NEW YORK (Sporting Alert) — Phil Jackson and his agent have denied media reports that the veteran coach was too demanding for the Los Angeles Lakers, who opted to hire Mike D’Antoni as the club’s new head coach.
Jackson admitted that he met with the Lakers executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak to discuss the possibilities of him returning as the coach, but added that he was lied to in the negotiations.
“Saturday morning, [Lakers executive] Jim Buss called to ask if he could come and visit. I didn’t solicit or ask for the opportunity but I welcomed both him and [team executive] Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as head coach,” Jackson was quoted as saying, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision.
I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak.
“He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team.
“The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.”
The Lakers (3-4) have won its last two games since the sacking of Mike Brown. The team will be in action again on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs.