Around the World (Wide Web): D’Antoni’s Hire Sparks Debate

Darius Soriano —  November 13, 2012

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los AngelesWith the hiring of Mike D’Antoni complete, the Los Angeles Lakers now have had as many head coaches (three) as they have wins through the first seven games of the season. However, Dwight Howard said after practice Monday that the turbulent times and 3-4 early record will only benefit the Lakers in the long run. “It’s not disappointing,” Howard said when asked if he’s been let down by the rocky beginning to the much-hyped start to his career with the Lakers. “Everything happens for a reason. There’s a reason why we’ve been through so much so early in the season. I think it’s good for our team. It’s good for the chemistry. It’s good for us just to show how strong we are as individuals and as a team.” It’s also a good sign for Lakers’ management that Howard publicly signed off on D’Antoni’s hiring Monday, even though the All-Star center said he wasn’t consulted about the decision over the weekend.

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN.comPhil Jackson said he told Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president Jim Buss that he had “confidence that (he) could do the job” when he met with them about returning to coach the Lakers on Saturday. Jackson then left the meeting with a hand shake and understanding “that (he) would have until Monday (today) to come back to them with (his) decision.” Jackson was prepared to return to the Lakers on Monday morning if negotiations between his agent and the team went well, a league source told ESPN late Sunday night. But before he could do so, Jackson said Kupchak woke him around midnight on Sunday and told him the team had instead signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and “they felt (D’Antoni) was the best coach for the team.”

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: The Lakers are 2-0 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff in part because he stripped down the offense — Kobe Bryant called it “pick-up basketball” But in that offense the Lakers spaced the floor well, made passes and got good looks. As a team they made good decisions and Bickerstaff praised the Lakers for this after the game. (The other factor for being 2-0 was soft competition.) For the same reason Bickerstaff had success Mike D’Antoni could work as the new head coach of the Lakers — his offense is not overly complex and is about attacking, spacing and getting easy buckets. It’s about playing on instinct. It’s an offense that is going to be hard to stop because the Lakers key players can all pass. We saw it in the Lakers win over the Kings — Dwight Howard feeling the double team in the post and whipping a pass to Metta World Peace on the weak side for a wide-open corner three. We know Steve Nash is a fit, Kobe Bryant fits in any offense and D’Antoni will love a complete player like Pau Gasol.

From Bill Plaschke , LA TimesIn the final minutes of practice Monday, the Lakers were playing a pickup game. The rich and gifted athletes were running up and down the gym floor like chaotic children on a playground, gunning and fouling and arguing. They were playing like a team without a coach or a vision, which was appropriate because, at that moment, they had neither. Has it really been less than three years? Was it really just June 2010 when they experienced one of the greatest triumphs in franchise history with a Game 7 NBA Finals victory over the Boston Celtics? Have they really fallen this far, this fast? Less than three years ago, the Lakers were in the discussion of the greatest franchises in the history of American professional sports. Today, they are a drifting, dysfunctional mess. Less than three years ago, Jerry Buss was arguably the best sports owner ever. Today, his declining health, combined with his decision to delegate his power to curious son Jimmy, has left the Lakers looking uncertain, unsettled and increasingly unstable.

From Zach Lowe, Grantland: But a coach can only work with the players on hand, and the Lakers’ roster brings some structural issues — largely outlined here — that were going to challenge whomever the team named as Mike Brown’s in-season replacement. In a shocking reversal, they’ve chosen D’Antoni’s spread pick-and-roll system over the triangle and Phil Jackson, whose salary demands and requests for broader organizational control were apparently too much for the Buss family, per the Los Angeles Times and others. Inking D’Antoni to a three-year deal, with an option for a fourth season, may also be a signal that the Lakers believe his style is a better fit for the only pieces — Steve Nash and Dwight Howard — on the books beyond 2013-14, assuming the Lakers convince Howard to re-sign this summer on a max deal. The other stars, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, are Jackson acolytes and triangle wizards, and Jackson’s 11 rings stand as evidence he may have been the very best choice for the 2011-12 Lakers. If D’Antoni was a second choice, he stands as a very fine one. You know his history with Nash. Those Phoenix teams were not just great offensive squads; they were some of the very best in basketball history. D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant are tight dating to Bryant’s childhood years in Italy, where D’Antoni was an elite player, and now to D’Antoni’s work as a longtime Team USA assistant. Howard may be the most efficient pick-and-roll big man in the world, and the Lakers will now build their offense around Howard and perhaps the greatest pick-and-roll point guard in NBA history. That will drive Bryant into a secondary role, but he has already shown that he can thrive finding easier buckets as an off-ball cutter and post-up beast against weaker defenders. Pau Gasol will find his spots, because he’s Pau Gasol and that’s what he does — all while making everyone else around him better with his next-level passing.

