ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein are reporting that the Los Angeles Lakers have settled on Mike D'Antoni as the team's replacement for Mike Brown. This move is surprising for a few reasons, first among them the fact that D'Antoni is still recovering from knee surgery, and as recently as last week he was reportedly unable to travel. The second reason: According to Adande, D'Antoni was selected in favor of coaching legend Phil Jackson, who was prepared to return to the Lakers:
A league source indicated late Sunday night that 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. Jackson's agent Todd Musberger had been scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Monday.
Jackson and the Lakers had never spoken about a salary, the source said, "but he knew coaches don't make what he used to make anymore." Jackson, the source said, also never intended to miss any more road games than he had in his previous years with the Lakers.
As weird as it is for a team to pass on rehiring one of the greatest coaches in history, this is probably the right move for the Lakers. Jackson's triangle offense doesn't really have any use for a great center or point guard, and the Lakers' title hopes truly rest in the hands of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, a pair that will thrive in D'Antoni's seven-seconds-or-less offense.
For his part, Kobe Bryant seems OK with the deal so far, telling Adande, "I love PJ but I'm very excited about D'Antoni." (We'll see how long that lasts.) While they're raiding the golden era of the Phoenix Suns, maybe the Lakers should look into hiring away the Suns' old training staff, too. Their top three players are: a million years old and gimpy, a million years old and nursing a broken leg, and a giant in his prime with Rick Mahorn's back.
Lakers hire Mike D'Antoni [ESPN]