Only a few hours after the Los Angeles Lakers came out on top against the division rival Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, the news broke of the team’s hiring of Mike D’Antoni to become the new head coach. This news shocked everyone as an announcement of the hiring of Phil Jackson was expected on Monday with D’Antoni considered to be nothing more than a backup plan for the Lakers.
Apparently, the Lakers’ brass weren’t willing to given in to Jackson’s demands with reports that he was “asking for the moon” in order to return as the team’s head coach for a third time. Jackson is rumored to be “stunned” by D’Antoni’s hiring as he was ready to take over on Monday.
In a unanimous decision between Lakers VP Jim Buss, GM Mitch Kupchak and owner Jerry Buss, the Lakers signed D’Antoni to a three-year deal.
The hiring of D’Antoni was made official on Monday morning via press release:
EL SEGUNDO – The Los Angeles Lakers have signed Mike D’Antoni to a multi-year contract as head coach, it was announced today by Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.
“After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward,” said Kupchak. “Knowing his style of play and given the current make-up of our roster, we feel Mike is a great fit, are excited to have him as our next head coach and hope he will help our team reach its full potential.”
D’Antoni, who becomes the 24th head coach in franchise history and 20th in the Los Angeles era, owns a 388-339 (.534) overall NBA head coaching record in 10 seasons with Denver, Phoenix and New York.