Mitch Kupchak: Lakers ‘clumsy’ informing Phil Jackson of Mike D’Antoni hire
The Los Angeles Lakers took a lot of heat for a number of reasons when they chose to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson last season. For starters, Jackson is a legend in LA and he was clearly interested in returning to the team he coached to five NBA titles. In addition, most people felt he would be the best candidate to get the most out of Dwight Howard.
Instead, the Lakers made a surprise move and went with D’Antoni. In fact, it was so much of a surprise that the way they handled it became as much a source of criticism as the move itself. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak addressed that in an interview with ESPN Radio earlier this week.
“There was really no other way to get around it,” Kupchak said, via the LA Times. “In this business you don’t make announcements until you have signed contracts. The last thing we wanted was for Phil Jackson, who we love in the organization, the city loves him, to wake in the morning or to get a phone call from somebody at 4 or 5 in the morning saying, ‘Guess what? Didn’t Mitch tell you?'”
After defending the way things went down, Kupchak admitted the team could have handled it differently.
“Really there was no other way to do it, and you could say it was clumsy,” he added.
There is no doubt the Lakers could have approached the situation with a bit more grace. It took enough to convince Jackson to come out of retirement to begin with, so pulling the offer was shocking. Doc Rivers felt that they embarrassed Jackson with the way it played out and Charles Barkley agreed. We’ll find out this upcoming season if the decision was worth it.