Posts Tagged ‘David Aldridge’

Howard To Houston Is A Two-Fisted Gut Punch For Mavs

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – If the Los Angeles Lakers recoiled at the sobering prospect of dealing Dwight Howard to an already rising divisional foe, imagine the steam clouds that spewed from the ears of Mark Cuban as if his head was an erupting Mount Vesuvius when he learned the big man had agreed to join the aspiring Houston Rockets.

Cuban seemed to take the news in stride Friday afternoon when the Dallas Mavericks’ owner was notified that his team was out of the running for the summer’s most coveted free agent. At the time, he said he was not told with which team Howard would sign.

“Got word we are out of the DH sweepstakes,” Cuban wrote in an email to various media outlets. “We gave it a shot and it didn’t work out. It was truly an experience. At some point I will post our video and presentation we made.”

The Rockets, Golden State Warriors and the incumbent Los Angeles Lakers remained in play. But only a short time later, USA Today, followed by TNT’s David Aldridge confirmed that Howard will leave the Lakers and join the Mavs’ Southwest division rival.

This one will deeply burn the Mavs, now two-time losers trying to lure a big-name free agent to pair with a now 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki.

All the while Cuban controversially, yet strategically was dismantling his 2011 championship club in anticipation of re-building a contender by creating cap space to lure a superstar (or two) under the guidelines of the new collective bargaining agreement, his in-division, in-state rival in southeast Texas was scheming just the same.

Daryl Morey, the gambling Houston Rockets’ general manager, set in motion a number of trades and transactions over the last two years to ultimately acquire players, cap space and other assets that would position the Rockets to strike when opportunities arose, to swing for the fences through both trades and free agency.

The Rockets should give Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti a tip of the cap for making this behemoth agreement possible. Before the start of last season, the Thunder’s salary-cap-strapped GM dealt rising star James Harden to Houston as Morey dipped into his collection of assets. Harden became an All-Star and delivered the Rockets back into the playoffs. Now Morey has Howard, too, his longtime target.

Aside from the Lakers, who practically begged Howard to re-sign, no team will find this harder to swallow than Dallas. The scenario of Howard to Houston was always the Mavs’ worst nightmare, leaving the franchise third in pecking order in its own state behind the Rockets and the ever-resilient San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors cleared out cap space Friday and added another top-flight free agent in Andre Iguodala – a Mavs target in the case they whiffed on Howard — to a young and talented roster that challenged the Spurs in the second round. Golden State won’t be too disappointed in not landing Howard. They were always a long-shot in this race and even without Howard they look to be putting together something special.

The Atlanta Hawks, flush with cap space, never seemed to elevate their hopes too high that Howard would reverse his long-held thinking and decide to play in his hometown. General manager Danny Ferry will now attempt to piece together the best team he possibly can for new coach Mike Budenholzer.

This was Strike Two for Dallas. A year ago, it chased native son Deron Williams, but was rebuffed. It signed a slew of players to one-year deals to keep their free-agent “powder dry” — as president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson is fond of saying — and to go after Howard or Chris Paul this summer.

Williams’ Nets now have the look of a contender after general manager Billy King pulled off the stunning trade that brings Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. CP3 got Doc Rivers and is staying put and now the Rockets with Howard will vault into the top four or five in the West with Warriors, CP3’s Clippers, the Thunder and the reigning West champion Spurs.

And Houston might not be done. They have long been reported to seek Atlanta free agent power forward Josh Smith, a childhood buddy of Howard, who’s reluctance to join the Mavs leaves the franchise reeling. Two seasons ago they were swept out of the first round by the Thunder and this season failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.

Nowitzki, understanding his years are numbered, has repeatedly called this a “big offseason for us.”

Yet on the roster at this moment with him is Shawn Marion, 35, Vince Carter, 36, two 2012 second-round draft picks Jae Crowder and Bernard James, plus 2013 first-round pick Shane Larkin and newly signed Israeli guard Gal Mekel. 

