As soon as Mike Brown got the boot from L.A., the rumor mill cranked up that Phil Jackson would be returning to lead his Lakers to the promised land. Well, it’s time for Kobe to crank up that Death Stare again because the Lakers have instead gone with former Suns and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. Read me the obituary, ESPN:
According to LeGarie, D’Antoni’s deal is for four years.
Sources confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that D’Antoni quickly agreed to coach the Lakers after L.A.’s weekend of negotiations to bring back Phil Jackson broke down.
It had been widely anticipated that the Lakers would be bringing back Jackson after deciding to oust Brown just five games into the regular season, but sources said that the Lakers ultimately couldn’t stomach Jackson’s contract demands to return, which were believed to include a salary ranging from $10 to 15 million annually, significant say in personnel decisions as well as his eventual replacement along with the ability for the 67-year-old to skip selected road games.
Sources indicate that the deal was consummated very quickly late Sunday night toward the end of the Lakers win over Sacramento.
Remember when I said the Lakers wouldn’t win a title with Mike Brown as the head coach? Well, I’m going to go ahead and say the same thing about D’Antoni. While he’s an offensive specialist, the Lakers have struggled on defense in the last two years and D’Antoni – whose teams’ defensive woes have been widely publicized – won’t help those matters.
Of course, a reunion with Steve Nash will spell good things for the offensive flow, but the Lakers defense will be just as bad or worse than it was when they lost their first three games. Add in the fact that D’Antoni collapsed under the Madison Square Garden bright lights and Carmelo Anthony’s ego and you have to wonder if he’ll be able to handle Kobe Bryant and the coach killer with nary a post-up move.
I still can’t help but think the Lakers would have been better off with Brian Shaw for three or four years after Phil left, then totally cleaned house when Kobe retired instead of forcing these coaching decisions. That’s all conjecture at this point. But the fact is, the Lakers have to somehow pull their tumultuous season together if they hope to make this Dream Team work out long enough for a title push.
Only time will tell if D’Antoni is the best person to right the ship.