From Kevin Ding, OC RegisterOnce you cut through the mind-bending drama of the Lakers really saying no to Phil Jackson after he brought them five championships in a 10-year span, this boils down to one simple thing: The Lakers see greatness in Mike D’Antoni, too. From the beginning Friday, the Lakers were torn between Jackson and D’Antoni, inclined to believe that D’Antoni might really be the better fit for this team going forward. Only a fool would doubt Jackson’s proven greatness, however, and it’s patently obvious that the atmosphere surrounding the Lakers now upon signing D’Antoni is not the “We’re back” bravado that would’ve roared in with Jackson’s return. D’Antoni’s Lakers will have much to prove – which isn’t all bad. One of the risks involved with Jackson, Part III, was that it has been done before and done before that. Even if Jackson’s mouth was said to be watering at the prospect of returning to coach Dwight Howard, the consistent weakness of Jackson’s Lakers teams was entitlement that often tipped over into complacency.

From Ian Thomsen, Sports Illustrated: The hiring of D’Antoni makes sense for now and for the future. The Lakers should be able to pick up his offense in relatively little time because it was made for Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol should thrive in it and it will create easy baskets for Dwight Howard in transition as well as in the half court. While the Suns won by keeping the middle wide open, D’Antoni has always wanted to develop a style of play around a dominant big man who could also anchor the defense — after all, he asked the Suns to acquire Shaquille O’Neal in 2008. The Lakers’ bench is going to look more impressive under D’Antoni because open shots will be created for players who are capable of making them — Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Chris Duhon and even Darius Morris. Think about how Raymond Felton looked like an All-Star and how Shawne Williams (now seeking employment in the NBA) looked like a keeper while playing for D’Antoni in New York. D’Antoni has a longstanding record of making a half-empty glass look half-full.

From Ben R, Silver Screen & RollWith the entire basketball universe expecting Phil Jackson to reunite with the Lakers and lead them to another championship, that the Lakers took a sudden about face and went with arguably the next best candidate in Mike D’Antoni is, needless to say, a massive surprise. As such, it behooves us to get the elephant in the room out of the way first in that Phil would have been a spectacular hire. The players believed in him, we thought that Phil and Steve Nash could have found a happy medium between the triangle offense and Nash’s traditional domain, and he would have constructed a system that brought success to everyone involved. But make no mistake: D’Antoni is no slouch in this department either. After going through the paces in implementing an offense many feared would restrict Nash’s talents, the Lakers are going with one that unambiguously uses them to their fullest capacity. Under D’Antoni’s auspices, we can expect Nash to beNash once more, and this was what excited the imaginations of Laker fans when we obtained him this past July.

From Vincent Bonsingnore, LA Daily NewsI probably took 50 or more calls from friends and colleagues Friday in the hours following Mike Brown’s dismissal as head coach of the Lakers. I could fund a weekend trip to Las Vegas if I had a dollar for each time I argued in favor of Mike D’Antoni as his replacement over Phil Jackson. I even expressed that sentiment in a column Friday shortly after the Lakers fired Brown, my instincts telling me D’Antoni would better fit the Lakers’ needs for a long-term commitment and an offensive system that enables their current roster rather than disables it. But every time I heard Lakers fans chant “We want Phil!” during games against Golden State and Sacramento this weekend, I cringed thinking the Lakers might cave under pressure and pull Jackson out of retirement to come save them.

-Ryan Cole

Darius Soriano

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to Around the World (Wide Web): D’Antoni’s Hire Sparks Debate

  1. Watch the Spurs tonight and see what we’re going to see from D’Antoni and his offense. I laugh at those who say Lakers aren’t capable of playing with that style. Spurs are not a young team and I see a team which plays it extremely well with INFERIOR players.

    100% behind D’Antoni, I hope the rest of Laker Nation is too!


