Mike D’Antoni (455-426 NBA regular-season record)
If Bird is looking for an offensive coach, Mike D’Antoni seems like a plausible fit. D’Antoni is most known for his stint with the Phoenix Suns, where his teams were always one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA.
Despite some lackluster stints with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, D’Antoni is still held in high regard amongst NBA front offices. He has been linked to numerous open job opening since being fired by the Lakers.
There is no question D’Antoni is a great offensive coach. So many NBA players have benefitted from him because of his coaching style. Most of the times, players overachieve with D’Antoni because of his system.
The Indiana Pacers do not have the greatest roster, so a guy who can potentially maximize the talent on the roster like Frank Vogel is a plus. Also, an excellent scorer like Paul George could potentially be more effective under D’Antoni’s guidance.
One caution about D’Antoni is it has been a while since he has had some success. Since leaving the Suns in 2008, he has only coached a team to a record above .500 twice.
Also, D’Antoni’s style depends on the point guard to be the team’s star player. His most successful seasons were with Steve Nash, a star point guard.
After Phoenix, D’Antoni’s star players were not point guards. He had trouble adapting to Carmelo Anthony in New York, and he had trouble adapting to Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Can D’Antoni be successful with George, a small forward, as his star? Recent history says no.
D’Antoni may not be the best coach available, but he is the one who perfectly aligns with Bird ‘s desire to score more points. This hiring makes some sense, but the Indiana Pacers will have to re-shape their roster in order to make it perfectly work.