The Los Angeles Lakers like Mike — Mike D’Antoni that is.
After a 1-4 start, the team fired Mike Brown as head coach on Friday and quickly hired Mike D’Antoni early Monday morning as his replacement. D’Antoni will join the squad in about a week after he finishes recuperating from knee surgery. Bernie Bickerstaff is running the team as interim coach.
D’Antoni, a former NBA Coach of the Year, got a three-year deal that pays about $12 million with an option for a fourth. Apparently Phil Jackson’s contract demands were too much for the Lakers to swallow.
D’Antoni is expected to implement an up-tempo game to replace Brown’s so-called Princeton offense.
Mike D’Antoni coached the Knicks from 2008 to March 2012 when he quit under pressure after a disappointing start (and an overall disappointing tenure). He was also an assistant coach for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics. D’Antoni has an overall record of 388-339 as an NBA head coach.
He previously coached Lakers’ guard Steve Nash when both were with Phoenix and led the Suns to the Western Conference finals in 2005 and 2006. According to the LA Times, Nash was happy with the new hire:
“Obviously, I think everyone knows how much I love Mike. If he were the coach, it would be seamless and terrific for me, and I think the team as well.”
Although Kobe Bryant was pushing for the Lakers to re-hire Jackson, he also approved of D’Antoni coming on board because “Bryant idolized D’Antoni while growing up in Italy, where D’Antoni was a star player in the Italian league,” according to ESPN.
[Image credit: Matt Hickey]