As Howard’s drama dragged on, Dallas missed out on other free-agent targets, most notable Iguodala. The Clippers re-signed role player Matt Barnes and on Thursday center Al Jefferson signed a lucrative deal with the Charlotte Bobcats.

So where do Cuban and the Mavs go from here?

Dallas, 41-41 last season with Nowitzki playing in only 53 games after preseason knee surgery, has glaring holes at point guard, shooting guard and center. They can seek a trade but possess few assets to entice a team into dealing a player of stature. They learned that quickly in reported talks with Boston for Rajon Rondo.

Cuban said after the season that he doesn’t want to go through another year of one-year contracts, preferring to find players that are core-worthy. Now he and Nelson must decide if, for instance, still available guards Monta Ellis, Mo Williams or Jarrett Jack are building-block players they want to commit years and dollars to at the risk of cutting into cap space for next summer. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Zach Randolph, among others, could be on the market.

But the Mavs have twice seen what a crapshoot that strategy can be.

Nuggets’ Move On Karl A Major Gamble

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MIAMI – In the end, it was just the way the Nuggets do business.

Just as with their now former general manager Masai Ujiri, the Nuggets’ refusal to even contemplate a new contract for their now former coach, George Karl, led to their decision Thursday to fire Karl after nine seasons. And so, a team that was seeded third entering the Western Conference playoffs in late April, and which sported the reigning Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, now has neither in the space of six weeks.

The ripple effects remain to be seen.

The Nuggets have to re-sign forward Andre Iguodala, for example, a free agent this summer. Asked Thursday how Karl’s ouster would affect his decision, Iguodala texted, “Good question. Need some time to let it sink in.”

The Nuggets’ 33-year-old president, Josh Kroenke, the son of team chairman Stan Kroenke, is taking a major gamble by firing Karl and his 1,131 career wins, which ranks six in the history of the league. Karl has gotten a lot of heat locally for the Nuggets’ inability to go very far in the postseason on his watch; though the team made the playoffs in each of his 10 seasons there, the Nuggets only advanced past the first round once, when Denver made the Western Conference finals in 2009.

But nationally, Karl remains highly respected, not only for his part in making the Nuggets a relevant NBA franchise again, but in how he has stoically dealt twice with bouts of cancer, the last of which caused him to miss most of the second half of the 2009-10 season and Denver’s first-round loss to Utah. It is hard to see, outside of somehow convincing Phil Jackson to come to the Mile High City, how Kroenke is going to find a better coach than Karl.

Karl kept winning while the Nuggets used the first half of the 2010-11 season working out a potential trade for Carmelo Anthony, the team’s superstar who wanted out. And after Denver moved Anthony to New York, the Nuggets kept winning—though, again, they did not get out of the first round that season.

This season, Karl won Coach of the Year honors after Denver posted a league-best 38-3 home record, and looked like a major contender in the west. The Nuggets had won a franchise-record 57 games this past season, but their first-round defeat at the hands of sixth-seeded Golden State shook the organization, and Karl never recovered.

Afterward, Denver simply would not discuss a new contract for Karl, who had a year remaining on his current contract and a series of one-year team options following that. The 62-year-old Karl, one of just one of eight coaches in NBA history with more than 1,000 victories, wanted the security of a new deal, especially with Ujiri, with whom he’d worked well the past two years and trusted, leaving last week for the Raptors’ GM job—and more than doubling his salary in the process.

The team had also been slow to reward Ujiri, viewed around the league as the driving force behind Denver getting such a huge haul for Anthony from the Knicks, skillfully pitting the Knicks and Nets against one another as their offers for Anthony increased.

Going forward, management was uncertain that Karl would accede to its increasingly urgent request to play some of the team’s younger players. Karl had opted to start rugged center Kosta Koufos this season instead of high-flying JaVale McGee, whom Karl did not believe was as consistent defensively as the less-regarded Koufos.

But the Nuggets had given McGee a four-year, $44 million extension last summer, and believed he was the team’s center of the future, having traded the veteran Nene to Washington in 2012 for McGee.

