NBA AM: Lakers Sign D’Antoni, Not Phil Jackson
D’Antoni, Not Jackson: Just when it seemed that Monday would bring an announcement that Phil Jackson would be re-joining the Los Angeles Lakers, the franchise went in a different direction signing former New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni to a four-year deal.
According to numerous reports, Jackson had a long list of demands before he’d accept the head coaching job, and while both sides say the demands were never the issue, it’s clear that the Lakers, namely team president Jim Buss, was unwilling to meet those demands and opted for D’Antoni instead.
One of Jackson’s alleged demands was not only to skip certain road games and shootarounds, but that he wanted contractual say in how his team was constructed and wanted some level of power and control over the team. There have been some reports suggesting that Jackson also sought an ownership stake in the team as part of his deal.
The Lakers contend that D’Antoni is the better fit on a number of levels, and he’ll come slightly cheaper than Jackson’s $10 million per season asking price – D’Antoni’s deal is a three-year agreement worth $12 million with a team option on a fourth year. The fact that D’Antoni would take the job without many conditions made him the lower maintenance of the two.
D’Antoni had knee replacement surgery several weeks ago and is not yet cleared to fly, although that’s not expected to be a long-term hindrance and does not appear to be a factor in the Lakers process.
Interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff won another game last night bringing the Lakers to 3-4 on the season and three games back from first place. The Lakers have an off-day in the schedule and will face the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. The Lakers have four more home games before heading out on a three-game road trip.
The Lakers are expected to make the D’Antoni announcement official, although a team spokesperson has already confirmed the signing. All that’s left is a formal introduction and that may happen on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Its never too early to talk NBA Draft. The 2013 NBA Draft is 227 days away and Yannis Koutroupis filed his first NBA Mock Draft yesterday. And in case you missed it, check out the Top 100 Prospects, powered by DraftExpress .
Wes Likes The Fit: Suns forward Wes Johnson isn’t seeing much floor time in Phoenix. That’s not altogether surprising considering he is again behind Michael Beasley on the depth chart and playing behind Jared Dudley from the bench. Even with a clouded role in Phoenix, Johnson told HOOPSWORLD he is enjoying the situation and that the fit is very good, he just needs his opportunity.
MarShon, The Sixth Man: Last year MarShon Brooks was a focal point of the Brooklyn Nets’ offense. He had the ball in his hands and was asked to create, not only for himself but for his teammates. With so many changes to the roster this past off-season, Brooks who was a featured part of the team, is now adjusting to life as the sixth man.
“It’s a lot different, last year the team kind of needed my scoring, needed my play-making ability, this team is a little different,” Brooks told HOOPSWORLD. “I don’t have to create for this team to be well. It’s changed a lot because I had the ball in my hand last year a lot more than I do this year, so I’m just trying to learn other parts of the game that’s actually going to help me out a lot in my career.”
Brooks said the team talked with him about some of the changes this past summer, so he knew what to expect.
“It’s a different situation for me,” said Brooks. “Coach came to me, even before the trade for Joe Johnson and said, ‘We’re thinking of moving you to the sixth man’ because I’m more effective with the ball in my hands. When Deron Williams is on the court and Brook Lopez is on the court, they need the ball. I feel like it’s worth it, I’ve been more efficient this year.”
“I know I’m not going to be in the game 10-12 minutes at a time, so when I do get out there I need to make sure I make the most out of my minutes.”
Brooks started his career in New Jersey and says the move to Brooklyn has expanded his world tremendously.
“It’s a big difference,” explained Brooks. “There’s a lot of energy as far as the crowd. Obviously, the media in New York is a lot different than New Jersey. Can’t hide in Brooklyn; just a lot more attention on and off the court.”
For some players the new bigger market and increased media scrutiny could prove as a distraction.
“It’s not a distraction,” explained Brooks. “I think every player wants that, being in the spotlight. We got a better team this year, that’s part of the reason with signing Joe Johnson and guys like Andray Blatche. That’s going to bring the attention along, you get higher expectations.”
Brooks wants to have an impact this season and knows that for him to have a role he’s got to do more than he did last year and that was something he worked on a lot in the offseason, specifically getting stronger.
“My strength has helped me out in a lot of different ways,” explained Brooks. “My strength has helped me get to the rim a lot easier, bust through screens. The defensive end as well when guys try to post me up, last year it was a lot easier for the opponent to get me where they wanted me. I’ve been putting in a lot of work in the weight room, I feel like there’s a little more resistance. Just finishing around the rim, I’ve done a much better job of finishing around the rim, creating fouls and stuff.”
Brooks has started to earn a reputation as a suspect defender and says while he’s made progress in that department, that’s his next big challenge; to become a stopper on defense.
The Nets are 3-2 on the new season, which is good enough for sixth best in the East. If the Nets are going to seriously contend in the postseason, they are going to need guys like Brooks to realize their potential quickly, because the East isn’t getting easier.
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