Mike D'Antoni, and not Phil Jackson, is the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. D'Antoni reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Lakers worth $12 million with an option for a fourth year.
The Lakers entered the season with high hopes after obtaining Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the off-season, but fired previous head coach Mike Brown on Friday after the team got off to a 1-4 start.
Hiring D'Antoni came as a surprise to many, including Jackson, who seems to have thought that the job was his to lose. Lakers management at one time said there was a 95%-5% chance that Jackson would return for his third stint at the Lakers' head coach.
Jackson has won 11 NBA championships, more than any other coach. D'Antoni has yet to lead a team to the NBA finals. Jackson has the trust and the respect of his players. D'Antoni lost his last locker room in New York.
The Lakers are saying Jackson wanted too much — including an ownership stake and too much control over team decisions — but we suspect it has more to do with his strained relationship with Jim Buss, who is taking control of the team from his father, Lakers owner Jerry Buss.