Talks With Phil Break Down, Lakers Hire Mike D'Antoni

Nick Laham

The front office shocks the basketball world yet again.

Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times has just reported via Twitter than Mike D'Antoni, not Phil Jackson, will be the new Lakers head coach. Bresnahan tells us that D'Antoni has signed a four-year contract with the team and that Phil was "asking for the moon." J.A. Adande, who has confirmed the news, reports that D'Antoni will join the team later this week, as he's still awaiting medical clearance for his surgically repaired knee.

D'Antoni, of course, rose to the upper reaches of the NBA coaching ranks with his "Seven Seconds of Less" Phoenix Suns, piloted by one Steve Nash. After five years in Phoenix he left in 2008 and took over the Knicks, who fired him in the middle of last season. D'Antoni comes endorsed by both Nash and Kobe Bryant. He and Kobe have worked together extensively as part of the U.S. Olympic team.

My quick reaction: I dig it. Like everyone else I was hoping the team could lure Phil back for one more run, but D'Antoni is a terrific fallback option. He can coach X's and O's, will have the respect of the locker room and will implement a system that's fun as hell to watch. And certainly no one should begrudge Phil his demands, whatever they were. He doesn't owe the Lakers any favors, and if the two couldn't reach a meeting of the minds, that's okay. Life in Lakerdom rolls forward with expectations undiminished.

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