So much for a Phil Jackson-Lakers reunion.
Despite reports and rumors saying that Jackson was the front-runner to land the Lakers’ head coaching position, it was former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni that received got the job. All signs pointed to Jackson and almost everyone expected that he would return to the Lakers’ bench.
However, sources say the Lakers felt that Jackson was asking for too much in his return and that the team believed D’Antoni’s system was a better fit for the roster. ESPN Los Angeles also reports that the 11-time champion was “stunned” when the Lakers gave D’Antoni the job instead of him.
When the Lakers called to tell Jackson that they had instead chosen Mike D’Antoni to be their next head coach, he was “stunned,” according to the source, because he had been under the impression “it was his job to turn down,” although no formal offer had ever been made.
D’Antoni already has a great deal of experience with Steve Nash, and he is familiar with Kobe Bryant as assistant coach of the USA Basketball team. His offensive system is one of the best in the league and with this roster, the Lakers will be a force on that end of the court.
Even though many people criticize D’Antoni for his lackluster defensive schemes, there is reason to believe he will focus a great deal on improving on defense.