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Phil Jackson out of picture, Mike D’Antoni signs to be Lakers new coach

Nov 12, 2012, 3:47 AM EDT

Mike D'Antoni

At Staples Center Sunday night, it felt around the Lakers and their fans that anyone not named Phil Jackson as the next coach was going to be the consolation prize.

If so, this is a pretty darn good one.

Mike D’Antoni has signed a contract and has been announced as the Lakers new coach with a press conference in the next couple of days, a story first broken by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times and now confirmed by the Lakers themselves. He takes over for Mike Brown, who lasted just five games into this season (1-4 record).

D’Antoni and the Lakers have agreed to a three-year deal for $12 million. Those three years is  coincidentally is how long Steve Nash‘s contract is for (or, maybe not so coincidentally).

When D’Antoni takes over the team remains a question — he had knee replacement surgery three weeks ago and is not terribly mobile yet. It is expected Bernie Bickerstaff will remain as interim coach through Tuesday when the Lakers play the Spurs, which would give D’Antoni a couple of practices before a first game as coach. Against the Suns, Friday at Staples Center. (Don’t be shocked if Bickerstaff coached that one, too.)

There is a lot of spin as to why things didn’t work out with Phil Jackson. Some sources say he was asking for too much money, too much latitude with time off to make the team comfortable, and he wanted a year-to-year deal while the team wanted more stability — Jim Buss (who runs the team for his father Jerry) turned to D’Antoni.

Both the Lakers and Jackson’s people have denied this is a money issue and have said they had not even started serious negotiations yet. The Lakers are saying this is purely a basketball decision.

Which is not going to sit well with Lakers fans.

Buss made the call Sunday and Kupchak called Jackson to let the Lakers know of franchise’s decision (it was expected Jackson was going to take the job Monday but negotiations were ongoing).

This is not going to be loved by Lakers fans, who had chanted “we want Phil” during the Lakers win over the Kings Sunday. The fan base seemed to have their hearts set on Jackson, while D’Antoni does not have rings or a reputation as a defensive guru.

D’Antoni is a 10-year head coach in the NBA who, combined with current Lakers point guard Steve Nash, ran one of the most potent offenses the NBA had ever seen with his “seven seconds or less” system. In New York with the Knicks he tried to implement that same system but the roster never really fit it, particularly once Carmelo Anthony arrived and was a ball stopper on the wing. Plus, the Knicks never defended for him (at least before Mike Woodson arrived).

The Lakers roster is older, slower and D’Antoni is going to have to modify his system some to make it work. But he has Nash and a potentially devastating pick-and-roll partner in Dwight Howard. Plus there is Kobe Bryant, who is a big fan of D’Antoni (remember Kobe lived in Italy in his youth when D’Antoni was the biggest star in the Italian league).

Kobe said after the Lakers game Sunday he had told management he would be happy with D’Antoni, and reaffirmed that later to the media.

He better, D’Antoni is the Lakers coach now no matter what Kobe thinks.

  1. eureca323 - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    Not a horrible move if there is a defensive assistant coach in charge of the defense like a Kurt Rambis. Obviously he isn’t Phil and never will be so of course that is a let down in it self.

    • mjbulls45 - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:40 AM


      its an AWFUL MOVE , dantoni always chokes,

      phil has got everything they needed,

      BUSS WILL REGRET THIS , never again , jordan 6 rings,

      kobe will always be #2,

      this selfish move by the lakers to not give up power to the greatest NBA coach of all time is RIDICULOUS.

      NEW ERA – lakers are dead.

  2. thekingdave - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    That’s pretty cool how you removed your little snarky shot at D’Antoni’s prospects for the job in your previous Lakers post. Nice one Kurt.

    • drewsylvania - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Revisionist history!

  3. fnc111 - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:02 AM


    • drewsylvania - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Who are you, Mitt Romney?

