Once the exit interviews came to a close for the Los Angeles Lakers, the speculation ran rampant about whether head coach Mike D'Antoni would return for a third season. All signs pointed to a tough decision for the Lakers front office with the fans demanding the firing of D'Antoni and the team reluctant to part ways. Despite the team's reluctance to fire D'Antoni, the head coach made their decision for them by resigning on April 30 according to ESPN's Ramona Shelborne.
Mike D'Antoni has resigned as Lakers coach, source tells ESPN
D'Antoni didn't want to return to the Lakers without any assurance that he'd be retained for the 2015-16 NBA season. D'Antoni had a team option on his deal for the season after next and wanted to keep him on for that season before heading into next season. The head coach felt as if he couldn't coach to the best of his ability without knowing if he'll be around for the fourth year of his deal.
With D'Antoni moving on, the Lakers front office will explore their options heading into the offseason. Although there's no guarantee that the Lakers will be able to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next season, the open head coaching position has already gotten the rumors swirling around the league with plenty of candidates being mentioned.
Among the early candidates are Derek Fisher, Byron Scott, Ettore Messina, Kurt Rambis, Steve Kerr, Lionel Hollins and Jeff Van Gundy. Other candidates include George Karl, Kevin Ollie and John Calipari. Scott may prove to be one of the most compelling options with talk of the three-time NBA champion potentially luring Kyrie Irving to Los Angeles.
With the 2014 NBA draft right around the corner, the Lakers brass will likely take their time and weigh their options for a new head coach. Once the team knows when they'll be drafting after the NBA draft lottery, the search may kick into high gear.