The Knicks’ two December games with the Lakers have become a little more interesting.
The Lakers hired former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni as Mike Brown’s replacement. Phil Jackson was considered the favorite to return to coach the Lakers for a third time, but a deal couldn’t be reached. So D’Antoni was given the job.
Multiple reports indicated D’Antoni got a three-year, $12 million contract with a team option for the fourth year.
D’Antoni, 61, had knee-replacement surgery recently. It’s expected he will officially take over the Lakers within a week or two, according to the Los Angeles Times.
That means D’Antoni will be on the bench when the Lakers visit The Garden Dec. 13. The Knicks and Lakers also play each other Christmas Day in Los Angeles.
D’Antoni coached the Knicks for 3 ½ seasons, compiling a 121-169 mark. He parted ways with the Knicks on March 14, after an 18-24 start. D’Antoni and Carmelo Anthony were also clashing due to philosophical differences. D’Antoni’s pick-and-roll offense was working well with Jeremy Lin running the team, but Anthony was more comfortable posting up and in isolations.
Mike Woodson replaced D’Antoni and led the Knicks to an 18-6 record the rest of the way. D’Antoni and Anthony have since spoken and actually proved they can win together. D’Antoni was an assistant on the U.S. Team that Anthony helped to the gold medal over the summer in London.
Before D’Antoni joined the Knicks, he coached the Suns, and enjoyed his greatest success with Steve Nash at point guard. D’Antoni will be reunited with Nash now and coach Kobe Bryant, with whom he has a close relationship.
D’Antoni’s pick-and-roll scheme could be lethal in Los Angeles with Nash running it and Dwight Howard finishing. Until D’Antoni is ready to coach, Bernie Bickerstaff will remain the Lakers’ interim coach. The Lakers fired Brown after a 1-4 start.