LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Mike D'Antoni as the team's new head coach. The move is a bit of a surprise since former coach Phil Jackson was seen by most as the overwhelming frontrunner to take over the coaching duties, which became vacant when the team fired Mike Brown on Friday.
However, the Lakers turned to D'Antoni, according to sources, when Jackson's demands were deemed too exorbitant. D'Antoni was viewed by most as the next best option and the team quickly struck a deal with him by agreeing to a 3-year contract worth $12 million, with a team option for a fourth season. D'Antoni previously served as the head coach in Denver, Phoenix and New York. He was also an assistant on the gold medal winning 2012 USA Olympic team in London.
With the Lakers, D'Antoni will be reunited with point guard Steve Nash. D'Antoni enjoyed his greatest success as an NBA head coach during his five seasons in Phoenix. With Nash leading the squad, D'Antoni guided the Suns to three Pacific Division titles and a pair of Western Conference finals. In 2005, he was named NBA coach of the year.
D'Antoni takes over a Lakers team which fired Brown in the wake of a disastrous start to the 2012-13 season. Despite the off-season additions of Nash and Dwight Howard, the Lakers won only one of the first five games of the season, prompting the team to fire Brown after just five games. Jackson, who previously led the Lakers to five NBA championships, was considered by many to the logical choice to take over the reigns. But Jackson, according to sources, asked for several demands the team wasn't willing to commit to, including a piece of team ownership.
D'Antoni, who recently underwent knee surgery, will arrive in Los Angeles sometime this week and isn't expected to coach his first game for several more days.
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:14 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:14:07 GMT
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