Restless is right! In what has become “Dramaville,” the Lakers latest soap opera episode has the executive team of Mitch Kupchek (General Manager) and Jim Buss (Executive Vice-President), pursuing former Lakers coach and 11-time NBA championship title winner, Phil Jackson, only to “go in another direction” by hiring coach Mike D’Antoni. Reports have it that the Lakers’ executives met with Jackson regarding the head coaching job on Saturday, with Jackson needing until Monday to make his decision. What happened between that meeting and the hiring of D’Antoni 24 hours later is anybody’s guess.
According to Kupchek, he gave the Lakers’ Hall of Fame coach forewarning. “Phil I have a job to do and I’m going to have to continue my search and interview candidates,” Kupchak recalled saying. “He nodded that he understood.” Jackson’s account is a little different; “We concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday to come back to them with my decision,” Jackson said in a statement. “I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job.” Kupchak said they decided to hire D’Antoni at 6 p.m, before embarking on a 6 hour session that involved negotiating the deal and faxing the contract to and from D’Antoni’s New York City residence. Kupchak then called Jackson with news he hadn’t expected to hear. The question that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind is; why couldn’t Kupchek and company wait until Monday before hiring D’Antoni? He certainly wasn’t going anywhere (he’s sitting at home out of a job since quitting in New York last season) What was the urgency to hire a non-championship-winning coach, instead of waiting another 24 hours for a coach who almost certainly would win another championship with this current Lakers’ roster? There’s something rotten in Lakers-land.