It appeared that Phil Jackson was so close to ironing out a deal to become the Lakers’ head coach that his agent planned to fly to Los Angeles on Monday to hammer out a deal, according to a league source who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Instead, the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown as the team’s head coach, a move that left one source close to Jackson “surprised” about the decision.
The reaction goes beyond the person’s relationship with Jackson. The Hall-of-Fame coach, who won five of his 11 NBA championships in two separate stints with the Lakers, visited general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss Saturday. The Lakers publicly indicated a followup meeting would happen within a couple days.
Meanwhile, plenty of Lakers fans serenaded Staples Center with “We Want Phil” chants during the team’s regular-season games Friday and Sunday against the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, respectively. Jackson also received plenty of public endorsements, ranging from Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash.
“It’s just strange and peculiar that you would leak and build a crowd up about wanting him and having players coming forth and endorsing him and then go the other way,” the source close to Jackson said. You got the people working for you saying one thing and then doing another. I’m surprised.”
The Lakers have declined to comment on what contributed to Jackson getting passed over for the job. Sources close to Jackson said he was concerned about the taxing NBA schedule, though it was by no means a deal breaker. Meanwhile, Kupchak maintained during a press conference on Friday that they would interview an unspecified number of candidates beyond
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