Karl was “pushing” for a new deal, a source said Thursday—“in his mind, not unreasonable. He felt he needed to have it. The uncertainty of Andre Iguodala, the uncertainty of when Gallo (forward Danilo Gallinari) would be back (from his ACL tear, suffered late last season). He felt like after 10 years of proving himself as a coach, he deserved it. They just didn’t feel that.”

Karl’s representatives and Nuggets management had been talking for weeks, including several discussions held during the Chicago pre-Draft camp in April. The more Karl pushed, the more “reluctant” the Nuggets became to discuss a new deal, the source said.

Josh Kroenke was up front with Karl. He told Karl he didn’t want to put him in the position of having to order him next season to play the young guys if management felt that was the way to go, knowing Karl would balk because going young would certainly impact his win-loss record. Yet management remained firm that it would not give Karl an extension.

“It came down to the point that they realized, if they couldn’t get anything done (with Karl), was there any point in going forward?,” the source said. “Josh was very direct, very honest. He was very, very clear every step of the way.”

But, in the end, Kroenke opted to clean house, leaving himself alone atop the team’s power structure—though he is not expected to take control of basketball operations, having just been named president of the NHL’s Avalanche as well; Stan Kroenke owns the Avalanche.

The Nuggets have already reached out to Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw, asking for permission to speak with him about their vacancy, according to CBSSports.com. Josh Kroenke is also a big supporter of his team’s assistant GM, Pete D’Alessandro, and may well elevate him to GM to replace Ujiri.

Aldridge: Chalmers Will Play Game 2 Despite Bruised Shoulder

NBA.com

Miami guard Mario Chalmers (bruised left shoulder) said today he expects to play in Friday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana, reports TNT Analyst David Aldridge. Chalmers suffered the injury when he ran into Pacers forward David West in the second half.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra indicated that Chalmers could have played in Game 1 after the injury.

‘Final’ Vote On Kings Comes Today



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The long wait is almost over … well, we think it might be over.

We could know before nightfall where the Kings will play in the future: Sacramento or Seattle.

The NBA’s Board of Governors meet today in Dallas with an expected final vote by all 30 owners on the Maloof family’s relocation proposal that would move the Kings from Sacramento to Seattle, where a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer is set to purchase the franchise for a record price.

The formal recommendation two weeks ago from the committee of owners formed to study the relocation plan was a resounding vote for the Kings remaining in Sacramento. But the Maloofs have made it clear that their desire is to go with the Seattle group’s generous reported offer of $406.25 million and flee California’s capital city.

It’s not as simple as that, of course, what with the lawyers involved and the league waist-deep in a back and forth between two cities that are both desperate to keep a team, in Sacramento’s case, and regain a team, in Seattle’s case.

That’s the short version. The long version, in complete detail courtesy my main man, TNT’s David Aldridge, who is going to be on the scene in Dallas today, is much more complicated.

The Seattle group has covered all of its bases in trying to complete this deal. They’ve reached an agreement on that secondary deal, which they want enacted in the case that the Board of Governors reject the relocation proposal today.

That deal would include the Maloofs selling 20 percent of the Kings to the Hansen-led group for $120 million, and that’s based on a franchise valuation of $600 million. The Kings would stay in Sacramento for the 2013-14 season with the Maloofs as the owners. The Hansen group is also willing (and able) to pay an unprecedented $115 million relocation fee, a payout of approximately $4 million for every owner, if the owners allow them to purchase the Kings and move them to Seattle next season, raising the stakes yet again in this hundred million dollar exhibit in the business of basketball.

Sacramento Mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson is using the Kings’ history in Sacramento and the NBA’s loyalty to a fan base and city that has supported the Kings fervently, through good times and bad, as his trump card in this saga. The Sacramento group does not seem at all interested in some bidding war for the franchise that’s made it’s home there for last three decades.

Sort through the minutiae as best you can, but the bottom line is one set of fans will wake up tomorrow relieved that they finally have some answers about their team while another group of fans will wake up to the nightmare that their team is either leaving or not coming to town.

