x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

NBA: Lakers land Mike D'Antoni as replacement for fired coach Mike Brown

The former New York and Phoenix coach was hired for the Los Angeles vacancy over former coach Phil Jackson, and will be reunited with former protege Steve Nash.

Mike D'Antoni is to take over as Los Angeles Lakers coach
Mike D'Antoni is to take over as Los Angeles Lakers coach

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired former New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni to replace fired Mike Brown.

The Lakers and D'Antoni's agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed the deal after the Lakers fired Brown five games into the season.

D'Antoni has signed a three-year deal with the 16-time NBA champions, with an option for a fourth season.

Lakers owners Jerry and Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak had met with former coach Phil Jackson on Saturday to discuss a return for a third stint on Los Angeles' bench, but then went for D'Antoni - who coached Lakers point guard Steve Nash during five seasons in Phoenix.

Nash won two MVP awards while running D'Antoni's signature up-tempo offence for the coach's final four seasons, when they won at least 54 games each season and reached two Western Conference finals.

D'Antoni then coached New York for the past four seasons, resigning last March after a largely unsuccessful tenure featuring just one playoff appearance and no postseason victories. He also coached the Denver Nuggets during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.

Nash and Kobe Bryant both have expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for D'Antoni, although Bryant also campaigned eagerly for Jackson. Bryant idolised D'Antoni while growing up in Italy, where D'Antoni was a star player for Olimpia Milano in the Italian pro league.

The Lakers reached a deal with D'Antoni several hours after they beat Sacramento 103-90 for their second straight win under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

The Lakers have improved to 3-4 after following up their winless preseason with four losses in their first five regular-season games, the club's worst start since 1993.

Despite his reputation for offensive acumen, D'Antoni's NBA teams typically have played fairly solid defence, statistically speaking - and they never had the imposing Howard or defensive stopper Metta World Peace in their line-ups.

Nash had his best NBA seasons as the versatile quarterback of the Suns' offence under D'Antoni, and point guard Jeremy Lin became a star on the Knicks last season while filling much the same role. D'Antoni resigned late last season following a six-game losing streak, surprising many observers.

However, the new coach's role could be limited in the first few weeks after he underwent knee replacement surgery earlier this month.

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