By Tim Cornell
The Lakers have signed Mike D’Antoni to a three year guaranteed deal worth $12 million, with a fourth year team option on Nov. 12th, following the firing of Mike Brown.
D’Antoni underwent knee surgery earlier this month and must first be cleared to travel. He is reported further along then most expect. Although interim head coach Bickerstaff will probably remain head coach until D’Antoni is cleared.
D’Antoni was drafted into the NBA as the 20th pick in the 2nd round in1973. He played briefly in the NBA and ABA before going overseas to play in the Euro league. It is here where he found much success. Highlights include five Italian League titles, two Euroleague titles and being named the league’s top point guard of all time in 1990.
In Europe is also where D’Antoni landed his first coaching job. He spent seven total years in Europe with two different clubs finding great success as a coach. He got his first opportunity to head coach a NBA team in 2003 with the Phoenix Suns. He helped the team acquire Steve Nash the next season. Which led to great success for the club.
In 2008 D’Antoni left the Suns and signed a 4-year $24 million deal with the Knicks. On March 14th, 2012, he resigned as the Knicks head coach after a dismal 18-24 start despite having superstars such as Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
That leads us to now.So the big question a lot of Laker fans and NBA fans around the league are asking is, “Why not Phil?” To put it simply. Phil was asking too much.
While health is no longer an issue, if Phil was going to come back it was only going to be if he was going to get exactly what he wanted. This included strict control over personnel, a TON of money, and even the ability to skip select road games.
One of the biggest aspects of the game the Lakers need to work on is chemistry and cohesiveness. They need a coach who can give 100%. Phil was not the guy. A coach who does not even want to travel to some road games is not what this star stacked team needs.
While there will never be any way to really know, I believe Phil would have done a better job. But even though it was a coaching/player combination that both excited and scared the daylight out of me, it was just never really possible.
D’Antoni should be a great fit offensively. Especially with the Lakers saying goodbye to the Princeton offense. Mike’s biggest weakness is on defense. But at the same time Mike Brown’s biggest strength was defense and the Lakers currently sit in the middle of the pack with the 14th ranked defense. So who really knows how that will play out.
With the firing of one Mike and the hiring of another, an already electrifying season just got even more exciting.