  4. nokoolaidcowboy - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:37 AM

    Good for Coach D’Antoni, I wish he was still in NY and Carmelo and LaLa were still up in Denver!

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      And cigarettes were still 50 cents a pack.

  5. sdelmonte - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    ESPN is calling this a complete surprise. But I really didn’t see Phil coming back, and can’t imagine Buss Jr would have ever accepted Phil’s terms.

  6. fotydaze - Nov 12, 2012 at 5:06 AM

    From one unproven coach to another. We’re better off offering Bickerstaff the job, at least he can coach defense. This is absolute bull#&!+

    • unxpexted1 - Nov 12, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      Honestly I completely agree with Bickerstaff keeping the job. Players seem to like him.

  7. jtm12180 - Nov 12, 2012 at 5:09 AM

    Fnc111 = fail

  8. bcjim - Nov 12, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    Good for the Lakers not kowtowing to St Phil and his “accomplishments”. Winning a bunch of titles with MJ and Kobe….way to go dude.

    • nbascreed - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:53 AM


      Clearly you’re biased b/c if you weren’t you’d realize the Bulls and the Lakers were stuck in the mud before Phil arrived. Phil, if anything, was just a big a part of those 3 3-Peats (never to be done again mind you) as MJ, Kobe or Shaq.

      Additionally, he led a NO-MJ Bulls squad to 50+ wins AND a Game 7 (or 6) nail biter against a fully loaded Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals. Give me a break dude!

    • lucky5936 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:40 AM


      So you are suggesting that the Lakers are better off without a head coach who has won more championships (11 titles) than the rest of the NBA’s current head coaches combined (7 titles).

      I hate to break this to you, but many other coaches coached Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe, but none of them won titles. Jackson has won ELEVEN titles!! If the Lakers were a young team, I could see why Jackson wouldn’t be the top choice. But this is an aged team who’s window of opportunity is closing. The triangle offense runs best with a big guy down low (Hence the Shaq, Kobe titles) and Bryan and Gasol already know the offense. BIG MISTAKE by Buss and co. The Laker’s brass just put their pride over the championship desires of the Laker fan base.

  9. whodeytn - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:14 AM

    Good for the Lakers not kowtowing to St Phil and his “accomplishments”. Winning a bunch of titles with MJ and Kobe….way to go dude.

    lol really? You’re clueless.

  10. moseskkim - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:24 AM

    This will result in Nash having the ball in his hands a lot more. That’s gotta be good. Lakers aren’t gonna win with Nash getting 5 and 3 assists. If the offense runs smoothly, there should be much less turnovers. Naturally the defense should get better with a more efficient offense. Lakers should set the pace and it should be fun to watch.

  11. urodaddy07 - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:36 AM

    I don’t like D’Antoni for the simple reason that all his teams have sucked defensively. Am not convinced he can coach defense. The minute he left the Knicks they became a better defensive team andte Suns were awful on defense when he was there and knowing LA’s defensive struggles, don’t think this is good fit at all.

  12. jmclarkent - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:39 AM

    This team seems like an odd fit D’Antoni for the traditional D’Antoni offense – it will be interesting to see how he adapts his scheme to fit the big fellas.

  13. BigBeachBall - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:44 AM

    dunleavy’s system was incompatible with melo…
    it will be the same story with kobe…
    get ready for some fireworks…

    • raidmagic - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:30 AM

      Well then it’s a good thing they hired D’Antoni…

  14. BigBeachBall - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    Jim Buss is retarded… he’s gone next year…

    • money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:39 AM

      i feel like the fact phil jackson was asking for so much, buss felt like pj was trying to punk the organization. pj had a great opportunity in front of him. so buss being the business man he is, wouldn’t tolerate that i guess, and snatched this golden opportunity from phil. i don’t know why phil couldn’t just take the job at the lakers’ offering threshold. he was asking for a lot.

