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NBA Coaching Rumors: Days Numbered for Mike D’Antoni?

Stuck in the midst of a hugely disappointing season, the Los Angeles Lakers appear close to cutting ties with coach Mike D’Antoni.

Mike DAntoni
Mike DAntoni

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Mike D’Antoni‘s days with the Los Angeles Lakers may be numbered, according to ESPN NBA insider Stephen A. Smith, who reported Wednesday morning he heard the coach is on his way out.

Apparently, the decision will be made by none other than Kobe Bryant.

The Sporting News reported Wednesday that Bryant does not want D’Antoni to return to the Lakers’ sidelines next season and wants a new coach calling the shots. Per the report, Bryant believes D’Antoni’s presence hurts the team’s attempt to lure Carmelo Anthony to Los Angeles as the two did not enjoy success together during the time with the New York Knicks.

The Lakers are in a position to undergo a complete overhaul of the roster this offseason. Only Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre are under contract for the 2014-15 season. Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, Chris Kaman, Ryan Kelly and MarShon Brooks are set to hit free agency, and while Nick Young holds a player option for $1.2 million, the Los Angeles Times suggests he “will almost surely decline.”

Shedding Gasol’s $19 million salary gives Los Angeles a lot of extra cash to dish out during the offseason, but Bryant reportedly wants his big man back. According to CBS Sports, Bryant is confident Gasol will return to the Lakers. He told TNT sideline reporter Ric Bucher he “envisions” Gasol back, adding that on a scale of 1-10 he has an “eight” level of confidence in a return.

Gasol has previously had qualms with D’Antoni, which means if he returns as coach it may be difficult to convince Gasol to do the same.

With so many contracts coming off the books, the Sporting News reported the Lakers are expected to make a push to sign Anthony to a max-level deal. But who will be coaching the team?

You can count Phil Jackson out, as the Zen Master is primed to take a position in the New York Knicks front office, where he will have to decide how the organization will approach Anthony’s free agency. Apparently, Jackson’s decision to help out the Knicks disappointed Lakers great Magic Johnson.

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