Nov 13, 2012, 11:14 AM EST
The idea Phil Jackson was the clear frontrunner for the Lakers head coaching job was not some media creation or fan fiction — everyone around the team said Jackson was the lead candidate.
From the start if felt odd — if you were around and felt the distaste between Jackson and Jim Buss (the guy running the basketball side of Lakers for his father Jerry) it seemed odd they would work together again. Especially after Jackson left and Buss cleaned house and long-time guys like assistant GM Ronnie Lester were let go.
Yet Jackson and Buss met last Saturday and — because Jackson likes to take his time and think over decisions — he asked for time until Monday to go over a final answer and discuss terms. At least that’s what all the parties are saying about compensation. I mean, Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak and Jackson worked together for most of the dozen years Jackson was with the Lakers, you think there was a ton of things to discuss about how he would coach the team? You really think there was no discussion of money and what else he would want to return?
Then Jackson got a midnight phone call late Sunday telling him the Lakers were going with Mike D’Antoni.
Why the switch? It’s all a power play by both sides, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Jackson wanted to humiliate Lakers vice president Jim Buss far more than he wanted to coach the team. He wanted significant allowances on travel, coaching duties and an ability to veto player personnel moves that didn’t fit his vision. With an unprecedented 11 coaching championships, Jackson had every right to make unprecedented demands. He doesn’t have the right to be surprised when the Lakers rejected them and hired a pliable, cheaper coach in Mike D’Antoni.
“Phil wanted Jim Buss to walk away with his tail between his legs,” one source with knowledge of the discussions told Yahoo! Sports. “He thought he had time to still negotiate with them, and see how much they would give him.”
Jim Buss had the power and wanted to keep it. D’Antoni was his guy. Both sides still deny Jackson’s demands were the issue. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t.
But another big question remains — why talk to Jackson and let a lot of people know he’s the front runner, why get fans hopes up, if you weren’t going to offer him the job? Buss is smart enough to know the fans wanted Jackson and if he became the clear front-runner anyone else — even a quality coach like D’Antoni — would come off as the consolation prize. Why go down that road?
Kevin Ding at the Orange County Register has a great answer for that in his breakdown of what happened.
The hour and a half at Jackson’s home in Playa del Rey ended with handshakes – but there is evidence to support the belief that it began with the Lakers’ brass never really expecting Jackson to want the job.
When Jackson and Kupchak had a casual lunch just two months ago, Jackson said he didn’t think he ever wanted to coach again. (When Kupchak reminded him of that in the Saturday meeting, Jackson explained that the earlier debate didn’t include all these real and attractive details with his old team in his adopted home, Bryant and Pau Gasol joined now by Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.)…
So maybe the Lakers went into this process planning a token gesture toward Jackson that they could present to the fans: “See, we did try for Phil again – with Jim even proving there are no hard feelings by making the overture personally – and Phil isn’t interested, sorry. Everybody get excited for Mike D’Antoni!”
That seems very plausible.
But it still comes back to the Lakers front office seemed to not have a plan in place from the start, from before they came to the decision to fire Mike Brown. This could all work out — Pat Riley and Paul Westhead both had to take over the Lakers when the season had already started and won titles in their first years as the Lakers head man.
The challenge for D’Antoni is that he is going to have that expectation over his head now — the Lakers fired Mike Brown saying it was all about winning titles, then didn’t hire the coach with 11 rings. For whatever reason.
No pressure, Mike.
Dec 18, 2013, 2:49 AM EST
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while salivating over the idea of a “Rounders” sequel. Or wincing at the idea. (Count me with the latter group.) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Two clutch game winners in a row. Tuesday night he had 23 of his 36 points in the second half…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:15 AM EST
To me, that looked like the start of a punch that Jordan Hamilton thought better of before it landed but couldn’t stop. And Hamilton is going to get suspended for that. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter of a game where the Thunder were in control (up 10), the Thunder were heading back…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:10 PM EST
This is the one thing that is certain: Omer Asik will get his wish and be traded in the next 48 hours. Houston still plans to move him by Dec. 19 — after that date and they can’t flip any of the assets they get at the trade deadline. Where he is going to land…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:39 PM EST
Just two nights ago, Damian Lillard hit the game winner in overtime to lift the Blazers over the Pistons. Tuesday night he was playing the hero again. The Blazers and Cavaliers were tied 116-116 with 7.1 seconds left and Portland inbounded the ball and went with the simple 1-4 flat play and let Lillard create. I’m…
Dec 17, 2013, 8:17 PM EST
San Antonio’s ability to be without a player, just plug in another guy and make it work is the stuff of legend. However, it’s a lot harder for them to do this with Tony Parker than anyone else — he is the focal point of the offense. Yet that’s what the Spurs are going to…
Dec 17, 2013, 7:13 PM EST
