In a surprising move, the Los Angeles Lakers announced Monday morning (November 12) that they’ve signed former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown as head coach.
According to ESPN.com, a league source said D’Antoni will get a three-year deal worth $12 million in addition to a club option in the fourth year. He will take over just as the Lakers earn their second straight win (over Sacramento) on Sunday (November 11) under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
“I love [Phil Jackson], but I’m very excited about D’Antoni,” Kobe Bryant told ESPN early Monday.
Sources also told ESPN that Jackson’s triangle offense was seen as a benefit to Bryant and Pau Gasol, but not for 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 to pick up the similarly complicated Princeton-style offense being instituted by Brown.
A league source said Jackson was “stunned” when the Lakers called to inform him they had chosen D’Antoni. He had been prepared to accept the job Monday, if negotiations between his agent and the Lakers went well. But, the Lakers decided to go in a difference direction.
D’Antoni spent five seasons coaching Nash in Phoenix, during which Nash won two MVP awards while running the coach’s signature up-tempo offense, and they won at least 54 games in each of D’Antoni’s last four seasons.
He then coached New York for the past four seasons, resigning last March after a largely unsuccessful tenure, which featured just one playoff appearance and no postseason victories.
“Obviously I think everyone knows how much I love Mike,” Nash said Sunday night prior to the hiring. “If (D’Antoni) were to coach, it would be seamless and terrific for me, and I think the team as well.”