Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said the organization hired Mike D’Antoni rather than Phil Jackson as head coach “almost completely” for basketball reasons, countering speculation that Jackson’s lofty contract demands led the Lakers to choose D’Antoni as a secondary option.
“It revolved almost completely around the personnel that we had on the team and the style of play that we saw going forward for the team,” Kupchak said, according to ESPN.com. The story also states that ”Jackson was the first candidate the Lakers met with following the dismissal of Mike Brown on Friday,” but the team never offered Jackson the job.
The Lakers hired D’Antoni on Monday in a move that surprised many after reports surfaced that the team was attempting to woo Jackson out of retirement.
Los Angeles point guard Steve Nash, currently out with a leg fracture, thrived in D’Antoni’s fast-paced, pick-and-roll-heavy offense while the two were with the Phoenix Suns from 2004-08. Kupchak expressed skepticism that the team’s “newer players” would similarly thrive in Jackson’s renowned Triangle offense that won him 11 championship rings, including five with the Lakers.
Although reports said that D’Antoni could hire former Blazers head coach Nate McMillan as an assistant, D’Antoni told the Los Angeles Times that he would only add his brother Dan, while the rest of the staff will remain intact.