Lakers Hire Mike D’Antoni As New Coach, Phil Jackson “Stunned

The Los Angeles Lakers, in a surprising move, announced Monday morning that they have signed former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown as head coach.

A league source said D’Antoni has a three-year deal worth $12 million and that the fourth year is a club option.

D’Antoni’s has a four-year contract, his agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed late Sunday night, several hours after the Lakers beat Sacramento 103-90 for their second straight win under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

The deal was signed around 11:30 p.m. PT Sunday night, a source close to the situation told ESPN. Sources confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that D’Antoni quickly agreed to coach the Lakers after L.A.’s weekend of negotiations to bring back Phil Jackson broke down.

The Lakers said they plan to hold a news conference most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. In a statement released by the team, Lakers spokesperson John Black said team owner 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.”

“I love PJ but I’m very excited about D’Antoni,” Kobe Bryant told ESPN early Monday.

Sources told ESPN that Jackson’s triangle offense was seen as a benefit to Bryant and Pau Gasol, but not as conducive to the rest of the players on the roster — namely point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard. Another strike against the triangle was the fact that this Lakers team struggled mightily to pick up the similarly complicated Princeton-style offense being instituted by Brown.

A league source indicated late Sunday night that Jackson was “stunned” when the Lakers called to inform him they had chosen D’Antoni. He had been prepared to accept the job Monday if negotiations between his agent and the Lakers went well. Jackson’s agent Todd Musberger had been scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Monday

Jackson and the Lakers had never spoken about a salary, the source said, “but he knew coaches don’t make what he used to make anymore.” Jackson, the source said, also never intended to miss any more road games than he had in his previous years with the Lakers.

The plot thickens in LA!

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