Well, that was quick!! We knew it was down to Phil Jackson or Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers now have a new coach!
The Los Angeles Lakers, in a wholly unexpected move, announced Monday morning that they signed former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown as head coach.
D’Antoni’s deal is for four years, his agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com late Sunday night several hours after the Lakers beat Sacramento 103-90 for their second straight win under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff. A league source said D’Antoni has a three-year deal worth $12 million with a fourth year as the club option.
The deal was signed around 11:30 p.m. PT Sunday night, a source close to the situation told ESPN.
The Lakers said they plan to hold a press conference most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. In a statement released by the team, 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.”
Sources confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that D’Antoni quickly agreed to coach the Lakers after L.A.’s weekend of negotiations to bring back Phil Jackson broke down.
It had been widely anticipated that the Lakers would be bringing back Jackson after deciding to oust Brown just five games into the regular season, but sources said that the Lakers ultimately couldn’t stomach Jackson’s contract demands to return, which were believed to include a salary ranging from $10 to $15 million annually, significant say in personnel decisions as well as his eventual replacement along with the ability for the 67-year-old to skip selected road games.
Other sources told ESPN that Jackson’s Triangle offense was seen as a benefit to Kobe Bryant andPau 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 that this Lakers team struggled mightily picking up the similarly complicated Princeton-style offense being instituted by Brown.