LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni late Sunday night, signing the former coach of the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks to replace Mike Brown, according to various sports news organizations and a LA Lakers’ release.
D'Antoni agreed to a three-year deal worth $12 million, with a team option for a fourth season, his agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed late Sunday night for ESPN, and the deal was signed around 11:30 p.m. PST (2:30 a.m. Eastern).
The Lakers will reportedly hold a press conference on Tuesday to announce the hiring for the former Marshall University point guard, who led the Herd to the NCAA Tournament in 1972, finishing with a No. 12 ranking that season and a 23-4 mark under Coach Carl Tacy.
The next season, D’Antoni led the Herd (20-7) to the NIT in 1973 under Coach Bob Daniels, earning back-to-back Academic All-American honors.
He scored 1,227 points in three seasons (15.9 ppg), in the days of freshmen being ineligible, and is second all-time in assists at Marshall with 659, averaging 8.24 assists per game and leading the Herd to a 59-21 mark over three seasons and three head coaches (playing for Stewart Way as a sophomore, and recruited to Marshall by Ellis Johnson).
The former Herd point guard has also been heavily involved in Marshall’s Vision Campaign, raising millions of dollars for the program’s expansion of facilities alongside of Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick and former Marshall, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins quarterback, Chad Pennington.
D'Antoni was one of the top choices to run the 16-time NBA champions, but the decision came only after the club's top brass extensively discussed the job with former Lakers coach, Phil Jackson.
The 11-time NBA champion coach met with Lakers owners Jerry and Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak on Saturday to weigh a return for a third stint on Los Angeles' bench.
Jackson was asking for more authority in all on-court basketball decisions, and apparently did not want to travel with the team to a number of away games.
The Lakers instead went with D'Antoni, a respected offensive strategist who coached Lakers point guard Steve Nash in Phoenix during the best years of their respective careers.
D'Antoni spent five seasons coaching Nash in Phoenix. Nash won two MVP awards while running D'Antoni's signature up-tempo offense, and they won at least 54 games in each of D'Antoni's last four seasons.
D'Antoni was less successful during four seasons in New York, but at least restored the struggling Knicks to a level of competing in the NBA before resigning last March.
D’Antoni was also responsible for “Lin-sanity” when he inserted Jeremy Lin into the line-up, but also apparently clashed with high-priced forward Carmelo Anthony, according to team insiders.
He also was a top assistant for Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA in the last two Olympics, helping the US to back-to-back gold medal finishes.
"Dr. (Jerry) Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak unanimously agreed that Mike was the best coach for this roster at this time," Lakers spokesman John Black said.
The 61-year-old D'Antoni underwent knee replacement surgery earlier this month, and could be physically limited early his tenure.
Black said the Lakers aren't certain when D'Antoni will travel to Los Angeles to begin work and interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff will continue running the Lakers until D'Antoni arrives.
D’Antoni told ESPN he was further along with recovery from the surgery than previously reported.
Los Angeles beat Sacramento, 103-90, on Sunday night, improving to 2-0 under Bickerstaff after a 1-4 start under Brown.
After Brown's dismissal, Nash and Kobe Bryant both expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for D'Antoni, although Bryant also campaigned eagerly for Jackson.
"I love him," Kobe Bryant said of D'Antoni via email to Yahoo's Marc J. Spears early Monday. Bryant wouldn't comment on Jackson.
Bryant’s father played with D’Antoni during his years playing and coaching in Italy, and Bryant wore the No. 8 in his first decade in the league in honor of his new coach.
Sources told ESPN that Jackson's triangle offense was seen as a benefit to Bryant and Pau Gasol, but not as conducive to the rest of the players on the roster — namely Nash and new Lakers’ center Dwight Howard. Another strike against the triangle was the fact that this Lakers team struggled mightily to pick up the similarly complicated Princeton-style offense being instituted by Brown.
A league source indicated late Sunday night that Jackson was "stunned" when the Lakers called to inform him they had chosen D'Antoni. He had been prepared to accept the job Monday if negotiations between his agent and the Lakers went well.
