The Lakers announced Wednesday that Mike D'Antoni has resigned as head coach.
“Given the circumstances, I don’t know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “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.”
D'Antoni is leaving his position even though he was under contract for the 2014-15 season. The Lakers also held a team option for the 2015-16 season. USA Today Sports reported this week that D'Antoni was hoping that the Lakers would pick up that option so that he would not enter next season as a lame duck.
“In order for Mike to have done his job, we felt that having the option year picked up would have changed the narrative,” agent Warren LeGarie told the Los Angeles Times. "They knew that Mike would have been the coach and there would have been a different reaction. It would have been difficult for him to do his job without it.”
Hired in 2012 after the abrupt firing of Mike Brown, D'Antoni compiled a 67-87 (.435) record in two seasons with the Lakers. His turbulent tenure saw the departure of Dwight Howard after one year, two serious injuries to Kobe Bryant, ongoing health concerns for Steve Nash, regular acrimony with Pau Gasol, and a 27-win campaign in 2013-14 that was the Lakers' worst season since the franchise arrived in Los Angeles in 1960.
On the record, Bryant told reporters last 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" in March 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, the 62-year-old D'Antoni has compiled a career record of 452-418 (.520) and twice guided the Suns to the Western Conference finals.
The Lakers finished with the NBA's sixth-worst record and will be sending James Worthy to represent the team at the upcoming NBA draft lottery drawing.