So apparently NBA fans aren’t the only ones shocked that the Lakers chose Mike D’Antoni to be their new head coach.
Phil Jackson was prepared to return to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday morning if negotiations between his agent and the team went well, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com late Sunday night.
When the Lakers called to tell Jackson that they had instead chosen Mike D’Antoni to be their next head coach, he was “stunned,” according to the source, because he had been under the impression “it was his job to turn down” although no formal offer had ever been made.
Instead, the Lakers went with D’Antoni, believing he was a better fit for their current roster, sources told ESPN.
Jackson’s triangle offense was seen as a benefit toKobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, but not as conducive to the rest of the players on the roster — namely point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard.
Another strike against the triangle was the fact this Lakers team struggled mightily picking up the similarly complicated Princeton-style offense being instituted by Brown.
Lakers spokesperson John Black said team owner 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.”
They apparently reached that unanimous decision very quickly late Sunday night as negotiations with D’Antoni did not begin until after the Lakers win over the Sacramento Kings, sources said.
Before that, fans had been chanting for Jackson’s return and there had been quiet optimism among Laker insiders that it was just a matter of time before Jackson was back on the sidelines.
Jackson’s agent was even scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Monday to begin negotiating a deal, a source said.