Lakers appoint D'Antoni as new coach
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Lakers have appointed Mike D’Antoni as their new coach on a multi-year contract, the NBA team’s spokesman John Black announced.
D’Antoni takes over from Mike Brown, who was sacked last Friday, and his hiring brought an abrupt end to speculation that Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson would come out of retirement to coach the Lakers.
The underachieving team is due to hold a press conference to announce the deal either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have both supported the appointment, according to the Lakers’ website on Monday.
Nash played for D’Antoni in Phoenix when the point guard won consecutive Most Valuable Player awards in 2005 and 2006, and Bryant worked with D’Antoni this summer when the coach was an assistant on the US Olympic team staff.
Brown was fired after the Lakers 1-4 start to the season. Under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff they have since won two games.
A Lakers statement said owner Jerry Buss, executive vice president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak “were unanimous that D’Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that Bickerstaff would remain in that role until D’Antoni takes over, possibly within a week or two. D’Antoni is recovering from knee replacement surgery.
D’Antoni has previously been the head coach for Denver, Phoenix and most recently the New York Knicks. He resigned as Knicks head coach last March with the team just 18-24, and was 121-167 in nearly four full seasons with New York.
On Saturday Jackson appeared to be the top contender for the job, although on Sunday there were reports of various issues between him and the club ranging from his reluctance to travel to all away games and Jackson’s desire to have input into personnel decisions.
In two prior stints with the Lakers, Jackson guided the club to five titles. He spent five seasons as head coach in Los Angeles, from 1999-2004, winning three titles.
He then sat out a year before returning for a six-year run that featured back-to-back championships.
Jackson, who guided Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls to six championships, retired in May of 2011 after the Dallas Mavericks swept Los Angeles from the playoffs to end a Lakers season that Jackson had said would be his last.