers have leaned toward retaining D’Antoni despite overseeing the Lakers finish with a 25-57 record, the NBA’s sixth worst record and the franchise’s worst record since moving to Los Angeles 54 years ago. The Lakers were mindful of a few variables. The Lakers missed a combined 319 games due to injuries, most notably to Kobe Bryant (left Achilles tendon, left knee) and Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back). The Lakers’ roster featured a flurry of role players both on one-year contracts and unaccustomed toward logging such significant playing time. The Lakers also had no interest in paying D’Antoni a guaranteed $4 million without coaching, and they were mindful that a firing could create more instability after having four head coaches within the past five seasons.
As part of the discussions surrounding his coaching future, D’Antoni has hoped to receive assurances the Lakers will exercise his team option that would ensure he would also coach the Lakers for the 2015-16 season. The Lakers have refused to provide such assurances because they want to see how the 2014-15 season turns out before making any evaluations.
But D’Antoni still addressed the issue with the Lakers, according to league sources. D’Antoni had concerns about having a so-called “lame duck” status next season and hoped to have a better roster that could help him succeed better than the 67-87 record he has compiled through two seasons. D’Antoni has one guaranteed season left on his contract worth $4 million. The Lakers then hold a $4 million team option for the 2015-16 campaign.