Former Knicks, Suns and Nuggets head coach (that's right, he coached the Nuggets briefly for the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season) Mike D'Antoni will be taking over the reigns of the Los Angeles Lakers from the recently fired Mike Brown.
What does this mean for the Lakers, the Nuggets and the rest of the Western Conference?
For the Lakers, this is a great hire, which means this is bad news for the remainder of the conference - including Denver. D'Antoni had a famously great relationship with now-Laker point guard Steve Nash, coaching Nash to two straight MVP Awards, four-straight 50-plus win seasons and two Western Conference Championships while the two were together in Phoenix.
Moreover, D'Antoni has a solid relationship with Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, having played alongside Bryant's dad Joe "Jellybean" Bryant in Italy. According to SB Nation's Tom Ziller, Bryant idolized D'Antoni (an Italian basketball legend, even though he's American) as a kid growing up in Italy.
If there's one glaring negative with regards to D'Antoni, he doesn't have a good track record with big, lumbering centers. When the Suns traded away Shawn Marion for Shaquille O'Neal, D'Antoni was never able to get O'Neal to mesh with Nash. Granted, O'Neal was in his waning days as a great pro while D'Antoni's new big, lumbering center, Dwight Howard, is still in his prime. So it will be interesting to see how D'Antoni does with Howard.
A student of the international game - both as a player overseas and as Mike Krzyzewski's right hand man on Team USA's last two gold medal-winning Olympic squads - D'Antoni will have a field day coaching Lakers power forward Pau Gasol alongside Bryant and Nash.
While Brown is considered by many as a defensive coaching guru, D'Antoni is 180-degrees opposite as an offensive coaching guru. This, of course, has cost D'Antoni post-season success - not dissimilar from Nuggets' head coach George Karl, who gets 100-plus points out of his run-and-gun teams during the regular season only to see them stymied in the half court sets of the post-season.
But with Bryant, Nash, Gasol and Howard (whom D'Antoni coached during the 2008 Beijing Olympics) being excited to play for a coach they respect, it's hard to imagine whatever defensive flaws the Lakers might have hurting them this season.
Which brings us to how this affects the rest of the Western Conference ... and our Nuggets. Before the season started, I had predicted the Lakers winning it all - and that was with the offensively inept Brown at the helm (and the overall inept Bernie Bickerstaff by his side). Now, when playing the Lakers the Nuggets run-and-gun scheme will be matched by a high-energy offensive scheme that D'Antoni will implement, taking away one of the Nuggets advantages as Brown liked to play half court basketball. And since the Lakers simply have more talent than Denver (and just about everyone else), this will be to L.A.'s advantage.
No one hates the Lakers more than me. But with D'Antoni as head coach, look out: a struggling, squabbling, stumbling Lakers squad just got a whole lot better.
On to the links ...
Lakers hire Mike D'Antoni as next coach - Yahoo! Sports
Marc Spears reports that unwilling to meet Phil Jackson's demands, the Lakers instead hired Mike D'Antoni as their next coach.
Hochman: Lakers' early move might pave way for another title - The Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman also likes the Lakers chances in a post-Mike Brown reality.
Mike D'Antoni has long history with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant - SBNation.com
The pull of Phil Jackson came from familiarity, but Mike D'Antoni knows a couple of these players intimately well, too, writes Tom Ziller.
Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant like Lakers' Mike D'Antoni hire - SBNation.com
Scott Schroeder writes that Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are both pleased that Mike D'Antoni has been hired as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Denver Nuggets' Corey Brewer at home shooting from the corner - The Denver Post
Hochman writes about Brewer's solid three-point shooting this season.
Gallinari helps make wish come true for Italian fan | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE DENVER NUGGETS
Aaron Lopez catches up with Danilo Gallinari helping in the community.