Lakers go with D’Antoni as replacement for Brown
el segundo, calif.
Pau Gasol got home from the game and read about it on Twitter, while Dwight Howard got a midnight message on his BlackBerry. They shared most Los Angeles Lakers fans’ mix of surprise, trepidation and anticipation.
Just when everybody thought the Lakers were getting back together with Phil Jackson, they switched course in the middle of the night and went with Mike D’Antoni.
What a weekend in Hollywood — and the real drama isn’t over yet.
The Lakers reacted with ample excitement and a little bewilderment Monday to their front office’s surprising decision to hire D’Antoni as coach Mike Brown’s replacement over Jackson, the 11-time champion who discussed the job at his home Saturday and apparently wanted to return. D’Antoni didn’t even interview for the job in person, speaking to the Lakers over the phone.
“It has been crazy, but all this stuff will just make this team stronger,” said Howard, who has been in a Lakers uniform for about six weeks. “Everything that we’ve been through so far, it’s going to make us stronger, and we have to look at this as a positive situation.”
The Lakers’ third coach in four days won’t take over the team until later in the week. D’Antoni still hadn’t been cleared to travel Monday after undergoing knee replacement surgery earlier in the month, although the Lakers are optimistic the former Knicks and Suns coach will arrive in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
So interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff was still in charge Monday when the Lakers gathered for an informal workout ahead of today’s game against San Antonio. Just two weeks into the regular season, the Lakers (3-4) are about to start over with a new offense and another coaching staff — and a renewed certainty they’re expected to compete for a title this season.
“It’s been a zoo,” said forward Antawn Jamison, a 15-year NBA veteran who played for D’Antoni on a U.S. national team. “But as I was telling somebody, it’s just a typical day here in L.A. It’s interesting. ... It should be a lot easier to adjust to than the system we were trying to get adjusted to early on in the season.”