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Mentz’s Minute: Hiring D’Antoni a fair move for Lakers

November 15th, 2012

The past week in Laker Land has been hectic, to say the least.

This exact time last week, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was the head coach of the struggling Los Angeles Lakers. Brown was obviously under fire due to his team’s lowly 1-4 start, but while media and fans alike criticized him, it seemed to be understood that Brown wasn’t quite in jeopardy of losing his job (yet). After all, despite being 1-4, the Lakers were only five games into the season.

And then the news broke. Brown had been ousted as the Lakers coach, and numerous names began to float around as possible candidates for the position. By the time last Saturday night had come around, it seemed likely to NBA executives and media members that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson would again return to the City of Angels for a third stint.

And then the news broke, again. Lakers owner Jerry Buss and the front office had decided to go in a different direction, opting instead to hire former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni.

As soon as Brown was relieved of his duties as Lakers coach, many clamored and pleaded for the “Zen Master” to return once again and save the floundering Lakers. While reports have indicated that Jackson was prepared to accept the Lakers’ offer, he didn’t bite soon enough.

Let me be clear: Mike D’Antoni is no Phil Jackson. He’s not even close. But D’Antoni is a very good coach in his own regard and is certainly a step up from Mike Brown.

D’Antoni will come into the new position already having the respect of Steve Nash, who thrived by winning two MVPs in D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less” offense during their time together in Phoenix. D’Antoni also commands the respect of Kobe Bryant, as Bryant grew up admiring D’Antoni during his playing days in Italy.

D’Antoni, who resigned as the Knicks coach on March 14, is known for his use of the pick and roll offense. Now he has the two best pick and roll players in the league to run it with in Nash and Dwight Howard. D’Antoni is also criticized for his lack of emphasis on defense, but considering he has the NBA’s best defender, Howard, as well as Metta World Peace (a former Defensive Player of the Year) and Bryant (a nine-time All-Defensive first teamer), something tells me that will change.

The Lakers were also looking for a long-term head coach, rather than a maximum two-year deal with Phil Jackson. Hiring the “Zen Master” obviously would have been like buying a $100,000 Ferrari, but they can’t exactly complain with having a $50,000 Mercedes as a consolation prize.

Follow @ZachMentz on Twitter or email him at  zmentz14@jcu.edu