Again, the long wait is almost over … we think!

Sacramento Or Seattle? Committees Offer Up Recommendation On Monday

The NBA’s relocation and finance committees will have a conference call on Monday, April 29, and make a recommendation on whether to approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based group that would move the team there next season or to reject the sale and keep the team in Sacramento.

After the recommendation is officially delivered to the NBA, the league’s owners will have seven business days to contemplate what to do and to conduct a final vote. That would mean the league could have a final vote as early as Wednesday, May 8, though it does not mean they would vote that day.

The NBA’s Board of Governors did not take a vote on whether to allow the sale from the Maloof Family to a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at its annual meeting earlier this month. The city of Sacramento, led by Mayor Kevin Johnson, has put together an ownership group led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov that has put in a bid to buy the team from the Maloofs and keep them in Sacramento.

Both cities have received local approval for building new arenas that would take some public funding as part of the construction costs. Owners on the committees wanted more information concerning the schedules each city has for constructing the building, as well as potential environmental and legal issues each city faces before construction can begin.

The Hansen group reached agreement with the Maloofs in January to purchase 65 percent of the team, on a franchise valuation of $525 million, equaling $341 million for the 65 percent, and gave a $30 million non-refundable deposit to the Maloofs. Earlier this month, after the Ranadive group made it clear to owners it would match the Hansen offer, Hansen announced his group would “voluntarily” raise its franchise valuation of the Kings to $550 million, meaning an additional $16.5 million would go to the Maloofs, for $357.5 million for 65 percent of the team.

The Ranadive group has matched the $525 million valuation, but has not yet opted to match the $550 million valuation. According to a letter released by the Maloofs earlier this month, the Ranadive group has pledged a $15 million non-refundable deposit.

The Maloofs have consistently told the league that they want to take the deal with the Hansen group. But Commissioner David Stern has been adamant that while the NBA generally allows owners to sell to whomever they like, the league will make the determination whether the Kings will be allowed to move.

A vote to approve a sale requires three-quarters of the league’s owners, or 23 of the 30. A vote to approve a franchise move requires a simple majority, or 16 of the league’s 30 owners.

Framework Of Brown-Cavs’ Deal In Place

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The framework of a deal that would reunite the Cleveland Cavaliers and their former coach, Mike Brown, is in place, according to league sources, though the two sides do not yet have a contract in place and there are several remaining issues that have to be resolved.

The Cavaliers have moved quickly after firing Byron Scott, who replaced Brown in Cleveland in 2010, last week. Owner Dan Gilbert met with Brown on Sunday for dinner and discussions have quickly picked up steam.

The two sides are still working out the structure of the contract. Brown is looking for a five-year deal; the team is currently offering four years. A fifth-year club option might be a potential compromise. Brown would also have to work out the offset he has with the Lakers, who still owe him $10 million after firing him five games into his second season as coach there.

Brown posted a 272-138 record in five seasons in Cleveland, building a team around LeBron James that got to the NBA Finals in 2007 and won 50 games or more four times. He was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2009. Criticized early in his tenure there for an unimaginative offense, Brown changed much of his offense, giving assistant coach John Kuester broad authority, and the Cavaliers became one of the NBA’s better offenses in Brown’s last two seasons there.

But the Cavaliers failed to reach The Finals in Brown’s last three years, including the 2008-09 season, when Cleveland went 66-16 in the regular season. The following year, the Cavaliers lost in especially ignominious fashion to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Soon afterward, Gilbert decided not to pick up Brown’s option, in what many believed was a desperate attempt to keep James from leaving via free agency. James, of course, did leave, for Miami.

The Akron Beacon-Journal first reported that a deal between the sides were close.

Cleveland’s current management team pushed to go after Brown after Scott’s outster. The Cavaliers were impressed with Brown’s ability to create a defensive structure while evolving on offense, and winning 127 regular season games his last two seasons in Cleveland — a mark that is just as good as James has had in Miami — without the presence of Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

The Cavs may also be moving quickly to keep Brown from the open market.

