In nothing short of a staggering twist of events, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported that the Lakers had spurned Phil Jackson in favor of D’Antoni.
Mike D’Antoni signed a four-year deal with the Lakers. Phil Jackson was “asking for the moon,” accoring to source familiar w/ the situation.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 12, 2012
Yes, the same Jackson who has 11 championship rings to his name was passed over in favor of a coach that has never even tasted the delicacy that is an NBA Finals appearance. And you know what? I’m OK with that.
Los Angeles had its reasons for moving on from Jackson. For one, it was time. This franchise needs to move on from the Jackson era and understand that he cannot be the “savior” forever. Mostly, though, this was about business and Jackson’s overwhelming list of demands. If I had to place a wager, I’d bet Jackson essentially negotiated himself out of the job.
But that’s neither he nor there. What we’re here to talk about is the coach the Lakers did hire, and what he can do for this team.
In seven tries D’Antoni has never won an NBA championship. But guess what? I don’t care. He’s still a talented coach who receives far too much criticism for his lack of defensive awareness. I understand his sets could be better and that he could place more of an emphasis on it, yet at the same time, that’s why an assistant coach like Nate McMillan would be perfect.
The fact is, I don’t care who you are, you don’t make it to the NBA as a coach without knowing how to coach defense. End of story.
Also, while D’Antoni’s teams have not played well on the defensive end, he’s never had access to a strong defensive presence like Dwight Howard. The most talented defender he’s ever coached is Tyson Chandler with the New York Knicks only last season and the ‘Bockers rose to the top-11 in points allowed last season.
But that was all Mike Woodson, D’Antoni had nothing to do with that, right?
That’s what everyone would like you to believe, but it just isn’t the case. The fact is that for the first time in his coaching career, D’Antoni had a stalwart defender within his rotation. Sure, Woodson helped preach defense, but these results are more driven by defensive talent than coaching philosophy.
And potential defensive deficiencies aside, D’Antoni’s offensive system has never yielded less than 102 points per game over the course of his career. Now how about that?
But no one wants to focus on that. Let’s just focus on the fact that he’s never won a championship—like most of his coaching peers.
Well, I’m sorry, but that can’t be a deal breaker.
Truth be told, the Lakers are going to be fine with D’Antoni. He’s an offensive genius who coached Nash to two MVP awards and he’s also the man behind Team USA’s offensive success as well at the Olympics.
So don’t think for a minute the Lakers settled here. Say what you want about his resume, but D’Antoni belongs in the NBA. And say what you will about the Lakers being too old to run his offense, but know that you’re wrong.
Because before you know it, D’Antoni will have this team running like a well-oiled offensive machine.
One that is more than capable enough of making a legitimate championship run.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.