Lakers blow it with hiring of Mike D'Antoni

Why is the next Lakers coach a guy who can't walk without crutches and acknowledged as the second choice?

The Lakers say Jerry Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were unanimous in agreement, you know, in blowing it.

Everyone is so excited.

We’re told it’s 95-5 that Phil Jackson will be the next Lakers’ coach, no one mentioning that the 5% minority happens to be Jerry, Jim and Mitch.

    The Lakers say Jerry Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were unanimous in agreement, you know, in blowing it.

    Everyone is so excited.

    We’re told it’s 95-5 that Phil Jackson will be the next Lakers’ coach, no one mentioning that the 5% minority happens to be Jerry, Jim and Mitch.

    What’s the rush?

    Why is the next Lakers coach, a guy who can’t walk without crutches and acknowledged as the second choice, doing a contract at 11:30 p.m.?

    Were the Lakers afraid D’Antoni might get a better offer elsewhere in the morning?

    This smacks of putting Jackson in his place, as if any place makes more sense than sitting in his Lakers high chair.

    I’m upset. I wanted Phil Jackson. I came to really like the guy after years of sparring. Once, Jackson even paid for dinner.

    He makes the Lakers interesting, exciting and potentially so much better than anyone else could.

    Almost everyone wants Phil. The fans were chanting for him, and I can just imagine Phil hearing it and putting together his list of demands.

    Ask the fans, and the chant at Staples might have turned to, “Give him whatever he wants, give him whatever he wants.’’

    So what happens when reality muddies the waters?

    If he’s asking for $10 million, $12 million, $15 million, what’s the breaking point? I have none --- not my money.

    If he wants a piece of the team, knowing the Buss’ own less than 70% of the franchise, what’s too much? One percent, five, ten? It won’t affect my retirement.

    If he wants more front office control, why not, although I can’t imagine that being the case, knowing his respect for Kupchak.

    If he wants Jim Buss to disappear, I can relate because I have a boss as well, but what if he won’t disappear?

    If Phil doesn’t want to coach all the road games -- and who wants to go to Memphis? -- OK then maybe I start drawing the line.

    But I can’t imagine Phil Jackson not being the Lakers’ coach because no one could agree whether he should go to Memphis or not.

    Come on, guys, just talk it out.

    It’s so simple; I just want Phil back on the bench, and you agree with me. And when is the last time you agreed with me on anything?

    And now that it’s not going to happen, I have to blame someone. That’s how these things work.

    So I go back to the beginning: What’s the rush?

    Why do Jim and Mitch meet Phil on Saturday morning and leave understanding that Phil will need more time. Sources everywhere indicate the job is his if he wants it.

    What changes on Sunday? Why the pressure to do an immediate deal knowing the home schedule can already be managed nicely by Bernie Bickerstaff?

    Maybe the business decision to spend $12 million on D’Antoni for four years makes more sense than spending more than $20 million the next two on Jackson.

    What’s a championship worth?

    Maybe in time we would all agree we wouldn’t give someone a piece of our business to hire someone. Maybe some demands just can’t be met.

    What’s the rush? Negotiations drag on all the time in sports and everyone knows the NBA season really doesn’t get started until Christmas Day.

    Couldn’t talks have continued to Wednesday?

    If Jerry, Jim and Mitch were unanimous in their decision-making, as the Lakers are saying, what were they unanimous about?

    Are they saying D’Antoni is a better basketball fit than Jackson?

    And if they are unanimous, and the general conclusion out there is that Jim Buss is clueless, what does that make Jerry and Mitch?

    Are we to believe not one of the Unanimous Three suggested waiting another day to talk some more?

    No matter how persnickety Jackson might be in wanting what he wants, the Unanimous Three blew it in rushing things.

    I have no problem with the Lakers firing Mike Brown and swallowing a $10-million mistake; how that mistake is corrected is more important now.

    I don’t know about D’Antoni; I do Jackson.

    I also have no problem with the Lakers not having an immediate replacement, knowing how they would be labeled classless for talking to someone else before dismissing Brown. And as you know, Lakers news leaks all the time.

    When they did fire Brown, they already had D’Antonio’s name circled on a short list. They didn’t think Jackson had an interest in coaching, but they called anyway.

    They moved from D’Antoni to Jackson when he took the call. The meeting over, they still pronounced it 95-5 that Jackson would return.

    They also talked to D’Antoni by phone in the event Jackson took the weekend and decided he didn’t want to coach again.

    Sunday afternoon word came it was “70-30,’’ which was expected given Jackson’s mounting leverage to return. Would the Lakers be able to meet all his demands?

    But the sudden, if not impulsive shift from Jackson to D’Antoni, with D’Antoni doing a late-night contract, is now damning if not petty as it appears.

    Did the Unanimous Three opt to put Jackson in his place by quickly shifting to D’Antoni?

    No matter whose feelings were bruised, what was the rush?

    Why not take the time to hire the guy everybody, except the Unanimous Three, understood was really the only guy who should be coaching the Lakers?

    t.j.simers@latimes.com                  

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What’s the rush?

Why is the next Lakers coach, a guy who can’t walk without crutches and acknowledged as the second choice, doing a contract at 11:30 p.m.?

Were the Lakers afraid D’Antoni might get a better offer elsewhere in the morning?

This smacks of putting Jackson in his place, as if any place makes more sense than sitting in his Lakers high chair.

I’m upset. I wanted Phil Jackson. I came to really like the guy after years of sparring. Once, Jackson even paid for dinner.

He makes the Lakers interesting, exciting and potentially so much better than anyone else could.

Almost everyone wants Phil. The fans were chanting for him, and I can just imagine Phil hearing it and putting together his list of demands.

Ask the fans, and the chant at Staples might have turned to, “Give him whatever he wants, give him whatever he wants.’’

So what happens when reality muddies the waters?

If he’s asking for $10 million, $12 million, $15 million, what’s the breaking point? I have none --- not my money.

If he wants a piece of the team, knowing the Buss’ own less than 70% of the franchise, what’s too much? One percent, five, ten? It won’t affect my retirement.

If he wants more front office control, why not, although I can’t imagine that being the case, knowing his respect for Kupchak.

If he wants Jim Buss to disappear, I can relate because I have a boss as well, but what if he won’t disappear?

If Phil doesn’t want to coach all the road games -- and who wants to go to Memphis? -- OK then maybe I start drawing the line.

But I can’t imagine Phil Jackson not being the Lakers’ coach because no one could agree whether he should go to Memphis or not.

Come on, guys, just talk it out.

It’s so simple; I just want Phil back on the bench, and you agree with me. And when is the last time you agreed with me on anything?

 

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