LA Lakers hire Mike D’Antoni
LOS ANGELES - The Associated Press
AP photoThe Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni yesterday, signing the former coach of the Suns and Knicks to replace Mike Brown.
The Lakers and D’Antoni’s agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed the deal two days after the Lakers fired Brown five games into the season.
D’Antoni agreed to a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth season.
D’Antoni got the high-profile job running the 16-time NBA champions only after the club’s negotiations broke down with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. The 11-time NBA champion coach met with Lakers owners Jerry and Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak on Saturday to discuss a return for a third stint on Los Angeles’ bench.
The Lakers’ top brass instead went with D’Antoni, who coached Lakers point guard Steve Nash during five seasons in Phoenix. Nash won two MVP awards while running D’Antoni’s signature up-tempo offense for the coach’s final four seasons, when they won at least 54 games each season and reached two Western Conference finals.
D’Antoni then coached New York for the past four seasons, resigning last March after a largely unsuccessful tenure featuring just one playoff appearance and no postseason victories. D’Antoni also coached the Denver Nuggets during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.
Nash and Kobe Bryant both have expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for D’Antoni, although Bryant also campaigned eagerly for Jackson. Bryant idolized D’Antoni while growing up in Italy, where D’Antoni was a star player for Olimpia Milano in the Italian pro league.