Jackson's agent Todd Musberger had been scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Monday
Jackson and the Lakers had never spoken about a salary, the source said, "but he knew coaches don't make what he used to make anymore."
Jackson, the source said, also never intended to miss any more road games than he had in his previous years with the Lakers.
"Phil would come back only to win and skipping games doesn't lead to winning," the source said.
Part of the current crop of leftovers from Brown's staff are expected to be retained by D'Antoni, along with "one or two" new coaches that he will bring in with him, according to a source.
Two candidates to join D'Antoni are his older brother and longtime assistant, Dan D'Antoni — also a point guard at Marshall, leading the Herd to the NIT “Final Four” in 1967 — as well Phil Weber, another longtime aide.
D'Antoni has a reputation as an offensive-minded coach, although his NBA teams typically have played fairly solid defense, statistically speaking.
The Lakers' next game is Tuesday night against San Antonio. Phoenix visits Staples Center on Friday.
Mike D'Antoni (right) and Russell Lee led Marshall to its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in 1971-72, posting a 23-4 mark under Coach Carl Tacy. Marshall was ranked as high at No. 8 and finished at No. 12 in the nation, beating No. 8 St. John's in triple-overtime at the Cabell Co. Veteran's Memorial Field House to win the trophy for the Marshall Memorial Invitational, 110-107, after the Herd beat Mississippi State in the first round of the tournament named in memory of the 75 persons killed on the Nov. 14, 1970 Marshall football plane crash (returning from East Carolina), players who D'Antoni and Lee roomed and attended class with at Marshall University. (courtesy of Marshall Athletic archieves)
Born: May 8, 1951 (age 61)
Mullens, West Virginia (Mullens H.S.)
Listed height: 6-feet-3
Listed weight: 185-lbs.
College: Marshall University
No. 10 jersey retired
Points: 1,227 (15.9 ppg) 30th all-time
Assists: 659 (8.24 apg) second all-time
Invited to U.S. Olympic Trials 1972
CoSIDA Academic All-American: 1972 and 1973
Awarded NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship: 1973
ABA Senior Draft: 1973 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Selected by the San Antonio Spurs
NBA Draft: 1973 / Round: 2 / Pick: 20
Selected by the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, on pick from the Buffalo Braves via the Detroit Pistons
Pro Playing Career: 1973–1990
Kansas City-Omaha Kings (NBA, 1973–1976)
Spirits of St. Louis (NBA, 1976–1977)
San Antonio Spurs (NBA, 1977–1978)
Olimpia Milano (Italy, 1978–1990)
Career NBA statistics
As Professional Head Coach:
Philips/Recoaro Milano (Italy, 1990–1994)
Benetton Treviso (Italy, 1994–1997)
Denver Nuggets (NBA, 1998–1999; Player Personnel Director 1997-98)
Portland Trail Blazers (NBA, 2000–2001)
Benetton Treviso (Italy, 2001–2002)
Phoenix Suns (NBA, 2003–2008)
New York Knicks (NBA, 2008–2012)
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA, 2012–present)
Career highlights and awards
Italian League Top Point Guard (1990)
5x Italian League titles (1982, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1989)
1x Korać Cup (1985)
2x Cups of Italy (1986 and 1987)
2x Euroleague Championship (1987 and 1988)
1x Intercontinental Cup (1987)
1x Triple Crown (1987)
1x Italian National Team, European Championships (1989)
As a coach:
NBA Coach of the Year (2005)
50 Greatest Contributors in Euroleague History (2008)
Italian League Coach of the Year (1995 and 1997)
2x Italian League titles (Won 1995 and 1997)
1x Cup of Italy (Won, 1995)
1x Korać Cup (Won, 1993)
2x Euroleague titles (1992 and 1995)
Assistant Coach for Team USA (2006-08: 36-1, 2006 FIBA American champions, 2006 FIBA World Champions and 2008 Olympic Gold Medal champions / 2011-12 8-0 Olympic Gold Medal champions)