Lakers hire Mike D'Antoni as new coach
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Mike D'Antoni, signing the former coach of the Suns and Knicks to a four-year contract to replace Mike Brown.
The Lakers and D'Antoni's agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed the deal late Sunday night, two days after the Lakers fired Brown five games into the season.
D'Antoni got the high-profile job running the 16-time NBA champions after negotiations broke down with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. The 11-time NBA champion coach spoke to the club's top brass Saturday about a return.
Lakers owners Jerry and Jim Buss instead went with D'Antoni, who spent five seasons coaching Lakers point guard Steve Nash in Phoenix. Nash won two MVP awards while running D'Antoni's signature up-tempo offense, and they won at least 54 games in each of D'Antoni's last four seasons.
D'Antoni then coached New York for the past four seasons, resigning last March after a largely unsuccessful tenure featuring just one playoff appearance and no postseason victories.
Nash and Kobe Bryant both expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for D'Antoni, although Bryant eagerly campaigned for a third stint for Jackson on the Lakers' bench. Bryant idolized D'Antoni while growing up in Italy, where D'Antoni was a star player in the Italian league.
D'Antoni underwent knee replacement surgery earlier this month and could be limited in his mobility and travel for the first few weeks of his tenure in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times first reported D'Antoni's hiring, several hours after the Lakers beat Sacramento 103-90 for their second straight win under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
The Lakers have improved to 3-4 after following up their winless preseason with four losses in their first five regular-season games, the club's worst start since 1993.
Brown was fired after the Lakers stumbled badly out of the gate, struggling to learn his Princeton-inflected offense and playing mediocre defense.
D'Antoni has a reputation as an offensive-minded coach, although his NBA teams typically have played fairly solid defense, statistically speaking.
The Lakers' next game is Tuesday night against San Antonio. Phoenix visits Staples Center on Friday.
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