The Philadelphia 76ers are believed to have an interest in speaking with Brown about their coaching vacancy after Doug Collins announced he would not return as coach next season. The Detroit Pistons need a coach after firing Lawrence Frank last week, as do the Charlotte Bobcats, who fired Mike Dunlap on Tuesday after one season. There may also be openings soon in Brooklyn (P.J. Carlesimo), Milwaukee (Jim Boylan) and Sacramento (Keith Smart).

And speculation has run rampant throughout the league for months that the Atlanta Hawks — whose general manager, Danny Ferry, hired Brown in Cleveland in 2005 — would reach out to Brown at the end of their season. The Hawks’ current coach, Larry Drew, is in the final year of his contract, and the team opted to wait until after the season to decide what to do about his future status.

Hunter Defends Union Conduct

Longtime MLB and NHL labor nemesis Donald Fehr’s name has been mentioned. The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, B. Todd Jones, might be approached, though he already has two jobs and he’s in the midst of his own controversy at the moment. And NBA.com’s David Aldridge on Monday offered up a trio of candidates who could be worthy choices to head up the National Basketball Players Association.

All this speculation about Billy Hunter’s possible successor as NBPA executive director was enough to trigger Hunter’s first interview defending his performance and arguing why he should continue in his job.

It might, however, be too little, too late. Again.

Too late because, for the second time in a week (and borrowing a term from politics), Hunter has tried to lead from behind. It was only after he was cited in an independent audit commissioned by the players for incidents of nepotism and conflict of interest that Hunter announced a series of “governance reforms” in how the NBPA would conduct its business.

Now, even as a list of replacements was being informally (or maybe even formally) compiled, Hunter tried to catch up to the process in a sitdown interview with the New York Times Wednesday. He is on indefinite paid leave blocking him from NBPA business or contact with NBA players while the union sorts through its options in advance of a highly scrutinized Feb. 16 meeting at All-Star Weekend in Houston.

Of course, Hunter’s silence to this point might have been driven by legal advice. A federal investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and the Labor Department still is underway. The Times, citing an anonymous source, reported that “grand-jury subpoenas were issued to a number of players and union employees over the last several weeks and that the state of New York’s attorney general has begun an inquiry. Hunter has maintained throughout that none of his actions rise to the criminal level:

“They didn’t find one dime missing, nothing out of place.”

The too-little part? It’s risky to confuse quantity with quality in interview situations — men and women of few words can speak volumes — but Hunter’s quotes in Howard Beck’s story totaled a mere 184 words. In what was billed as a 65-minute interview, much of the time seemingly was taken up by Hunter’s attorney, Thomas Ashley, or by disputing specifics in the damaging report compiled by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Among the more significant concerns cited in the audit were Hunter’s hiring of family members; his receipt of a $1.3 million vacation payout that was inadequately documented; the decision to spend $80,000 in “due diligence” on a possible investment in a failing bank that had ties to his son; and questionable travel expenses. Hunter called the report “just a lot of little things.”

“It’s almost like you put enough together, and you throw it up against the wall, hopefully something will stick,” he said. “But when you look at them each individually, we can rebut them.”

The challenge for Hunter might be getting an appropriate forum. The Times story noted that Boston’s Paul Pierce and Brooklyn’s Deron Williams already have spoken publicly about the need for a replacement. And veteran Jerry Stackhouse is ready for a change, too, according to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News.

The Times story noted, too, that the 70-year-old director might not be permitted to attend meetings at All-Star Weekend that could decide his fate. Hunter seemed skeptical that he would be given a fair chance by union president Derek Fisher or the executive committee to present his side of the issues, beyond what he already has done.

“I assume that between now and then that Derek will be doing everything he can to stack the deck,” Hunter said, referring to the coming union meeting, “so that they have the appropriate players in place to vote according to their request or plan.”

Hunter’s future would be determined by a vote of the NBPA’s 30 player representatives. In the event things don’t go as he might like, Hunter and Ashley said that – if he were terminated – they feel the $10.5 million and benefits left on his contract still would be due him. A legal fight for it, if necessary, surely would ensue.