    • money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:52 AM

      you would think phil jackson would be asking for everything under the sun if the team wasn’t that good, or if he needed some extra incentive to join the staff. but this team has great pieces! are you kidding me phil? why did he have so many demands? it’s not like he was being asked to coach the bobcats. this is the lakers. you beg THEM to hire you, not the the other way around. the buss’s weren’t having it, and i am not too surprised.

  15. bobhamiltonchicago - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    The Lakers made a big mistake not taking Phil Jackson back. Now that the rest of the NBA knows he’s available, watch for him to be signed with even better terms than he was asking for in LA.

  16. 13arod - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:23 AM

    he going to turn out like brown

  17. money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    do any of you guys remember the time kobe was a free agent in 2004 i beleive, and he wanted to play for the suns? diantoni was there. he really means it when he says he like diantoni.

  18. kvanhorn87 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Where is all the chest thumping we heard on Friday? That what separates the Lakers organization is that they will do anything to win. Guess not. If Boy wonder can win in Miami, Brown could have won in LA. It is all about the players.

    • money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      it’s all about the players? to an extent. but if you’re not a hyporcrite, then you must not, for example, place any blame on isaiah thomas’s stint in ny as coach or gm. since it ALL falls on the players. i’m just playing devil’s advocate. if u truly believe everything is all about the players , then you should look at isaiah thomas as a saint..

    • cosanostra71 - Nov 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      it is all about the players. And the Lakers have always struggled bringing in players. Thank you for this insightful comment.

  19. money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    at least we get to see kobe “win without phil”

  20. onbucky96 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    I think the Lakers should have hired Stan VanGundy. Then we could have had Stan vs Dwight 2.0 all season. Thanks for nothing.

  21. florida727 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    Mike’s going to have to modify his seven-seconds-or-less system by adding a 1 to it… as in 17 seconds or less. The Lakers are getting old.

    • money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:29 AM

      if no one told you how old kobe was , from watching him alone and using the ‘eye test’, is there any way you would say he’s ‘old’ ??

      • uscthom78 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:51 AM

        Using the eye test, i would say he looks at least 40.

  22. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    @jerdogthompson: You da man.

    Duly noted.

  23. rodge1 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    With that prolific bench they have, Lakers didn’t need Phil Jackson. With all that cap-room they have since Kobe is unselfish and takes pay-cuts to sign more players, they don’t need Phil Jackson… Oh wait, both of those are false, never mind.

  24. money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    all the guys who doo-doo’d on mike diantoni’s coaching skills may have to eat their words in the future now that he can fully perform with a cast he likes. and he has his point guard. well, when nash comes back he will. are there any more moves the lakers can make as it pertains to the bench? we need a slasher who can play above the rim. i wish LA still had ariza. he’d be a great fit on the bench. sorry if i sound like a dreaming lakers fan, i don’t do that often.

  25. lakerfan4life - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    In the words of Kevin Durant… “Wow”.

    This is the Mike Brown hire in reverse. The Lakers went from a coach that was all defense, no (knowledge of) offense, to one that’s all offense and no (knowledge of) defense. Every D’Antoni team has been “run, run, run”, and the Lakers aren’t built for that. And I think they can forget about keeping DH next year. D’Antoni’s never won anything before, and I don’t see him as good enough to change that this year.

    Hard to believe that Phil would hold the Lakers hostage like that. Sounds like the spin coming from the Lakers management to justify going in the wrong direction again. This sounds like a Jimmy Buss move, just like last time. A stupid move, in my opinion. Very disappointing.

    • bougin89 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:57 AM

      I wish we could varify that all of the reported demands were true but if history would say most seem like they would be true(for whatever that’s worth).

      I agree D’antoni wouldn’t have been my first choice. Obviously Nash is a perfect fit but without much depth this team is going to be run into the ground unless D’antoni can make a few tweaks here and there to slow it down and use this teams strengths(their bigs).

      The only thing we know right now is that it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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