By Royce Young cbssportsline.com
The Lakers have their new coach and it's not Phil Jackson.
The Lakers announced late Sunday night that they have come to terms with Mike D'Antoni on a four-year deal.
With all signs pointing towards a Jackson return, reportedly the 11-time NBA champion coach was just asking for too much. Jackson's health issues have been well documented and according to numerous reports, Jackson was hoping to arrange a special travel schedule to accomodate him. He also was said to be wanting control over the team and a hand in basketball decisions.
According to the report, Jackson was "asking for the moon."
By that account, it sounds like it's not Jackson who turned the Lakers down, but the Lakers who turned Jackson down. Which is a very interesting twist.
So the Lakers turned to their next choice, D'Antoni, who has a good relationship with Steve Nash and is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in the game. With the Lakers working to fit in new pieces, D'Antoni is likely seen as a coach that can maximize the offensive talents the team has on the floor.
D'Antoni, 61, reportedly interviewed with the team on Saturday by phone. The only other apparent serious candidate other than Jackson was said to be Mike Dunleavy.
There is some complication as D'Antoni is recovering from knee replacement surgery and isn't expected to be on his feet until December.
How does D'Antoni fit? Here's what Zach Harper of CBSSports.com wrote:
The Lakers weren't a bad offensive team to start the season, so it's easy to say D'Antoni isn't going to fix that. You also need more than a couple of practices to get D'Antoni's system implemented, although Nash's presence can certainly help direct traffic and explain where guys need to be. It might not take as long as it would with an unfamiliar point guard.
Aside from D'Antoni being a very good coach, I'm for the Lakers pursuing him because it would give them an identity their star players can embody. An identity has been missing so far this season. Not sure how many other available coaches can instill that right away.
What the Lakers tried to do under former coach Mike Brown was install an offense based around off-ball movement and cutting, when the strength of the team was seen in the pick-and-roll game. Something of course that's a strength of D'Antoni's system.
D'Antoni also has a solid relationship with Kobe Bryant, having coached him on Team USA the past six years. He most recently coached the New York Knicks but resigned in March last season over reported issues with star forward Carmelo Anthony.
Prior to New York, D'Antoni coached the Phoenix Suns, famously building the "Seven Seconds Or Less" offense that was one of the most prolific in NBA history, taking the Suns to Western Conference finals appearances in 2005 and 2006. His career record in 10 seasons (Nuggets, Suns and Knicks) is 388-339.
The Lakers fired Mike Brown on Friday, just five games into the season after the team started 1-4. Under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, the team has gone 2-0.