Ex-Lakers Coach Not Ruling out Return, Says He’s ‘Too Young’

Mike D'Antoni Lakers

Getty Former Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni isn't ruling out a return as a head coach.

Mike D’Antoni still has that itch to lead an NBA sideline again.

D’Antoni currently serves as an adviser to New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry. However, the 70-year-old recently stated his desire to possibly return as a head coach, via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“Willie’s been great to work with,” D’Antoni said. “We talk and it’s great having a dialogue. He’s doing a phenomenal job. I enjoy it for right now. I try to add what I can. It’s all good. We’ll see. I’m not ruling it out. Too young to rule anything out.”

D’Antoni’s Age May Be Working Against Him

D’Antoni hasn’t been a head coach since he and the Houston Rockets parted ways at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. During the 2020-21 campaign, D’Antoni served as an assistant coach for his former player Steve Nash with the Brooklyn Nets.

It’s no secret that the former two-time NBA Coach of the Year is one of the most accomplished coaches in recent memory. His “seven seconds or less” offense while leading the Phoenix Suns in the 2000’s eventually led to the offensive revolution that has now taken over the league.

D’Antoni has also served as a head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets. However, despite his accomplished resume — D’Antoni’s 672 victories rank 21st all-time — he’s never advanced to an NBA Finals.

The oldest coach in the league is the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich at 72 years of age. In fact, there has been only one other head coach (Hubie Brown) to coach at older than 70 years of age in the NBA.

While D’Antoni may have the desire to lead a sideline again, his age is certainly working against him.

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Frank Vogel on the Hot Seat

The Lakers may not be thinking of bringing back D’Antoni for another run on the sidelines, but their current head coach is certainly on the hot seat.

Frank Vogel — in the midst of his third season with the organization — is coming under criticism due to the team’s slow start to the season. The Lakers are just 12-12 and slotted in the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes Vogel will be gone by the time the All-Star break rolls around in February.

“But these are the Lakers, this is Tinseltown,” said Smith on the December 3 edition of NBA Countdown. “We’re looking at LeBron James, 36 ain’t getting any younger. We’re looking at Russell Westbrook, 32 ain’t getting any younger. We’re looking at Anthony Davis. We’ve got questions about chemistry. We’ve got questions about commitment and dedication. We damn sure got questions about their defense which has been ranked in the bottom-five throughout the season.”

“And if you’re asking me the question, if this continues. Again, that’s the caveat, not right now, but if this continues, Frank Vogel, in my opinion, will not be the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers come All-Star break,” Smith concluded.

Despite a star-studded trio in LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have failed to gain any traction through the first quarter of the season. The team hasn’t won more than three consecutive games and they last accomplished that at the beginning of November.

While the Lakers have yet to show that they’ll even be in the hunt for a championship this season, James still believes in his head coach. Following team practice on Monday, December 6, James came to the defense of Vogel.

“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James said. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor. We’re a team and an organization that don’t mind some adversity, that don’t mind people saying things about us, obviously, because it comes with the territory.”

“We have a lot of guys on this team that have been bulletin-board material for quite a long time, so it don’t quite bother us,” James continued. “Everything that we do stays in house when it comes to our preparation and how we prepare for our next opponent and how we prepare to get better. Frank doesn’t care and we don’t either about what people are saying.”

The only way to stop that chatter is to actually win games. As the Lakers prepare to play five of their next six games against teams with below .500 records, now would be the time.

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