Lakers To Hire Mike D'Antoni; Phil Jackson's Demands Reportedly Included Stake In Team
Former Knicks and Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, "not Phil Jackson, will be the next coach of the Lakers," according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. Lakers VP/PR John Black said, "We signed Mike D'Antoni to a multi-year deal." Black said Owner Jerry Buss, Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak "were unanimous that Mike D'Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time." The Lakers, who fired coach Mike Brown on Friday, will "introduce their new coach at a news conference as early as Tuesday but more likely later in the week." A source said that Jackson was the "overwhelming favorite to return to the Lakers until they heard his informal demands, which included a stake in team ownership." The source said, "He was asking for the moon" (L.A. TIMES, 11/12). ESPN.com's Shelburne & Stein write the Lakers' decision to hire D'Antoni was "wholly unexpected." Sources said that the Lakers "ultimately couldn't stomach Jackson's contract demands to return, which were believed to include a salary ranging from $10 to $15 million annually, significant say in personnel decisions as well as his eventual replacement along with the ability for the 67-year-old to skip selected road games." A source said that Jackson was "stunned" when the Lakers called to inform him they had chosen D'Antoni. Jackson 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 in to Los Angeles on Monday" (ESPN.com, 11/12).
CONTROL ISSUES: NBA.com's David Aldridge wrote on his Twitter feed, "Phil wanted total control and say over the direction of any franchise he went to, a la Riley/Miami" (TWITTER.com, 11/12). CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Moore writes Jackson's demands were the price Jim Buss "would have to pay to clean up the mess he made when he pushed Jackson out and instilled his own regime which failed like some bad puppet government." But to "surrender to these demands would mean admitting defeat, and it would be giving control of the franchise to someone else." Moore: "That wasn't going to happen" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/12). FOXSPORTS.com's Billy Witz writes if Jackson's deal "fell apart because the Lakers would not meet Jackson's demands, be it more money or more authority in personnel matters, then both sides screwed this up" (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes Jackson is the Lakers' "In-Case-of-Emergency-Break-Glass legend." It would have been Jackson's "third tour with the Lakers, an amazing workplace accomplishment for any coach not hired by George Steinbrenner" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/12). Lakers fans again chanted "We Want Phil!" at Staples Center during last night's game against the Kings (L.A. TIMES, 11/12). ESPN's Chris Broussard: "Lakers know they will take PR hit for choosing D'Antoni over Phil" (TWITTER.com, 11/12).
THE WHEELS ON THE BUSS...: The L.A. TIMES' Bresnahan noted the decision to fire Brown after five games was "reached mutually by the three most important people atop their franchise." But a source said, "Make no mistake, (Jerry) Buss is the ultimate decision-maker" (L.A.TIMES, 11/10). In Newark, Dave D'Alessandro wrote Jim Buss in firing Brown "showed all the foresight of Mr. Magoo." D'Alessandro: "We don’t know Jim Buss. But some peers believe that he is what the media portray him to be: the self-aggrandizing, solipsistic, careless rich kid in a baseball cap who never should have gotten the job over his much smarter sister." While Jerry Buss was "a visionary who handled the big decisions ... the son has succeeded only in making everyone in the organization despise him" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/10). In L.A., Eric Pincus wrote Jerry Buss has "built a legacy on making the right plays, relying often on gut instinct above all." His track record "individually is rivaled only by late-Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach" (LATIMES.com, 11/11).
BROADCAST NEWS: The AP's Tim Dahlberg wrote Brown was "given the hook so quickly it's fair to speculate that perhaps there was some corporate pressure coming" from Time Warner Cable, which "paid some $3 billion for a 20-year deal to broadcast the Lakers" (AP, 11/10). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth asked, "How much of the Lakers pulling the plug on Mike Brown was connected to the panic surge created by DirecTV's resistance to sign up with the new Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Deportes?" Frustration has been "building, building and building from DirecTV subscribers, and they're more and more inclined to lay blame on the Lakers for creating this messy situation and taking gobs of money from TWC for their own edification without all the due diligence needed to make sure everyone would be on board" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/11).