Lakers pick D'Antoni as new head coach

Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:16pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With most of their fans demanding the return of Phil Jackson, the Los Angeles Lakers sprang a surprise on Monday by naming former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni to replace Mike Brown.

Hall of Fame coach Jackson, the 11-time NBA championship winner, had been widely expected to come out of retirement to lead the Lakers for a third time but the Lakers instead opted for the offense-minded D'Antoni.

According to the Los Angeles Times, talks with the heavily favoured Jackson broke down after the veteran coach made significant demands, including a stake in team ownership.

Jackson, 67, compiled a 1,155-485 record in 20 NBA seasons, winning six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan followed by five more in two separate stints with the Lakers.

D'Antoni, 61, has signed a three-year deal for $12 million, with the Lakers holding an option for a fourth year, local media reported.

"Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, executive vice president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak were unanimous that D'Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time," Lakers spokesman John Black said in a statement.

D'Antoni is expected to be formally introduced as the 24th Lakers head coach this week, most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday, Black added.

"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," Kupchak said.   Continued...

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni reacts to a call late in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Hornets during their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, February 17, 2012. REUTERS/Adam Hunger