Posted November 12, 2012

Lakers hire Mike D’Antoni as coach, passing on Phil Jackson

Ben Golliver, Los Angeles Lakers, Mike D'Antoni, Phil Jackson

Mike D’Antoni, left, will join Steve Nash with the Lakers. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

The Lakers have bypassed Phil Jackson to hire Mike D’Antoni as their next coach, replacing Mike Brown, who was fired on Friday. The team officially confirmed the hire through through a team spokesman early Monday morning.

Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed on Sunday night that the team has signed Mike D’Antoni to a multi-year contract. The team is expected to have a press conference to announce the deal most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday of the coming week.

According to Black, Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, executive vice president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak were unanimous that D’Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time.

The decision to hire D’Antoni was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Phil Jackson was “asking for the moon,” according to a source familiar with the situation. D’Antoni’s Lakers contract is three guaranteed years at $12 million. Fourth year is a team option.

Lakers spokesman John Black: “Dr. [Jerry] Buss, Jim Buss + Mitch [Kupchak] were unanimous that Mike D’Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time.”

The Associated Press confirmed D’Antoni will receive a four-year contract, citing D’Antoni’s agent, Warren LeGarie.

D’Antoni, 61, abruptly resigned as coach of the Knicks in March amid rumors that he didn’t see eye-to-eye with star forward Carmelo Anthony.

The hire comes after two days of rumors indicating the Lakers and Jackson had mutual interest. On Sunday, it was reported that D’Antoni, along with former Blazers coach Nate McMillan and former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, were back-up options if the Lakers couldn’t bring back Jackson, who has won a record 11 NBA titles as a coach, for his third stint coaching the team. Lakers fans at the Staples Center had also advocated for Jackson’s return.

NBA.com reported Monday morning that talks between the Lakers and Jackson broke down over the issue of executive authority.

Phil [Jackson] wanted total control and say over the direction of any franchise he went to, a la [Pat] Riley[in] Miami.

D’Antoni is known for his high-octane approach on offense, dubbed “Seven Seconds or Less” during his time with the Phoenix Suns. He holds a career record of 388-339 (.534) in 10 seasons with the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks, and he guided the Suns to the Western Conference finals in 2005 and 2006. An assistant coach for USA Basketball, D’Antoni coached Lakers guard Steve Nash for four seasons in Phoenix and has a long-standing relationship with Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Until Brown was fired, D’Antoni had kept a relatively quiet profile since his resignation in March.

ESPNLA.com reported that Nash and Bryant approved of both Jackson and D’Antoni.

“Obviously everyone knows how much I love Mike,” Nash said “If he were the coach it would be seamless and terrific for me and for the team as well. These are things that will be decided pretty soon so there’s not much point speculating.”

“They know how I feel about Phil,” Bryant said. “They know how I feel about D’Antoni. I like them both.”

Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday that D’Antoni recently underwent knee replacement surgery. As such, it’s not yet known when he will be available to coach the Lakers.

Lakers assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff was named interim coach when Brown was fired on Friday morning after a 1-4 start. The Lakers are 2-0 under Bickerstaff, with wins over the Warriors on Friday and the Kings on Sunday.

58 comments
WilliamBergmann
WilliamBergmann

Looks like Phil wanted to call all the shots. He may be after Kupchak's job. The Busses know what they are doing, I hope!

Borjo
Borjo

Lakers fans should boycott the game between the Lakers and the Spurs tomorrow,Tuesday, 11/13, to protest about this hiring. How can you pass on a guy who's won 11 championships, Hall of Famer, and a savior for your reeling franchise. This is a disgrace to I thought one of the better franchises in sports. Too bad Jim BussT owns the team ........ Phil is just an employee.

JulesG
JulesG

For the people who think that D'antoni isn't the guy for the job because he doesn't "teach defense" need to understand something. For one, a "defense" first coach was just fired and the Lakers defense still ranked low. Secondly, D'antoni never coached teams with great defenders and was always known to make mediocre offense teams into great offensive teams. So the final piece is that people act like the Lakers, who have some stand out defensive players, who knows that they have to play some defense to be a good team, will just all of a sudden NOT play defense! So Dwight Howard will not try to block shots and MWP's steal average will go down, etc, etc. These are veterans, who needed someone to give them proper guidance on the court....no one needs to teach them defense. They just need to be pushed into playing it harder and what schemes to use! At the end of the day, the best defensive coach out there, who is Thibodeau, has not won a ring as a head coach. It's more than just being a great defensive or offensive coach...it's key substitutions, motivating players and teams, etc. So, with that said, I like MD because he has coached the big names and been successful, despite any negatives people want to put from his resume. He, without a doubt, is a better fit than Mike Brown, and with that, the Lakers have the tools to win with a better person putting those tools into place. That is my 2 cents on this....

