Winners and Losers from Mike D'Antoni to Lakers Hiring
Earlier in the evening, out west, the chants at Staples were, "We want Phil! We want Phil!" as L.A. throttled Sacramento. A return of the Zen Master seemed imminent.
It remains to be seen how the Lakers faithful will react to getting Jackson's mustached rival instead. There's a lot to hash out, and there are many pros and cons in such a surprising decision.
As power shifts from elder Jerry Buss to younger Jim Buss, the Lakers' choices are sure getting more intriguing—not to mention faster, bigger and bolder.
Read on to see the winners and losers from D'Antoni's arrival in L.A.
Loser: Lakers Management
Mike D'Antoni may have been the best coach available, but damned if this doesn't reveal some front-office dysfunction and open the Buss family up for some criticism.
The Lakers were a good offensive team in their first five games under Mike Brown. To chuck Brown for an offensive coach reveals a certain inconsistency of analysis from above.
While D'Antoni may well do wonderful things with this lineup, it looks bad firing a coach after the basketball equivalent of one NFL game. Well, that is unless the new coach is Phil Jackson.
For all we know, D'Antoni is a preferable option to Jackson at this point in their careers. But Lakers HQ is facing a fanbase that doesn't exactly see it that way. Much criticism will fly in Jerry and Jim Buss' direction if this move fails.
Winner: Steve Nash
Steve Nash had the best years of his career under Mike D'Antoni with the Phoenix Suns, and he looked lost at sea in his first two games running the Princeton offense. It's safe to say that Nash will welcome "Seven Seconds or Less" back with a vigorous glee.
Expect Mike D'Antoni to run more pick-and-roll action—Steve's bread, butter and soup. Provided that Nash is healthy, this will shift more of the shots and playmaking duties back into his hands, and possibly away from Kobe's.
This is Nash's one final shot at glory. If he can return to form, it's his offense to run.
Loser: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant may well have cultivated a deep affection for Mike D'Antoni due to his youth spent growing up in Italy, where D'Antoni was a star player. Still, it's hard to see how his arrival will be good for Mr. Bryant.
D'Antoni's hire presages more responsibility for Steve Nash. Even if this isn't so, lost in all the Mike Brown criticism was Kobe's fine play within that Princeton offense.
Bryant cut back on his shots and averaged 56 percent shooting before Brown was given the boot. A shift to a new system may mean a hit to Kobe's efficiency and shot-making opportunities.
In other words: Remember how Carmelo Anthony and Mike D'Antoni worked out?
Winner: The Lakers
In the broader sense, these topsy-turvy, get-rich-quick moves indicate that the Lakers might be in some trouble in the future. But today, if you're choosing among all out-of-work coaches right now, you could do a lot worse than Mike D'Antoni.
You could do a lot worse than Mike Brown too. After firing Brown, Los Angeles had to hire someone. At least this particular someone has playoff experience and a claim to fundamentally changing the very sport.
That's right, D'Antoni's "Seven Seconds or Less" strategy shifted basketball into a game that emphasized threes and pick-and-roll movement. With these new tools, it's possible that D'Antoni can catch lightning in a bottle yet again.
Winner: Dwight Howard
It's tough to determine whether Dwight Howard will be happy about this, especially considering his past history with head coaches. But Mike D'Antoni's arrival should at least help Howard's game should he stay healthy.
This is a pick-and-roll coach meeting the best pick-and-roll big man in basketball. In theory, this should eventually look like highlight reels of the younger Amar'e Stoudemire. But in addition to Steve Nash throwing alley-oops to his agile big man, you will also see cameos from Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
Howard was offensively efficient in the small sample size of Mike Brown's Princeton offense, but this new system should better emphasize his abilities. Expect more rim runs and dunks in D12's future.