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Lakers turn to D'Antoni

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Nov 12 2012 11:03:02 AM CST
Mike D'Antoni, NBA coach

Mark Blinch/Reuters

Mike D'Antoni was hired as head coach of the Lakers on Sunday, ending two days of speculation that Phil Jackson might serve a third term as head coach in Los Angeles.

D'Antoni received a three-year deal worth $12 million and includes a team option after a phone interview Saturday, the day the Lakers met for an extended face-to-face session with Jackson, the 11-time NBA championship coach who reportedly made steep contract demands that included restricted travel and upfront money.

D'Antoni doesn't have a sparkling postseason resume -- he's never coached in the NBA Finals -- but his reputation as an innovative offensive mind made him an attractive fit for a team trying to move far from the slow-paced Princeton offense coach Mike Brown implemented.

Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff could remain at the head of the Lakers bench for Tuesday's game at Staples Center against the Spurs. D'Antoni had knee surgery weeks ago and doesn't have full mobility.

Bickerstaff won his first two games since a 1-4 start led to Brown's dismissal Friday.

D'Antoni's offense thrives at a fast-breaking pace and values shots over possessions. Both Kobe Bryant, who grew up in Italy watching D'Antoni play in that country's pro league, and point guard Steve Nash -- to date, D'Antoni's star pupil and a boisterous admirer of his offensive style and approach to coaching -- were consulted by general manager Mitch Kupchak and team owner Dr. Jerry Buss.

Jackson, 67, coached the Lakers to seven NBA Finals in 11 seasons in Los Angeles.