RandyEdwards
RandyEdwards

D'Antoni is not a good move by the Lakers because here u are now with a all offensive coach that can't teach defense and u must have defense to win games very important, u see what he did with the Knicks he didn't teach them defense and they was a disaster, not a smart move by the Lakers lets see how long they will put up with this before they be searching for their third coach this year.

DonHole
DonHole

So one of the links that appears on SI articles is: "Report: Jackson inks 3 Year Deal with Lakers"...The link now goes to a dead page...but really is reporting today just throwing a bunch of non-factual stories online and then waiting to see which ones to delete? Pathetic.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

I predicted Jackson would back away - he only wants to coach a team with the talent to ensure a title. Most over rated coach in NBA history.

 

D'Antoni is a terrible hire. As a confirmed Lakers hater I am thrilled with this move. The Lakers will be lucky to get the 8th seed in the West.

chewthedirt
chewthedirt

This guy couldn’t control Melo in NY & look what happened there! Good luck trying to control Kobe, NBA analyst explains the problem http://bit.ly/ZfasmU . Can’t see this working out for the Lakers...

 

Al6
Al6

Phil is too old and cannot move and looks 80. Jackson had his time in LA and ended badly. Remember that. Phil doesn't deserve this team loaded with super stars.

CharlesHarris
CharlesHarris

The Lakers should have hired Jack Nicholson as the interim coach-- all he would have to do is slide over two seats.

Al6
Al6

Jeannie Buss must have found a new toy to play with and cast old Phil aside.

hollywood
hollywood

i bet kobe is wetting his nappies.

Al6
Al6

Isn't Phil 70 years old?? Didn't he used to be in love or using Jeannie as a playmate? MMM?? a woman scorned???

lean6rtj2
lean6rtj2

Hmmm...alway trusted Phil Jackson. If he was asking for executive authority of a team that he spent so much time with already, then you can assume that he thinks the Lakers' front office is part of the problem.

MichaelHenry
MichaelHenry

With D'Antoni as Lakers coach they will loose everything.  No Championship ring and there will be no defense and hell he just got ran off by the New York Knicks.  With that said, and with Jerry Buss son over everything I believe we won't be on top of the game very long cause he is making some dumb ass decisions.  D'Antoni win pct. is only 534 you do the MATH.

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Jim doesn't !

RichardPorter
RichardPorter

 @JulesG If he couldn't handle Carmelo and walked away in NY, then there is no way he is going to be able to handle the Laker starting five. All of which with the exception of Gasol have high class A personalities.  If Jackson wanted the moon you should have given it to him for two years.

TomStrodtbeck
TomStrodtbeck

 @JulesG Well said. I've always thought the can't teach defense label was a bit unfair to D'Antoni. I'm quite sure that a team with Kobe, Howard and World Peace will be able to defend just fine.

 

It's a good choice, his offense will be straightforward to install, Gasol will do well with it, and Kobe likes him (which is no small matter.) That team has a chance to be excellent.

Pares Hilton
Pares Hilton

 @RandyEdwards So, D'Antoni's going to cause Defensive Player of the Year awardees DHoward and MWPeace to have amnesia and forget about defense? Try something smarter to post next time.

Pares Hilton
Pares Hilton

You're not just a Lakers hater. You hate winners.

Phil winning one title with the Bulls in 1991 could be considered a fluke since Magic was on the decline and retired later due to HIV. But to win another title---and another for a three-peat? And to keep the Bulls competitive during Jordan's retirement years? And to win another three-peat with Jordan's return? And to win a three-peat with Shaq and Kobe that coaches before him couldn't do? And to win back-to-back on his 2nd Lakers stint? Wow, I'd love to be overrated like him.

TomStrodtbeck
TomStrodtbeck

 @WilyCoyoteSuperGenius Unfortunatel for you, the Lakers are going to be excellent from this move. And if what you say is true about Jackson, that makes him different than...pretty much no coach in the history of any sport. EVERYONE wants talent. But getting talent and winning with it is no small feat.

 

I suppose I am inclined to the argument that, since he coached the best players of their generation, that's an argument against him as the best coach ever. But still: rings for all 8 fingers, both thumbs, and a big toe is quite the haul, no matter who laces up the shoes.

