Reports: Marshall eyes Lakers' Mike D'Antoni to fill coaching vacancy
Marshall University is eyeing Lakers coach D'Antoni for their open head coaching job, according to multiple reports.
An ESPN.com report indicated that Marshall has "reached out" to D'Antoni, who is an alumni of the Conference-USA school.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Thundering Herd have pursued D'Antoni before and made this latest inquiry -- which coincides with his uncertain future in Los Angeles -- because they "always sound him out" any time Marshall has an opening in a bow to D'Antoni's stature in school history.
But sources stressed D'Antoni is highly unlikely to make such a switch even if the Lakers opt for a coaching change at season's end.
CBSSports.com confirmed that Marshall, which is located in West Virginia, has targeted D'Antoni, adding that he may have interest in the position.
"I would think his days are numbered based on Kobe [Bryant] saying he had no interest in playing for him next year," a source told CBSSports.com. "If he isn't with the Lakers, I believe he will be at Marshall because there is mutual interest."
Marshall fired former coach Tom Herrion earlier this month. The 46-year-old Herrion compiled a 67-67 record in his four seasons at Marshall.
D'Antoni was hired by the Lakers in 2012 following the abrupt dismissal of Mike Brown, and he signed a four-year contract that includes a team option on the final season. He hasn’t had the roster he expected when he was hired, thanks to Dwight Howard’s departure for Houston, ongoing, career-threatening injuries to Steve Nash, and Achilles and knee injuries for Kobe Bryant.
Rumors have begun swirling around D'Antoni's future, given L.A.'s dismal season. The Lakers lost to the Bucks on Thursday to fall to 24-47 and are headed to the draft lottery for just the second time since 1995. An ESPN television personality reported recently that D’Antoni could be out after this season, while the Sporting News reported that Bryant would welcome a coaching change, citing sources.
On the record, Bryant told reporters earlier this month that the Lakers' next chapter must be written by the organization's management.
“We have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team, what kind of culture do we want to have, what kind of system do we want to have, how do we want to play,” Bryant said. “And it starts there, and then from there, you can start building out your team accordingly. … You have to start with Jim and Jeanie [Buss], and how that relationship plays out. It starts with having a clear direction and clear authority. Then it goes down to the coaching staff, what Mike is going to do, what they want to do with Mike and it goes from there. It’s gotta start from the top.”
When asked by "The Dan Patrick Show" last week whether D'Antoni had "earned another year," Bryant was noncommittal.
"I don't know," Bryant said. "It's been tough on him. These two years he's been there, he's been dealing with so many injuries left and right. He hasn't really gotten a fair deal, a fair shake at it since he's been here."
In 12 seasons as an NBA head coach, D'Antoni has compiled a career record of 452-418 (.520) and twice guided the Suns to the Western Conference finals. He holds a 64-79 (.448) record with the Lakers. D'Antoni, 62, went to high school in Mullens, West Virginia, before attending Marshall, where he played from 1970-73. He was then selected in the second round of the '73 draft pick and went on to play in the NBA, ABA and in Italy before beginning his coaching career in 1990. D'Antoni, who is best known for his fast-paced "Seven Seconds Or Less" offense, has never coached at the collegiate level.