Mike D’Antoni, not Phil Jackson, will be the next coach of the Lakers.
“We signed Mike D’Antoni to a multi-year deal,” Lakers spokesman John Black said, mentioning the team’s owner and top two executives. “Dr. [Jerry] Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were unanimous that Mike D’Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time.”
D’Antoni, 61, coached the New York Knicks last season and the Phoenix Suns before that. He will officially take over the Lakers within a week or two, depending how quickly he recovers from knee-replacement surgery.
The Lakers will introduce their new coach at a news conference as early as today but more likely later in the week. Bernie Bickerstaff will remain the team’s interim coach for now.
D’Antoni signed a three-year deal for $12 million. The team holds an option for a fourth year.
Jackson was the overwhelming favorite to return to the Lakers until they heard his informal demands, which included a stake in team ownership, according to a person familiar with the situation.
“He was asking for the moon,” said the person, who also declined to be identified because they are not authorized to discuss the situation.
The Lakers then moved quickly to sign D’Antoni. He replaces Mike Brown, who was fired Friday after the Lakers began the season 1-4, their worst start since 1993.
Earlier Sunday, Lakers guard Steve Nash said it would “be a coup” for the Lakers to bring back Jackson, but he also had kind words for D’Antoni.
“Obviously, I think everyone knows how much I love Mike,” said Nash, who played four seasons and won two MVP awards under D’Antoni in Phoenix. “If he were the coach, it would be seamless and terrific for me, and I think the team as well.”