JulesG
JulesG

 @WilyCoyoteSuperGenius That is not what happened, despite you taking something unrelated to what happened to try and slaw Phil Jackson. He, like most who knew his expectations already, wanted to GM and have team ownership as well as a huge contract, and THAT is why the Lakers chose otherwise. Get your facts straight please. I am not going to knock your opinion of him being overrated, because regardless of what you think, he won 10 rings, will be in the HOF and has coached teams other coaches couldn't win with to championships.....so....have fun with your opinion!

TomStrodtbeck
TomStrodtbeck

 @chewthedirt Sorry, but Kobe has known D'Antoni for years...like, the Italian years. Kobe is not a low maintenance player by any means, but he's no Melo either....not by a long shot. Kobe wants to win. Melo does too...but there not even close.

 

Kobe can operate in an offense, Melo is pretty much the offense he operates in. And Kobe defends. Melo? Errr........

JulesG
JulesG

 @chewthedirt I love the whole concept of having to "control" a player.....So, who has been "controlling" Kobe in 2 wins where Kobe has shot less than 25 shots, and averaged almost a triple double?You talk about these people almost as if they are dogs, and have no sense of self control, and that without a coach, would play to be in control, and not win....

 

What is with people making athletes seem like they are soulless beings who have no mind of their own?? Kobe wants to win....he isn't a young, do it all, Kobe, he is a grown up, do whatever it takes to win...adult....who just needed a coach to put together a good scheme for him and his team to win in! Period, point blank. Who cares what one NBA analyst says? Just like the many NBA analysts who said Coach Spoelstra was not a good coach....or Scott Brooks and look at their success despite what people who analyze thinks....That whole "control" thing just made me sick....like he is a pet or something...ugh!

FloydMacGillicutty
FloydMacGillicutty

 @chewthedirt That had more to do with system than lack of "control"  Melo in an uptempo offense?  MD's best success in NY was when Melo was hurt during Linsanity.

igarcia21
igarcia21

 @chewthedirt There's a pretty big difference between the relationship between Melo and D'Antoni and Kobe and D'Antoni. Kobe has known D'Antoni for a looong time and he approved of his possible hiring.

Having said that, I'm not quite sure how I feel about hiring D'Antoni over PJ. I DO know that Nash needs to be more involved and his past success with D'Antoni is a huge plus.

Pares Hilton
Pares Hilton

 @MichaelHenry Numbers don't lie but they don't tell the whole story. That 0.534 you quoted includes his stint with the Knicks, a team that Phil Jackson himself wouldn't want to coach.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

 @MichaelHenry If you continue to post, please provide decoder rings when doing so.  Thanks.

JulesG
JulesG

 @RichardPorter I am missing your logic here. He coached Nash for years, respected by Kobe, Dwight had issues with one person in his career and they made up....the only person who is an issue is Ron Artest who is and will always be the wildcard for ANY coach. Again, the D'Antoni/Carmelo situation is not indicative of how Mike is as a coach from top to bottom or what kind of player Carmelo was, because both coached or either were coached successfully without each other! So, to already cast doom and gloom on MD because of a past situation is just as silly as believing that Mike Brown could take this team to the Finals because he took a different team there................................and, I want to see what happens before I assume automatically it isn't going to work.

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IF Pau quits playing so damned soft !!

JulesG
JulesG

 @TomStrodtbeck Glad you can think outside of the box a lot of people dwell in! So, because D'antoni is not known as a defensive coach, that just means all defense will stop and the Lakers will lose.... Makes absolutely no sense. But, people are always going to be thinkers and know what's best for everyone else because they read it or believe it.....

FloydMacGillicutty
FloydMacGillicutty

 @MichaelHenry Correction, it's actually .709 if you count Linsanity, when Mike D really got to run his offense while Melo was out.  PJ's career is .704.

JulesG
JulesG

 @RichardPorter  @JoeyBagadoughnutz But that is not how it works man....you can't just say..."oh, because Phil wants it, you can have it"...when Mitch is the one who constructed this current team. Who disrespects the architect who is still doing the job for a coach who wants his job? That makes absolutely no sense and really wasn't why they were interested in Phil...they wanted him to COACH...he wanted more, so they hired a COACH. No more to talk about....

JulesG
JulesG

 @TomStrodtbeck I did too....as far as feeling bad for MB. Great guy, but not a "high profile" coach. He is obviously more of an assistant type of coach, and it showed in Cleveland and in L.A. That is not a knock on him, it's just the truth of the matter, and I am happy he at least was given the opportunity and will at least walk away with some money to spare. I wish him the best...

TomStrodtbeck
TomStrodtbeck

 @JulesG Thanks. This is going to be an excellent season, and a good Lakers team makes it better. They were going nowhere with Brown, and I genuinely feel bad for the guy. I hope this is not his last stop, but they were not buying what he was selling.