LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami) – The Los Angeles Lakers shocked the basketball world Monday morning when they hired former New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni to be the team’s new head coach, replacing Mike Brown who was fired on Friday.
The odds on favorite to take the job had been former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. The talk throughout the weekend was the job was Jackson’s if he wanted it and that contract negotiations would start between the two sides shortly.
But, according to NBA.com, the Lakers didn’t want to enter into a relationship with Jackson that was similar to the deal the Miami Heat has with Pat Riley.
“Phil wanted total control and say over the direction of any franchise he went to, a la Riley/Miami,” reported NBA.com’s David Aldridge.
Once Jackson was off the table, the Lakers quickly moved on to D’Antoni, who is known for his offensive prowess. D’Antoni once had his Phoenix offense dubbed “Seven Seconds or Less,” due to its proficiency for scoring quickly.
According to ESPNLA.com, both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash approved of the hiring of D’Antoni. Nash had his greatest success in the league while playing under D’Antoni in Phoenix.
But, L.A.’s biggest problem hasn’t been offense this season, it’s been defense. D’Antoni’s first three seasons as coach of the Knicks never saw the team ranked higher than 22nd in the league in defense, according to NBCSports.com. In Phoenix, his teams were right in the middle of the league defensively.
The Lakers have the offensive pieces to make a serious run this year and the team is in complete win-now mode. But, they will have to rally around D’Antoni quickly and learn his system fast, but that will be aided by the presence of Nash, when he returns to the court.
If L.A. fails under D’Antoni, it could be a very long offseason in Los Angeles.