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Lakers Hire Mike D'Antoni

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

After negotiations with Phil Jackson fell through, LA inked D’Antoni to a 4 year/$12 million contract.

Lakers Hire Mike D'Antoni

Heading into the weekend, the road for Phil Jackson's return to the bench for the Lakers was paved with a full motorcade ready to escort him to the Staples Center.  Heading into this week, Mike D'Antoni is the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.  

My how quickly things change.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the Lakers decision to hire D'Antoni over Jackson and cited that their former coach was asking for "the moon" and even partial ownership in the team.  A team spokesman also confirmed the hiring and said that a formal announcement/introduction will likely take place on Tuesday or Wednesday.

After the Lakers fired coach Mike Brown last week, assistant Bernie Bickerstaff took over as interim coach while the pursuit of a permanent option began.  D'Antoni was named as one of the frontrunners before Jackson's name again entered the conversation.  It seemed all but inevitable that Jackson would return, and all signs pointed to that direction.  But when talks fell through, LA turned to D'Antoni as a backup option and pulled the trigger on a four-year deal.

What does D'Antoni bring to the table?  He is one of the more innovative offensive minds in the league, and now he'll be reunited with the one point guard that has run his system better than anyone else: Steve Nash.  If Nash can stay healthy, the Lakers have the ideal point guard for their new coach.  In Dwight Howard, they have the most athletic big man in the league that should be able to clean up on the break.  Pau Gasol is a great pick-and-roll big man and possesses so many gifts on offense that he will have no problem fitting into the offense.  And Kobe Bryant has long admired D'Antoni from his days in Italy.  He'll get plenty of looks with D'Antoni at the helm.

Beyond that core, the Lakers are rather thin.  They do have the assets needed to be able to make moves if necessary, but with Nash around, they have a coach that should be able to maximize their talent on the offensive end.  Defense is another story, but D'Antoni has stated he wants to bring in a "defensive coordinator" of some type to address those concerns and but more focus in on that side of the ball.  Aside from the brief time he spent with Tyson Chandler last season, D'Antoni hasn't had a defensive presence like Dwight Howard holding down the paint.

Obviously, Phil Jackson is Phil Jackson.  He and Kobe have had great success together, and his 11 coaching titles speak for themselves.  But I think D'Antoni makes just as much sense.  And forget the whole "D'Antoni can't win in the playoffs" meme that exists.  I believe D'Antoni can take the Lakers the distance.  Maybe not this year, but certainly within the next four.  The title window is shrinking on this core, but they have a coach that can get them there.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the Los Angeles Lakers this season.

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