Heading into the season without Kobe Bryant, head coach Mike D’Antoni knew the Los Angeles Lakers were in trouble with a young, inexperienced roster that was about to be thrown into the fire against the talent of the Western conference. Yet, 31 games into the season with a record of 13-18, including Bryant out at least another month, it is D’Antoni who may be in trouble.
The Lakers were defeated – at home – by the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night, a team that sits at the bottom of the worst division in basketball. A team that, prior to their game in Los Angeles, had won just one road game.
The Sixers beat the Lakers 111-104 to snap their 13-game road losing streak and send Los Angeles to their fifth straight loss. This comes just two days after the Utah Jazz, owners of the conference’s worst record, beat the Lakers.
Following the disappointing contest, D’Antoni entered a closed-door meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchak, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.
D'Antoni comes out of postgame news conference and into a closed-door meeting in his office with Mitch Kupchak.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) December 30, 2013
This does not necessarily mean D’Antoni is getting the boot, but it is certainly an interesting development. The Lakers are clearly struggling, and injuries haven’t helped.
Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Bryant have all been out an extended period of time. Pau Gasol has missed the last two games with an upper respiratory infection while Xavier Henry left Sunday’s game after straining his knee.
Despite the injuries, however, turning the ball over 22 times while shooting just 37 percent from the field against one of the league’s weakest teams are issues to be concerned about, especially for the one of the most successful franchises in NBA history.
There have been suggestions for the Lakers to tank this season and enter next year with a fresh start, a lottery pick and a healthy Bryant. Yet, the proud superstar has publicly been opposed to the notion.
Even with their flaws, the Lakers are just 4.5 games back of the Dallas Mavericks for the eight seed in the West. A trade to bolster their roster could potentially sneak them into the playoffs, but even with a healthy Bryant, the Lakers do not pose a serious threat in the West.
It seems as though both coach and team are in it together, and as the Lakers fall, so will D’Antoni.