Sports Out West

Lakers news: Mike D’Antoni exploring Nate McMillan as defensive assistant

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking at bringing in a high-level assistant to head up the defense in order to help head coach Mike D’Antoni, and former NBA player and coach Nate McMillan is at the top of their wish list, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports

It will be a hard sell to get McMillan to join the staff, however, because he is thought to be in line for one of many head coaching vacancies throughout the NBA this summer. Among those targeting him are the Charlotte Bobcats and executive Michael Jordan, who appear posed to make a run for his services. If the Lakers can’t land him, then former Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry is said to be among the potential candidates. 

McMillan and D’Antoni were on the staff together with the Team USA basketball program. 

In 2012-13, the Lakers had a disastrous season, but it was on defense where they were particularly bad. D’Antoni took a lot of the blame when things went awry on that end of the floor, but to be fair, it’s the team personnel, not any system or lack thereof that caused the Lakers to struggle. L.A. has aging stars Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace as its primary perimeter defenders, and their effectiveness has to be in question heading into next season. More than anything, they’ll need to communicate outsmart teams on that end of the floor. 

That’s what a coach with a focused plan can help to do, and it’s what they need most. During the regular season, they were 22nd in the league in opponents’ points per game with 101.0. Their defensive rating was 20th with a 106.6 mark. That statistic measures the amount of points they gave up per 100 possessions. 

Again, D’Antoni doesn’t deserve all the blame for these dismal number, but the right assistant could help turn things around in a hurry. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.