NBA: Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni resigns
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni resigned Wednesday after less than two seasons on the job.
Team spokesman John Black confirmed D’Antoni’s resignation, ending the brief tenure of the Lakers’ fourth head coach in less than three years.
D’Antoni went 67-87 after taking over the Lakers early in the 2012-13 season. He replaced the fired Mike Brown, who lasted just 71 games after replacing 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson in 2011.
The injury-plagued Lakers were 27-55 this season, their worst campaign in more than 50 years and the second-worst winning percentage in franchise history.
With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol sitting out large chunks of the season while the Lakers lost an NBA-worst 319 man-games to injuries, the 16-time NBA champion franchise missed the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons and only the third time in 38 years.
“Given the circumstances, I don’t know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “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.”
The 62-year-old D’Antoni had one year left on his contract, but wanted the Lakers to pick up his option year for 2015-16 to have any chance of success. The Lakers apparently refused, leading to D’Antoni’s resignation.
D’Antoni walked away from a $4 million payday for next season, although he may receive a portion of that money as severance.
A phone message left for D’Antoni wasn’t immediately returned.
Despite the Lakers’ injuries on a roster consisting mostly of players on one-year contracts, Los Angeles fans largely directed their anger during a rare down season toward D’Antoni. Lakers great Magic Johnson, who was sharply critical of D’Antoni’s coaching style, hailed the news on his Twitter account.
“Happy days are here again!” Johnson tweeted. “Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!”
D’Antoni also has coached the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks. He reached two Western Conference finals with Nash in Phoenix before having much less success in New York.