It’s almost fitting that Mike D’Antoni took over the Lakers today wearing crutches. Nobody thinks the Lakers made a wise move in hiring the former Knicks and Suns coach over Phil Jackson and it’s pretty hard to disagree when you look at the evidence.
D’Antoni has a career record of 388-339 in the NBA, a respectable but unspectacular .534 winning percentage. If you want to bet on the Lakers you can click here for NBA wagering. He was named Coach of the Year with Phoenix back in 2004-05, but he’s never won an NBA title in 10 seasons behind the bench.
Worse yet, while D’Antoni is known as an offensive genius, he also has a reputation for putting teams on the court that are indifferent about the defensive side of the game. Let’s face it, as much as offense may help your team make Sports Center, it’s defense that wins championships, even in the NBA.
In D’Antoni’s last job, he was let go by the Knicks in mid-season when his two best players, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, essentially decided they didn’t want to play for him anymore because his system didn’t fit their style or fulfill their need to take all the shots they felt they were entitled to.
Whether Anthony and Stoudemire were right or not, the fact remains that the Knicks were 18-24 under D’Antoni and 18-6 under his successor, Mike Woodson.
While there is reason enough to criticize D’Antoni’s mixed record, the fact that the Lakers were negotiating with Phil Jackson just makes it even worse for Los Angeles. According to Jackson, Lakers’ management had given the Hall of Fame coach until Monday to decide if he wanted to return as coach but then signed D’Antoni before Jackson had a chance to respond.
Jackson’s resume speaks for itself. The Zen Master has won 11 NBA titles as a coach after winning a pair as a role player on the 1970 and 1973 Knicks. His career winning percentage is .704 with an impressive 1,155-485 record which includes 17 seasons of 50 or more wins out of 20 campaigns behind the bench.
Jackson is considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time. Simply put, isn’t it worth waiting an extra day or two if you can have a legend coach your team rather than rushing into a deal with a pretty good coach with has flaws in his game and has never won a title?
The Lakers will have a hard time explaining this decision unless D’Antoni manages to win a title with the club in the next year or two. The way this Lakers team is constructed, that doesn’t look all that likely. It’s only a matter of time before fans start asking questions that management won’t have any good answers to.