Two items of interest related to that: First, the NBPA’s coffers apparently are in great shape, with a reported $80 million surplus, according to the Times story.

Second, NBA players have talked for years about their “partnership” with the owners. Well, one thing owners sure are good at is firing people in leadership positions (a.k.a. coaches) and paying them not to work even as they hire – and pay – replacementa. The NBPA soon might be feeling that partnership more than ever.

Want A Pau Gasol Trade? Be Patient

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – If you’re waiting on Pau Gasol in Minnesota or Toronto (or anywhere else, really), you’ll need to be patient.

While the All-Star big man continues to look like a bad fit with Mike D’Antoni‘s Lakers, L.A. brass is willing to wait to see how things work out after Steve Nash returns from his leg injury, as our David Aldridge reports in the video above.

“Right now,” DA says, “nothing’s happening with regard to Pau Gasol.”

That doesn’t mean that folks around the league can’t talk about the possibilities, of course. And it’s not like the NBA’s other general managers can’t gauge Mitch Kupchak‘s interest in their players until Nash is cleared to play.

Toronto fans are probably the most desperate for a shake-up. Their team is 4-15 and Andrea Bargnani is shooting 40 percent. Using an adjusted strength-of-schedule formula that takes home-away and back-to-backs into account, the Raps have played the league’s toughest schedule thus far. But they still have three more games on their current five-game trip and 4-15 is never an easy hole to climb out of, no matter what the circumstances are.

Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that rumors are just that, and Bryan Colangelo is always going to see what’s available:

The merits of a Gasol-Bargnani swap can be debated until the cows come home — and it would have to be a significantly bigger trade anyway to make the salaries match — but it speaks to general managers doing what they should: Try to make their teams better, in their opinion.

But it’s often the chatter that goes on behind the scenes that yields action; if things get to the public stage it often means one side is trying to change the opinion of the other by applying some public pressure.

There is no doubt that Colangelo, and his Los Angeles counterpart Mitch Kupchak, are tying their level best to improve their teams. If they chatted about Bargnani and Gasol, you can be sure they talked to several other teams as well.

And when those talks get to the public stage, another flurry of interest will follow. And when either makes a trade no one saw coming, it will be reality.

Meanwhile, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes that there’s certainly some validity to the Wolves’ interest in Gasol:

Make no mistake: Adelman has been driving the bus on personnel moves since last summer and the Wolves’ continued interest in a 32-year-old with knee tendinitis and an $18 million salary means Adelman approves of the idea, if he’s not outright pushing for it.

Any such deal would have to include Derrick Williams, Nikola Pekovic as well as J.J. Barea and/or Luke Ridnour just so the Wolves could give back enough salary to absorb Gasol’s big contract.

And it might very well have to involve a third or fourth team to make the deal work because the Lakers, if they do indeed trade Gasol, want a power forward who can shoot — a “stretch 4″ — to put next to Dwight Howard and have other preferred targets in sight such as Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani or New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson rather than Williams, who indeed is a stretch 4, just not a very consistent one so far.

Gasol’s contract (he’s owed $19 million this season and $19.3 million next season) would make any trade difficult to pull off, but bigger contracts have been moved and there seems to be interest around the NBA in one of the league’s most talented big men.

Still, the Lakers want first to see what they’ve got when D’Antoni is able to coach all four of his star players together. Furthermore, we’ll have to wait until Jan. 15 before some players who signed new contracts this summer are trade eligible.

So hold off on the trade talk for now.

In Stunning Turn Of Events, Lakers Pick D’Antoni Over Jackson For Vacancy





Showtime, or a veritable facsimile thereof, won.

In a stunning development late Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers opted to sign former Knicks and Suns coach Mike D’Antoni to a four-year deal as their next coach, ending negotiations with 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson. He was believed to be the prohibitive favorite to replace Mike Brown, who was fired last Friday.

