Mike D'Antoni Agrees to 3-Year Deal as New Lakers Head Coach

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterNovember 12, 2012

The Los Angeles Lakers have a new head coach, and his name isn't Phil Jackson.

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times was the first to report Mike D'Antoni will be the man to succeed Mike Brown on the bench at the Staples Center:

Source: Mike D'Antoni will be the next coach of the Lakers. Not Phil Jackson.

— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 12, 2012

 

Per Bresnahan, D'Antoni's deal is worth $12 million over three years, with a team option for a fourth. He recently underwent knee replacement surgery and is expected to join the Lakers as soon as he is cleared to do so by his doctors. Once he does, D'Antoni will be installed as the 24th head coach in franchise history.

D'Antoni was last seen on the sidelines with the New York Knicks. He resigned his post after a disappointing 18-24 start to the 2011-12 season amidst rumors that he was forced out by Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

Prior to his time in New York, D'Antoni spent five seasons as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 2005 after leading the Suns to 62 wins and a spot in the Western Conference Finals.

D'Antoni will be reunited in L.A. with Steve Nash, who captained the coach's acclaimed "Seven Seconds or Less" offense on the way to back-to-back league MVPs in 20005 and 2006. Nash has been out of action since October 31 with a slight fracture in his left fibula, but could be back by the end of the week.

Coaching the Lakers will also give D'Antoni an opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard once again. D'Antoni served as an assistant coach on Mike Krzyzewski's staff with Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Bryant and Howard lifted the "Redeem Team" to a gold medal. D'Antoni and Bryant joined forces again in 2012, both figuring prominently into Team USA's success at the London Olympics.

Bryant's connection to D'Antoni actually dates back to his childhood years in Italy. D'Antoni starred for Olimpia Milano in the Italian League, wherein Bryant's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, played professionally. Kobe initially chose to wear the No. 8 in the NBA as an homage to D'Antoni, whom he admired growing up.

Earlier reports had suggested that the Lakers job was Phil Jackson's to lose. However, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN, Jackson's contract demands proved to be too much for the Lakers' brain trust to bear.

D'Antoni arrives with a career record of 388-339 (.533), including a 26-29 (.473) mark in the playoffs.

 

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