The hiring of Mike D'Antoni came as a shock to, well, everybody around the league early this morning. Not only was Phil Jackson surprised, but everybody seemed to be in a conundrum about the timing of the hiring.
Los Angeles' front office made it seem as if the job was Jackson's if he agreed to come back, but they went and hired D'Antoni before Phil got the chance to respond, which was expected at some point on Monday. It's not like Jackson was holding them hostage for a week while he went back to Montana to meditate, he was taking a few days to collect his thoughts and would have responded just hours after they ended up hiring D'Antoni.
I've got faith in D'Antoni's chops as a coach enough to think that he can do well with this team, but the way this all went down is downright puzzling, and almost shady.
D'Antoni gets a lot of flack because he failed to win a title with a great basketball team and his system is accused of not being conducive with playoff basketball, but the circumstances of his losses were strange at times, and it seems to me a few different breaks would have made for a different story.
That's not the big reason why the Lakers are becoming the most unintentionally humorous and intentionally frustrating team in the league. It's the actions of the team's vice president, Jim Buss, that really make this team weird.
A lot of speculation is going to go around about what it was exactly that made the Lakers bypass Jackson for D'Antoni, but the writing seems to be on the wall. This is Jim Buss' team, and he's not ready to give power over to anyone he doesn't approve of.
Right now, the Lakers' PR department is on running the spin cycle in order to put all their faith behind D'Antoni, but it's hard to believe anything they say at this point. Hearing them say that D'Antoni's offensive system fits this team more on the fly (via USA Today) is a legitimate argument, but saying that after it was deemed Phil Jackson's job to lose (according to ESPN) is just trying to clean up a mess.
While the Lakers seem to be in an endless loop of falling face-first into a great basketball team, everything that happens above Mitch Kupchak seems to be based on ego and self-gratification rather than logic and reasoning.
For the past year, the reign of Jim Buss has been an interesting one to say the least.
During the Lakers' coach search that landed them Mike Brown, comments came out that showed discord between Buss and Jackson, and that it was Buss' actions that drove away long-time Jackson assistant Brian Shaw, a guy who was once the presumed replacement for Jackson. Ultimately, the reason Shaw didn't get the job was his close relationship with Jackson.
From there it was Buss' team.
After the 2012 season, Buss reared his head again. Early on in the summer, Buss commented on Andrew Bynum, saying he wouldn't be traded by the time the season started. Of course, we all know how that went down.
Finally, his most recent and most egregious misstep has to be how he handled this entire coaching situation. On November 8th, Buss backed Mike Brown as the coach of the Lakers (at which point he also bashed Jackson's Triangle Offense). Two days later, Brown was fired.
In the course of four days, Buss backed a coach, fired him, news came out that one guy would get the job if he wanted it and then Buss went out and hired somebody else before the first guy could answer.
All that discord, all that egotistical control of a team has to weigh on the rest of the league. They're not a front office that makes a lot of mistakes, but if Buss keeps working his way into the team's everyday business in such an ugly way, things are going to get messy.