Earlier today, the Lakers made their hiring of Mike D'Antoni official via press release, bringing closure to a bizarre week in Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, the announcement placed a strong emphasis on how D'Antoni's up-tempo offensive philosophy will make for a strong fit for the 2012/13 incarnation of the club.
"After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. [Jerry] Buss, Jim [Buss] and I all agreed that Mike was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward," said GM Mitch Kupchak. "Knowing his style of play and given the current make-up of our roster, we feel Mike is a great fit, are excited to have him as our next head coach and hope he will help our team reach its full potential."
Of course, Phil Jackson was among the top candidates considered for the position, and, from the outside, it appeared that the job would be his if he wanted it. It turns out that this was the perception from the inside as well, as Jackson claimed earlier tonight that he was told he was offered the job and would have until today to accept. Instead, Jackson was woken up at midnight by a phone call from Kupchak who informed him that D'Antoni would instead take the reins on a three-year deal.
D'Antoni and Jackson were obviously the top two choices for the Lakers gig and it doesn't appear that the club went any further down their list. Former Blazers coach Nate McMillan was viewed as a possible candidate, but was reportedly never contacted by the club. Same goes for longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who said that he would not lobby for the job without first hearing from Kupchak & Co.
The Lakers are hoping that a reunion between D'Antoni and starting point guard Steve Nash will allow the team to fulfill its vast potential, but there are plenty of question marks when it comes to the former Knicks and Suns head man. While D'Antoni-led teams are known for delivering high-octane offense, they tend to be less-than-tenacious on the other side of the floor, to put it mildly. Having center Dwight Howard to control the low-post should be a major boost to the club, but it's fair to wonder if they'll be playing quality D while putting up shots in seven seconds or less on offense.