  2. Phil Jackson wouldn’t be good for Dwight. Learn the triangle and use it during 2 years. Then, a new coach, new roster, new system.

    Better start with an excelent coach like D’Antoni. That will help the transition later.


  3. Magic Phil,

    Sorry for not getting Phil but indeed we have a new system in Mike D’Antoni.

    Whether it is the triangle or the run and gun offense, if the team is not moving forward with the W’s, it is necessary to prepare for contingencies, isn’t it? That’s why there is insurance in our everyday life or life vest in every plane or boat, there is always forward vision installed on “what-if’s” scenarios.

    Lakers got into quagmire when there was no planning in place. It is all reactionary moves from Phil to MBrown and suddenly from MBrown to MD’Antoni. What are the plans of the Lakers after Gasol-Kobe-Nash-MWP? How does this team look like 5 years from now? What if Dwight does not re-sign, what is the next move? These questions should be tackled now so there will be no more midnight appointment surprises. The new technologies were not created overnight, it was planned a long time ago and evolved into finished product today.

    Do Lakers have a five year plan?


  4. Thinking this whole crazy situation through, is there a way to reconcile the two positions regarding PJ? Can it be true that Pj had made no demands yet but that he wanted to humiliate Jim Buss?

    Perhaps management approached the negotiations backwards: Instead of asking Phil’s terms and conditions first (when management could have said thanks Phil but no thanks), PJ manuevered them into giving him the right of refusal with the real talks to come later. But it was known through previous conversations (in Phil’s last tenure, through Jeanie, etc.), that he would have large requirements regarding power issues and coaching duties before he would accept another job.

    At this point on Sunday, someone (Dr. Buss?) woke up and realized that the Monday conversation with Phil would be Phil dictating terms (while anon sources would already have leaked that he accepted the job), and management, because of public support in Lakerland, would be backed into a corner and have to make huge, humiliating concessions to the great PJ, who then rides to the rescue of the floundering Lakers and their inept management.

    So they said no thanks Phil.


  5. I agree with the scribes opinion above that the Mike D’Antoni system looks very appealing for this team.

    However, how we ended up with him is so disrespectful to our legendary Coach who gave us 5 Championship. PJ is proven while Mike D. is still an experiment. It is not good to hurt our brand, our assets as well as our antiquities. They are our treasures for posterity and I consider Phil Jackson as our asset so with the logo, Jerry West and our Cap, Kareem and the other principal players that made the Laker brand famous. Of course, life is not perfect and it all boils down on weaknesses of leaders both present and past.

    Therefore, now that it is one day history, please step back Jim Buss, Phil Jackson and all your cohorts and agents whatever are your issues, please consider the team as our protected brand, the avid purple and gold fans and our city. We are all in this quest for 17th Championship and everybody in Lakerland will be happy in the parade.


  6. The five year plan is win 1-3 championships. That’s about as good as it gets in basketball. You wheel and deal afterwards hoping for another opportunity at the type of success that the Lakers have had over the years. Edwin, I think you should step back and consider how great things are for us Lakers fans.

    We have a great roster, a once in a decade type roster. Yes, a roster with flaws, but flaws that can be overcome. And you’re wanting the FO to secure not only the now, but the five years from now? Under the new CBA? Sure MB didn’t work out, but the FO admitted their mistake and made a strong move to correct the problem. I don’t understand how people can continue to criticize the FO with the type of commitment to winning and willingness to spend that the Buss family has shown. If anything, MB and MDA are both the type of coaches you get for a 5 year plan. MDA is just a little more proven and ready out the box than MB is. What better could they do?


  7. I think the Lakers FO did not handle this case very well from the beginning. After they sign Nash (3yrs not 1 year), they should ask themselve, how do i get the most from Nash ? the answer is P&R offense with Mike D’Antoni. Next step in the summer, ask MB to resign with family reason (like Stan Van Gundy did it with Miami Heat) if you like MB and want to save his face.As a fan we don’t get enough information to know what is going on, but now we know the goal is to win this year,so you can’t install Princeton offense in one year and expect to win championship right away.


  8. Pretty Good Breakdown on how D’Antoni’s system fits the Lakers.


  9. Kareem,

    You said: “You wheel and deal afterwards hoping for another opportunity at the type of success that the Lakers have had over the years.”

