Hours after the Lakers informed Mike Brown he was out as head coach in Los Angeles, the team has already narrowed its search to two candidates.
The names are familiar, and are the two who would each seem to make perfect sense for their own reasons.
Phil Jackson and Mike D’Antoni are atop the Lakers’ wish list to replace Brown as head coach, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles. The process is expected to move quickly, and will move beyond those two if there’s no mutual interest.
The Lakers are expected to reach out to both men as early as Saturday morning, as well as several other candidates. They’d like to move quickly through this process as interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff has only committed to working a few games.
“It’s not going to be a long process; that’s for damn sure,” a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “But they’re going to do their due diligence.”
A meeting with Jackson could happen by the end of the weekend.
Jackson certainly has the pedigree, winning championships with Kobe Bryant five times during two separate coaching campaigns with the Lakers. He left on his own after the team failed in its three-peat bid in 2011, where L.A. was unexpectedly and unceremoniously swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
Mike D’Antoni was responsible for some of the most successful recent seasons in Phoenix, where he was Steve Nash’s head coach running the Seven Seconds or Less offense that resulted in two MVPs for Nash in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
The concern with Jackson would be whether he still has the desire, and the concern with D’Antoni has always been defense.
We’ll see if the Lakers can coerce either man back to the bench, but whether they can or can’t, expect the decision to come down just as soon as they can lock up someone whose name appears on that very short list.