D’Antoni and former Lakers, Blazers, Bucks and Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy interviewed with the Lakers over the weekend. But they were fallbacks, interviews done just in case the Lakers, somehow, could not reach a deal with the 67-year-old Jackson, who’d won five titles in Los Angeles during two stints as head coach.

But the Lakers could not reach agreement with Jackson, whose representatives had made it clear last summer that Jackson wanted a much bigger role in any organization that he joined, with hiring authority for coaches and other positions in the organization.

Negotiations with Jackson ended Sunday night, and the Lakers called D’Antoni’s agent, Warren LeGarie, as their home game against the Kings was ending. The two sides quickly worked out a contract somewhat along the lines of what Brown — another LeGarie client — received, though specific dollar amounts were not immediately available.

The Lakers never contacted other potential coaching candidates like former Blazers coach Nate McMillan, or former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

In the end, D’Antoni’s relationships both with Steve Nash, whom he helped get two MVPs in Phoenix, and with Kobe Bryant, who has known D’Antoni since he was finishing his playing career in Italy when a young Bryant lived there, made him the choice over Dunleavy.

D’Antoni’s Suns gave as good as they got with the Lakers in the playoffs, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to defeat L.A. in a 2006 first-round series. And his “Seven Seconds or Less” offensive system, which demanded pushing the ball up court — even after opponents scored — to get a good shot early in the shot clock, was much more in line with the old “Showtime” Lakers of Magic Johnson than the halfcourt-based Princeton offense that Brown tried to run.

The Lakers fired Brown Friday morning, despite executive vice president Jim Buss having given him a vote of confidence the day before. And despite everyone, including Bryant, stressing patience as the team dealt with injuries and the learning curve with the Princeton sets.

D’Antoni badly wanted the Lakers job, and an opportunity to again coach the now 38-year-old Nash. He was disturbed by how his stint in New York ended, without a playoff appearance, and with him resigning in March after Knicks management refused his entreaties to try and trade star forward Carmelo Anthony.

D’Antoni had knee replacement surgery about two weeks ago, and has to be cleared by his physician to be allowed to travel. He is already walking and his in-house therapist believes D’Antoni is about a week of rehab away from being able to handle coaching’s rigors. The current plan is for D’Antoni to be in Los Angeles by Wednesday or Thursday. The Lakers play the Spurs Tuesday night at Staples Center, but per LeGarie, D’Antoni will not be in attendance for that game. Bernie Bickerstaff, who has coached the Lakers to two wins on an interim basis, would probably coach that game, then.

LeGarie says that D’Antoni will not conduct any interviews before being introduced by the Lakers. D’Antoni will likely be put on an accelerated rehab program when he arrives in Los Angeles.

D’Antoni’s older brother, Dan, who has been with him on the bench in Phoenix and New York, will be joining Mike D’Antoni on the Lakers’ staff, according to a source. It is unknown if any of the Lakers’ current assistant coaches will be retained, though it is possible that Bickerstaff could be asked to stay.

Reflections On Reggie’s Big Day

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This day, this moment, belongs to Reggie Miller.

This is his night in the Hall of Fame spotlight. But in addition to family, friends and former teammates, coaches and fans who will all share in his special moment.

That group includes his colleagues at TNT, who shared some of their own thoughts about Miller …

Shaquille O’Neal:

“Reggie will go down as one of the greatest shooters of all time. But you can’t mention Reggie’s name and not think of the legendary comeback against the Knicks.”

Charles Barkley:

“Reggie is a friend of mine and I’m very happy for him. It’s an awesome accomplishment and it’s going to be a wonderful night for him and his sister.”

Ernie Johnson:

“I loved watching Reggie play because for 48 minutes he gave you everything he had, and he possessed all those qualities that encompass being a superstar in this league: worth ethic, court sense, will to win, loyalty, charisma, killer instinct, ability to perform in the clutch … the list goes on and on. Like all the greats, Reggie wanted the ball in his hands with the game hanging in the balance and time and again he would deliver. His night in Springfield is richly deserved, and we’re all richer for having watched such a talent for all those years in the Pacers uniform.”

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