    That is a reactionary kind of thinking. You got to have a plan even on paper only, that’s the purpose of the scouts in College and other leagues, the future drafts. the trade machines in putting different scenarios. What you mentioned in your post are Phil Jackson’ accomplishments when he was our Coach. Guess what, we just dumped him with hard fall in lock, stock and barrel of embarrassment in the whole NBA. All I’m saying is that there should be no surprises, whether personnel or coaching or financial viability of the enterprise. All of these are not just wheel and deal gut feeling. The Stock Market is the biggest gambling place around the world and yet, businesses and investors plan of their future placement by studying trends and indices. Lakers is a business.


  10. Edwin,

    I understand where you are coming from, but is there much more than try to win championships? The FO has bounced around a lot the last couple of years, but I think that, to be fair, the Lakers were going through significant change. Add that to the new CBA and I can understand some of the churn. Not sure it will let up, but at least our FO tries to make moves to win, unlike other franchises. Hopefully it all leads to #17.


  11. Teamn: Thanks for the compliment in the prior thread. I often “try” to close most of my debates with a reminder that we are all Lakers : )

    Edwin: I agree with your comments about the Laker brand. Forget who is right and wrong – all of this looks bad. As did the Phil-Jerry West fallout, as did the Shaq-Kobe feud, as did the PJ-Kobe book writing etc., as did the hot/cold relationship with Magic, as did the ill will felt by Kareem. We do not do well in this area and we need to improve. As to your 5 year plan: Good thought – but we are in a 2 year plan league and the Lakers are at the pinnacle of that philosophy (meaning we are lucky to have a one season plan that doesn’t change twice a month). It is what it is. I think/hope we are heading for some consistency now.

    KenOak: The odds of hitting that flush post flop is about 33%. My pre-season odds were 35%. The inside straight on the other hand? : )

    1/2 Decaf: I am agreeing with the commitment to winning (I did question that at one time). Commitment is step 1 but it must be followed by execution. Jerry Jones of the Cowboys has a commitment to winning as well, but there are many who say his meddling cost them their super bowl coach and many chances at success since. Kobe also has a commitment to winning. When he takes that double teamed, turnaround, fade away, it is because he feels it gives us the best chance at winning. Of course in Kobe’s case – he is correct : )


  12. I would take anything that’s ostensibly from Phil Jackson with a grain – nay, a silo – of salt. It’s *always* been his M.O. to wage passive-aggressive psychologial warfare thru the media. We probably overlooked it when he was doing it on our behalf. Given his testy relationship with Jim Buss, I certainly wouldn’t put it past PJ to tweak his nemesis in similar fashion out of spite. I’m not even saying that Phil is fibbing – I flat out don’t know. But I think he knows that he can say whatever he wants to tweak the Lakers brass and they gain absolutely nothing by responding t him.


  13. Just a note. That combo of Goug, Andrew and now Phil is undefeated so far this season. Good old Aaron was right again as clearly they are now hiding all three!


  14. I think we can officially put Plaschke on the “off the deep end” end of the continuum on this story–he really has lost his mind.


  15. @mindcrime: “I think we can officially put Plaschke on the “off the deep end” end of the continuum on this story–he really has lost his mind.”

    Yup. Unofficially it’s been true for a while, but now it’s official. Documented, signed, sealed, committed to the asylum.


  16. Over at PBT, they have a nice article centered on Ding tweets that reasonably shows that Kupchak and the others may really have gone after Phil as a PR move, never really expecting him to want the job, and wanted MDA all along. That’s what I suggested from the beginning, very reminiscent of the Ariza-Artest episode.


  17. Snoopy

    Agreed my source said a week before firing they wanted Mike D. That’s why I posted the firing would happen before weekend and said Mike would be hired by Monday. I was shocked when Phil’s name came up.

    I think it was part PR but more a final stick it to Phil from Jim who has been waiting a long time to pull the hammer.


  18. Neither Phil or MDA shined in their last stints. Can either coach overcome basic team weaknesses; age,weak bench,lack of speed, We`re going to find. out with MDA. The most important question is will the team buy into his system,accept some growing pains,and play hard every night. I`m sure they will like the shorter practices,but that presumes the players do extra work(court and video) on their own. IOW trust them to act like vet pros.