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Lakers picks D'Antoni as new head coach

Updated: 2012-11-13 10:09
( Agencies)

LOS ANGELES - With most of their fans demanding the return of Phil Jackson, the Los Angeles Lakers sprang a surprise on Monday by naming former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni to replace Mike Brown.

Lakers picks D'Antoni as new head coach

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni gestures during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Texas in this March 6, 2012 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Hall of Fame coach Jackson, the 11-time NBA championship winner, had been widely expected to come out of retirement to lead the Lakers for a third time but the Lakers instead opted for the offense-minded D'Antoni.

According to the Los Angeles Times, talks with the heavily favored Jackson broke down after the veteran coach made significant demands, including a stake in team ownership.

Jackson, 67, compiled a 1,155-485 record in 20 NBA seasons, winning six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan followed by five more in two separate stints with the Lakers.

D'Antoni, 61, has signed a three-year deal for $12 million, with the Lakers holding an option for a fourth year, local media reported.

"Lakers owner Dr Jerry Buss, executive vice-president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak were unanimous that D'Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time," Lakers spokesman John Black said in a statement.

D'Antoni is expected to be formally introduced as the 24th Lakers head coach this week, most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday, Black added.

"Knowing his style of play and given the current make-up of our roster, we feel Mike is a great fit, are excited to have him as our next head coach and hope he will help our team reach its full potential," Kupchak said.

While the possibility of Jackson's return as coach had thrilled Lakers players and fans, D'Antoni is held in high esteem by All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

"Obviously I think everyone knows how much I love Mike," said Nash, who played four seasons under D'Antoni in Phoenix. "If he were the coach, it would be seamless and terrific for me, and I think the team as well."

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