Because the Knicks don’t have enough other issues to deal with… Mike Woodson said on Tuesday afternoon that he could be without Amar’e Stoudemire for a while — with Kenyon Martin out too Tyson Chandler can’t bet back fast enough (likely Friday). Here’s Woodson’s direct quite, via ESPNNewYork.com. “Amar’e’s going to be out a while,”…
Dec 17, 2013, 6:01 PM EST
You need to go back seven seasons to find one where at least one NBA coach wasn’t canned before Christmas. Right now we are eight days away from Santa’s visit and it looks like he once again may not bring any pink slips in his bag. If that changes, it’s because of the Knicks. While…
Dec 17, 2013, 5:04 PM EST
It’s been known for a while the Cavaliers have been testing the trade market for Dion Waiters. We told you last week that there was buzz the Sixers could look to move Evan Turner — he leads them in scoring and as a free agent this summer could draw a bigger contract than they want…
Dec 17, 2013, 4:17 PM EST
Golden State is just one more loss away from being a .500 team — for all the sexy play of their sharpshooters they are not playing good defense anymore not winning games (6-9 in last 15, with the 17th ranked defense in the league). Who they miss is Andre Iguodala — and they could get…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:47 PM EST
UPDATE 3:47 pm: It didn’t take long for multiple quality sources to shoot this idea down. Spoke w/source moments ago who said the latest Rajon Rondo rumor that he will be traded to the Sacramento #Kings, is "not happening."— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) December 17, 2013 FYI re: Rajon Rondo rumor, Celtics & Kings have…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:15 PM EST
Google search records are not the best way to test the popularity of something, but it is a pretty democratic way. Bottom line is you find out who people want to find out more about. As a fun little NBA treat, Google released Tuesday their most searched NBA players… and if you have to guess…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:59 PM EST
Last we checked on Brian Shaw, the Nuggets coach was blaming his team’s slow starts on pizza and nachos. But replacing the junk food with healthier options hasn’t turned Denver’s fortunes early in games. The Nuggets have lost all eight first quarters this month, though they’ve gone 5-3 in those games. The issue isn’t isolated…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:25 PM EST
If you still want to buy Michael Jordan’s home you can — it’s still on the market. Jordan has been trying to sell his Chicago compound — which has 9 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a dining room table that is like a grid of the city of Bagdad, a pool with a grass island in the…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:57 PM EST
Chris Kaman, after doing it with the Mavericks last season, knows playing on a one-year contract comes with all kinds of complications. Before the season, he said: There’s just so many things that can happen, and the biggest one is that you’re on a one-year deal and you’re worried about it the whole time and…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:22 PM EST
There wasn’t much to see after halftime of the Heat’s easy win over the Jazz — Utah got the ball inside and scored on second chance points in the first half, but talent wins out in the NBA and Miami has much more than Utah. Miami turned this into a rout. However one potentially important…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:44 AM EST
Alec Burks scored a career-high 31 points against the Heat on Monday night, so let’s all overreact. That should be easy for Marvin Williams, who’s been overreacting to his Jazz teammate’s good play for a while. Via Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: “He had a hell of a game,” Utah forward Marvin Williams…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
The NBA warned Tony Wroten for flopping, and he deserved it. Here’s video (hat tip: Ben Golliver of Point Forward): Wroten was wide open when he shot, and he still fell. He clearly stuck his foot out to either draw contact or lose his balance. It’s the type of play that could get someone injured.…
Dec 17, 2013, 10:41 AM EST
He was simply having a wonderful Christmas time. As part of his holiday festivities Paul McCartney — That would be Sir Paul McCartney to you, the legendary Beatles singer, founder of Wings, followed by an amazing solo career — went to the Nets-76ers game Monday night in Brooklyn and didn’t sit hidden away in a luxury…
Dec 17, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The Knicks recently elevated Pablo Prigioni’s role, and they were better for it. In the three games prior to Monday’s contest against Washington, Prigioni played 31, 39 and 31 minutes – his first 30-minute games since a season-opening win over the Bucks. And he produced: 16 assists, one turnover and eight steals in the three…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Knicks’ latest setback, a home loss to the Wizards, does what every New York loss does: It intensifies the public scrutiny on Mike Woodson. But within the walls of Madison Square Garden, that’s not necessarily the case. First of all, who knows what James Dolan is thinking? There’s little sense using logic to guess…
- Tuesday night NBA grades: Damian Lillard is clutch 0
- Nuggets Jordan Hamilton ejected for striking Thunder’s Steven Adams (VIDEO) 3
- Asik trade update: Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia most likely destinations 6
- Another day, another Damian Lillard game-winning shot 10
- Spurs’ Tony Parker out at least two games with shin injury 2
- NFL legend Jim Brown takes shot at Kobe Bryant, Kobe fires back (104)
- Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford (50)
- Deserving or not Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade among All-Star starters in early voting returns (48)
- Pau Gasol expresses frustration with D’Antoni offense. Lakers have to think trade. (46)
- Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard” (45)