The Mike D'Antoni era in Los Angeles has come to an unceremonious end - the Lakers announced his resignation Wednesday afternoon, weeks after he led the team to a franchise-worst 55 losses. Now, Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss and the rest of Lakers management is tasked with finding a successor.
While things will become much clearer in the coming weeks, here are the top five candidates for the job, as of April 30th:
5. Lionel Hollins
Hollins was axed after leading the Grizzlies to the 2013 Western Conference Finals, reportedly due to a clash with management. His resume is excellent, but his defense-first, grind-it-out style may not be the return to 'Showtime' Mitch Kupchak wants.
4. Jeff Van Gundy
Currently working as a color commentator for ESPN, the smaller Van Gundy brother hasn't coached since 2007. He's reportedly open to returning to the bench, though, and could be an interesting wild card in LA's coaching search.
3. George Karl
George Karl was fired after Denver's first-round exit in the 2013 playoffs, and it's easy to forget that before the Nuggets lost to the Warriors, he had just been named the league's Coach of the Year. He led Denver to a 423-257 record during his time in charge, and the Nuggets never missed the playoffs during his tenure.
2. Stan Van Gundy
SVG already has one thing in common with Lakers fans - both have been sold out, then hung out to dry by Dwight Howard. Past conflicts aside, Stan Van Gundy has been on the Lakers' radar for some time, and was mentioned in connection with the job when D'Antoni found himself under pressure earlier this year.
1. John Calipari
Calipari is entering his fifth year with Kentucky, and something like his tenth of being linked with every available NBA job. His unimpressive stint with the Nets is ancient history, and in the years since he's grown into one of the most respected coaches in the game. The Lakers and Calipari reportedly have some mutual interest, and analyst Rex Chapman tweeted that Cal to the Lakers was a 'done deal' in early April. Calipari denied the rumors - understandable, considering that his team was about to play for the NCAA title and LA still had a coach. Now that the equation has changed, though...keep your eye on Calipari over the coming weeks.
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