Phil Jackson doesn't even pretend to think too highly of Mike D'Antoni. He's kept his opinion to himself about the Lakers embattled head coach all season. However, now that he's in the midst of a media blitz promoting his new book, Jackson is spilling the beans like an FBI informant. When asked about his reaction to the Lakers' decision to hire D'Antoni over him, Jackson was brutally honest. He then proceeded to dissect all the reasons D'Antoni is the wrong fit.
Via L.A. Times:
"I laughed," Jackson told ESPN on Wednesday. "It was humorous to me when Mitch said that we think that Mike is a better coach for this group of guys."
Jackson, who, at the time, was considering the Lakers job, said he was called by Kupchak in November with the message that D'Antoni was the hire, and that a decision from the Zen Master was no longer necessary.
"When Mitch gave me the call close to midnight on Sunday night right before I was going to give them an answer Monday morning and said, 'We've made a choice. We're going to hire Mike D'Antoni. We think he's the best coach for this group of guys,' My answer was, 'For Steve Nash, yes, I agree, but for Dwight Howard, I'm not so sure,'” Jackson told ESPN. "In the process of thinking about how they could best use the team I think they thought first and foremost about Steve Nash and how Steve Nash was going to fit inside of an offensive system that I coach.”
"They wanted to move to a quicker, 3-point-oriented game, which is kind of the rage right now in the NBA," Jackson said. "I felt like with Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard we could emulate a lot of what we did with Andrew Bynum and Pau and pound the ball inside and have an interior game that was strong. But it was their choice, and that's all right with me."
Kupchak had good intentions, and his analysis was correct. The triangle offense would have limited Nash's chaotic, freestyling ability, but Nash is a red herring. The Lakers didn’t have the personnel to play D’Antoni’s preferred pace. Most importantly, Jackson's scheme would have been beneficial to Howard, who hasn't flourished under D'Antoni and may leave town in free agency to get away from him.