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Lakers Hire Mike D’Antoni

After it seemed like the Los Angeles Lakers were courting Phil Jackson to return as head coach of the team he won so many championships with, the team surprised everyone, making the announcement that they have hired former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni.

Last week, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak had said D’Antoni was in the running, but sources claimed the Lakers were set on Jackson and that is was his job to turn down. Apparently, that was not the case, as the Lakers went with D’Antoni.

According to ESPN, a league source is reporting that D’Antoni signed a three-year contract worth $12 million, with a fourth-year club option. The Lakers organizational leaders, Kupchak, owner Jerry Buss and VP Jim Buss were “unanimous that D’Antoni was the best coach for the team at the time”.

League sources also told ESPN that Jackson himself was stunned when the Lakers called to inform him that they had chosen D’Antoni. He was prepared to accept the job if negotiations between his agent and the organization went well, however they never got the chance to have that meeting that was scheduled for Monday.

D’Antoni is expected to retain much of the current coaching staff, but may bring in one or two new coaches as assistants, including his brother Dan D’Antoni and his longtime aide, Phil Weber.

So, now the question is will D’Antoni be able to get the Lakers to reach those championship-level expectations that were put on them before the start of the season?

D’Antoni has certainly had success with each of the previous two teams he has coached and has experience with new Laker Steve Nash, whom he spent five years with in Phoenix.

“Obviously I think everyone knows how much I love Mike,” Nash said Sunday prior to D’Antoni being hired. “If (D’Antoni) were to coach, it would be seamless and terrific for me, and I think the team as well.”

Nash had success under D’Antoni, winning two MVP awards in the signature fast-tempo offense that D’Antoni established with the Suns. With his style and with the pieces he has in place, there’s no reason to think that the Lakers can’t be one of the top teams in the league.

However, it probably won’t happen overnight. This is still a team that is learning to play with one another and no matter how much talent you have, you need chemistry and teamwork to win games in the NBA. Lakers fans will have to learn to be one thing they usually are not. Patient.

Luckily for them, it’s a long season and the Lakers should turn things around, but as always with them, the egos will have to get along with one another. Shaq and Kobe had their issues with one another at times, but they put that aside and won titles. We will have to see if this team can do the same.

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