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Lakers in transition

It's early season struggles and coaching change aside, the team still has talent. Let's give it some time, L.A.

November 15, 2012
  • Mike D'Antoni, who previously coached the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks, has signed a $12-million contract to coach the Lakers.
Mike D'Antoni, who previously coached the Phoenix Suns and the New… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)

There's been more drama off the Lakers' basketball court than on it in the two weeks since the season got off to a dismal start. After 10 days and five games (four of them losses), Coach Mike Brown was gone — setting a record for the fastest disappearance of a Lakers coach in the history of the franchise. Within a weekend, team officials were courting legendary former Coach Phil Jackson at his house, and fans in the stands were chanting "We want Phil!" Then, within hours of talking to Jackson, they were chatting up the respected veteran Mike D'Antoni, who previously coached the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks. The next day, they were faxing D'Antoni a $12-million contract, and soon after, Jackson, departing from his Zen master persona, was grumpily nursing his hurt ego in public.

All of this has been giddily exciting. But it's time for everyone — fans, Lakers management, players — to take a breath and work on that virtue that seems to evade us all when we talk about the team: patience.

It's true that all the money the team has made from lucrative cable TV deals — the money that made the organization flush enough to acquire All-Stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash during the off-season — will not, magically, make it coalesce into a winning force. The early games have indeed been rocky. That said, there's every reason to have high hopes for a better, even spectacular, season. The Lakers currently have a roster of enormously talented players — a few of them injured, but not irreparably.

Let's not squander that resource. Fans should get over their Jackson fixation. And they should give D'Antoni, a wizard at designing an offense and a genial coach, a chance to meld his strategy with this team's skills and build on his past work with Nash and Kobe Bryant. (And, hey, he and Bryant both speak Italian!)

Let's allow D'Antoni to keep his job for at least one or two lunar cycles so that the coach and the team can figure out how best to play together.

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