LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Sorry, Phil. The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Mike D’Antoni as the new head coach of the purple and gold.
Despite “We want Phil!” chants from the crowd at Sunday’s victory against the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers organization inked a three-year, $12 million deal with D’Antoni late in the night.
The agreement also includes a team option for a fourth season.
D’Antoni’s resume includes past skipper duties with the Phoenix Suns and, most recently, a four-year stint with the New York Knicks.
He was also an assistant coach for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics, coaching Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.
D’Antoni, 61, will reunite with new Laker Steve Nash, whom he coached in Phoenix when the point guard won consecutive Most Valuable Player awards.
“Dr. Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were unanimous that Mike D’Antoni was the best coach for this team at this time,” Lakers Public Relations Director John Black said Monday.
“I think it’s great. I mean coming from Phoenix, I was a huge fan of D’Antoni . . . so his run-and-gun system will be great for the team,” Lakers fan Greg Hernandez said. “I’d like to see Kobe and Nash come together in that system.”
Former Lakers coach and 11-time NBA championship winner Phil Jackson had reportedly been the front-runner to resume the reigns of his ex-team.
According to the Los Angeles Times, talks with Jackson stopped after the Lakers organization heard Jackson’s demands, which included limited away-game travel and a stake in team ownership.
“I love PJ, but I’m very excited about D’Antoni,” Bryant told ESPN early Monday.
Head coach Mike Brown was fired Friday after a disappointing 1-4 start to the 2012-2013 season. Many faulted his Princeton offense.
It is unclear when D’Antoni, who recently underwent knee surgery, will report to Los Angeles and begin coaching the team.
The Lakers are expected to hold a news conference as soon as Tuesday to formally announce their new coach.
The team will face San Antonio at Staples Center Tuesday night with Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff at the helm.