NBA Rumors: Lakers Organization Shows Panic with Handling of Coaching Change

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni gestures during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Mike D'Antoni isn't a terrible hire for the Los Angeles Lakers, but the organization handled the situation completely wrong.

Phil Jackson's statement on Monday (via ESPN's Jim McMenamin) shows exactly why:

"I did not solicit or ask for the opportunity, but I welcomed both he and Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as the head coach. We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a hand shake and an understanding that I would have until Monday (today) to come back to them with my decision."

That's just a portion of it. Jackson also states that he found out from Mitch Kupchak via phone call Sunday night.

The Lakers obviously have their reasons for signing D'Antoni to replace Mike Brown. His run-and-gun offense fits Steve Nash's point guard play to a tee. The familiarity between Nash and D'Antoni, by itself, is a reason to bring him into the fold.

But that doesn't mean Kupchak and the Lakers' front office had to throw Jackson under the bus. The organization may not feel like they owe him anything, but five NBA championships would say differently. The Zen Master is a legend, and he was treated like a dog.

Los Angeles panicked. Signing D'Antoni to a three-year deal ensures some stability for the future, but what about right now? It's like the former Suns and Knicks coach was so giddy to jump on board that his energy rubbed off on the L.A., and it just couldn't resist commencing a deal right then and there.

Maybe I value someone's word more than I should, or maybe Jackson is embellishing what really happened between the two sides, but this shouldn't have happened this way.

The Lakers didn't want to wait. It wasn't because D'Antoni was the best man for the job, but because the organization caved under pressure from the fans and the media. 

It's hard to picture a better candidate for the job based on personnel. You can go back and forth on the strengths and weaknesses of D'Antoni's no-defense system and Jackson's triangle offense, but The Zen Master's track record speaks for itself.

Jackson has won multiple championships with the Lakers. That shouldn't make him an automatic rehire, but it does mean that he should command some respect.

Instead, the Lakers dismissed him with a false timeline and a late-night phone call, making themselves look very bad in the process.