Despite rumors of Phil Jackson returning to the Los Angeles Lakers with hefty incentives on the table, Mike D’Antoni will takeover as the next head coach of a much scrutinized Lakers’ ball club. Per Mike Bresnanhan, Jackson was “asking for the moon” in terms of incentives which was part of the Lakers’ decision to look a different way.
According to a report on CBS Sports, Jackson was “stunned” about the Lakers decision to hire D’Antoni over the Zen Master himself, who is an 11-time NBA champion, to boot. Per the same report, Jackson felt as if “it was his job to turn down.” Instead, the Lakers rejected him because they felt as if D’Antoni is a better fit for their current offensive scheme.
With the amount of road games that Jackson would presumably miss due to his old age, the Lakers felt like skipping several games wouldn’t lead to wins. Plus, a part of those lofty incentives was a substantial amount of control over his travel schedule. Although, before hiring D’Antoni, some sources worried about D’Antoni’s “lack of defensive principles.” That statement is true, as he has always been known as a run-and-gun type coach.
According to Bresnahan, D’Antoni’s deal is worth $12 million over three years, and the deal also includes an option for the fourth year. So barring any dramatic changes, D’Antoni should be at the helm of the Lakers for a few years. Of course, we can’t rule out anything at this point given the recent string of events.
D’Antoni coached the shelved Steve Nash with the Suns for four years, and had a very successful stint, making the playoffs in all four years with Nash. Before Nash arrived in 2004-2005, however, the Suns and D’Antoni missed the playoffs by a wide margin the year before. So that shows the liaison between Nash and D’Antoni, which the Lakers hope will continue tin Los Angeles when Nash returns from injury.
After his five year stint in Phoenix, D’Antoni coach the New York Knicks for four seasons where he posted a dreadful 121-167 record. He coached just 42 games last year before resigning, as the disastrous Knicks became too hard to handle, especially with rumors floating around that Carmelo Anthony practically forced him out of his job.
For D’Antoni, though, he joins a Lakers squad that has been under the hot seat since Day 1 of training camp, and that will certainly not change. Despite a star studded cast of characters, the Lakers started the season by winning just one of their first five games, but have won two straight games to boost their record to 3-4.
D’Antoni won’t have much time to ease into his position, having just recently underwent knee replacement surgery. Until he is fully cleared by his doctors, interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff will handle most of the head coaching duties. But once D’Antoni is ready to go, he cannot afford to lose the respect of the fans and players right off the bat like Mike Brown did.