The L.A Lakers, in a surprising move, announced that they have signed previous Phoenix Suns and N.Y Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown as coach.
A league source recounted D’Antoni has a 3-year contract worth $12 million and that the 4th year is a club option.
The contract was signed around 11:30 p.m. PT Sunday night, a source close to the situation expounded and D’Antoni quickly agreed to coach the Lakers after L.A.’s weekend of talks to bring back Phil Jackson broke down.
In an announcement released by the team, Los Angeles Lakers spokesman John Black declared team owner Jerry Buss, executive VP Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak were “unanimous that D’Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time.”
Sources related that Jackson’s triangle offense was seen as a benefit to Bryant and Pau Gasol, but not as conducive to the remainder of the players on the roster — specifically point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard. Another strike against the triangle was the fact that this Lakers team struggled mightily to pick up the similarly complicated Princeton-style offense being instituted by Brown.
A league source suggested that Jackson was “stunned” when the Lakers called to inform him they had chosen D’Antoni. He’d been prepared to accept the job if negotiations between his agent and the Lakers went well.
Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers had not spoken about a salary, the source asserted, “but he knew coaches don’t make what he used to make anymore.” Jackson, the source announced, also never meant to miss any more road games than he had in his previous years with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Phil would come back only to win and skipping games does not lead to winning,” the source recounted.
D’Antoni, who had knee surgery at the beginning of November, hasn’t yet been cleared to travel, according to sources, and “it’ll be a few days before he comes in, but he’s further along than people believe.” There is a possibility that Bickerstaff will remain interim head coach even after D’Antoni’s introductory press conference, according to a source, if D’Antoni isn’t feeling physically ready to coach games just yet.
Part of the current crop of leftovers from Brown’s staff are predicted to be kept by D’Antoni, together with “one or two” new coaches that he’ll bring in with him, according to a source. Two applicants to join D’Antoni are his older brother and longtime assistant, Dan D’Antoni, as well Phil Weber, another longtime assistant.
D’Antoni spent 5 seasons training Nash in Phoenix. Nash won 2 MVP awards while running D’Antoni’s signature up-tempo offense, and they won at least 54 games in each of D’Antoni’s last 4 seasons.
D’Antoni then coached New York for the past 4 seasons, resigning last March after a mostly unsuccessful tenure featuring only 1 playoff appearance and no postseason victories.
Nash and Bryant voiced enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for D’Antoni, although Bryant enthusiastically campaigned for a 3rd stint for Jackson on the Lakers’ bench. Bryant idolized D’Antoni while growing up in Italy, where D’Antoni was a star player in the Italian league. Football betting lines