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Lakers GM Kupchak says team wanted D’Antoni, didn’t think Jackson would want job

Nov 13, 2012, 4:54 PM EDT

Mitch Kupchak AP

Phil Jackson was under the impression that the Lakers job was his if he wanted it — and it wasn’t just his impression. Mike D’Antoni thought it was Jackson’s job, everyone around the Lakers thought it was Jackson’s job, and Lakers fans thought it was Jackson’s job.

The Lakers front office wanted Mike D’Antoni. And Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak admitted Tuesday he didn’t think Jackson would want the job (in part because Jackson told Kupchak a few months before he didn’t think he’d ever return to coaching). They were caught off guard by the momentum of Jackson returning picked up.

Kupchak has taken the incoming fire and spoke with reporters about the move. Here are tweets from Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register about what he said.



That is a good soldier providing cover when under fire.

We’ve made the argument that D’Antoni is the better long-term hire (if he can get them to defend). But the problem with how this went down is the game changed for D’Antoni — he went from replacing Mike Brown (who D’Antoni will be better than) to replacing Phil Jackson in the minds of Lakers fans. Not even the real Jackson, but worse yet the legend of him, The Lakers could win 62 games for D’Antoni and he will hear how Phil’s team would have won 70 games. And swept the Celtics. And shut out the Bobcats 101-0. And how Kobe Bryant would have scored every time he walked over the half-court line.

But no pressure Mike. Good luck.

  1. lakerluver - Nov 13, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    “Just win, Baby”!!!

  2. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Nov 13, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    so why even go throughout the charades of “interviewing” jackson…getting the fans all riled up??

    oh well, i like this move as a heat fan..

    As a nba fan I’m disgusted

    • zerole00 - Nov 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      They had to do it out of formality at the very least, imagine the fan outrage if they hadn’t even contacted him.

      • zerole00 - Nov 14, 2012 at 2:41 PM

        In any case, I never expected Jim to swallow his ego after the purge that followed Jackson’s departure. Sadly, the wrong sibling is in the right position.

  3. losangelesfan - Nov 13, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Winning changes everything.

  4. dls612 - Nov 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    On today’s episode….

  5. bigtganks - Nov 13, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    People. It comes down to getting Howard to resign after this year. If Phil was around and had his say as well, Howard may likely sign elsewhere.

  6. abchome - Nov 13, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    So the Lakers didn’t want Phil back and they met him just for a show?

  7. spthegr8 - Nov 13, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    REALLY?? REALLY??? They wanted D’antoni, but they went to Phil’s house and asked him in person and yet they called D’antoni over the phone????? I mean it is what it is. I wanted Phil but I think D’antoni is gonna do a helluva job. I’m riding with him now. Either way we are WAY better off with him as opposed too MB. But as a fan………DON’T INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE.!!!!!!!!!! Everybody know’s the real reason why we didn’t get PJ ??????? If you know the history with Phil and Jimbo, then you know the answer.!!!!!!!!!

    • loungefly74 - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      agree. Jimbo and PJ had some words…and it was over that quick.

  8. eugenesaxe - Nov 13, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    If you’re going to lie, make it fit the known facts. You chased Jackson, and gave D’Antoni a courtesy call.

  9. zacksdad - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    I do not agree with some news reports that they just wanted to embarrass Phil. What they did do is put extra pressure to win it all. If they do not win the championship, a lot of people will state “What if they hired Phil”. But by entertaining the thought of hiring Phil and because he was willing to accept it, there will be a lot of second guessing if we lose.

    Some people just say we can fire D’Antoni and hire Phil next year if it does not workout. But Kobe and Nash do not have many years left on their knees, And if you thought Phil’s demands were bad this year, just wait till next year. He will want Jim Buss out and his girlfriend in.

  10. j0esixpack - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    The Lakers really handled this in a bizarre way.

    Seems like they seriously flirted with the idea of Jackson but then realized the pitfalls of that move.

    D’Antoni has a lot to prove. Jackson has nothing to prove, and no pressure to do otherwise.

    Although the premise of the article is correct, that D’Antoni needs to live up to the false hype of “what if Phil had been there” a semi-retired Phil Jackson as head coach is not a short term, nor certainly a long term solution for the Lakers.

    So from this Cetlics fan’s perspective, although the route they took to make their decision was confusing and convoluted, ultimately I’d say they made the right choice.

  11. onbucky96 - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Translation: we can get Mike for 3yrs at Phillip’s price for 1yr, sans Zen/Budda/Jedi/Vulcan logic.

  12. DonRSD - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:04 PM


  13. geo59 - Nov 13, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    D’Antoni has never won a championship. D’Antoni couldn’t deal with the big city pressure (NYC) and star personalities on the Knicks squad and he is not likely to be able to deal with LA and the personalities on the Lakers squad. Jim Buss continues to screw up the Lakers franchise. They should have hired Phil back. This is a no-brainer and Buss and Kupchak blew it.

    • nygrwy - Nov 14, 2012 at 12:22 AM

      as a knicks fan I have to say the guy never got a fair shot. the roster was constantly changing and we all know melo is not conforming to anything

  14. jedifriedchicken - Nov 13, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Jimmy’s a coward. It’s disappointing that he’s got to muck up Mitch’s legacy with this mess. What a total clusterf*** the Lakers ownership has made of what otherwise should have been the start of a truly wonderful season.

  15. lionsplayoffs - Nov 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    Wait a minute…did he or did he not call Phil Jackson and travel to his HOUSE to talk to him about the job? You don’t do that unless you’re hot to hire a guy. Someone’s not telling the truth, unless Phil served them bad coffee. Which would be hard to believe, you’d think someone like Phil would only drink awesome coffee.

  16. bcjim - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:56 AM

    Lol at all the bitter Laker/St Phil fans.

  17. 20dollardinners - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Yet another potential success ruined by male ego. I think the Buss family sees the Heat win with a below average coach and sees stars in their eyes. They see that when management puts together top players they win championships.

    Challenge for Lakers – they have aging talent in Nash and Bryant. Try have no depth – their bench is terrible.

  18. yousuxxors - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    As a knicks fan i will say mike never got a chance. We had constant turnover and never gave him the players he wanted. Once he started getting players he liked, they traded them all away for melo who is the polar opposite of his system. I think with nash dwight pau running the pick n roll with kobe on tbe wings they will be beasts. They have enough veterans plus dwight to play good enough d.

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