The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers have built up quite a rivalry through the years.
It’s a rivalry that took an odd twist on July 4 when the Suns dealt two-time MVP Steve Nash to Los Angeles, but apparently the twists and turns keep on coming.
Early Monday morning, despite rampant speculation that Phil Jackson would return to the organization for a third stint, Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported that the front office was headed in a different direction.
Source: Mike D’Antoni will be the next coach of the Lakers. Not Phil Jackson.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 12, 2012
D’Antoni endeared himself to fans in the Valley as the Suns head coach from 2003-2008.
After taking over for Frank Johnson midway through the 2003-2004 season, D’Antoni employed an up-tempo scheme which popularly became referred to as the “Seven Seconds or Less” offense. With Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion leading the way, the Suns made back-to-back appearances in the 2005 and 2006 Western Conference Finals — losing both times to the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.
Under D’Antoni, though, the Suns did defeat the Lakers twice in the 2006 and 2007 playoffs.
Following his tenure in Phoenix, D’Antoni spent three-plus seasons in the Big Apple as the head coach of the New York Knicks. He led the Knicks to one playoff appearance during the 2010-2011 season but resigned this past March after a rough 18-24 start to the 2011-2012 season.
In addition to his two coaching stops in Phoenix and New York, D’Antoni served as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets during the lockout-shortened season in 1998-1999.
The move reunites D’Antoni with Nash, yet another tough sight for Suns fans to have to witness. D’Antoni is no stranger to Lakers star Kobe Bryant as well, having coached him in 2008 and 2012 as an assistant on the USA men’s basketball team.
Bresnahan reported the Lakers and D’Antoni agreed to a guaranteed three-year deal with a team option for a fourth year, but the former Coach of the Year will need medical clearance before officially taking over the position. D’Antoni is currently recovering from knee replacement surgery.
As luck would have it, D’Antoni won’t have to wait long to face his former team. The Suns travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers Friday night at the Staples Center.