The Lakers largely echoed the thoughts of Howard, who was looking forward to playing for Jackson: "Management had to do what they felt is best for the team, and we as players have got to find a way to win."
The Lakers publicly offered no reason for passing over the coach with the most championships in NBA history. Although nobody could claim the Buss family is afraid of spending money, Brown is still owed well over $10 million for the remaining three seasons on his four-year, $18 million contract, while D'Antoni will make $4 million a season for the next three years — and their salaries together might be less than what Jackson would command.
The Lakers largely know what they would get with Jackson, but D'Antoni intrigues this older, top-heavy team with an urgency to contend for a title before Howard's free agency next summer and Bryant's possible retirement in a few years.
Howard and Gasol both believe D'Antoni's up-tempo style can work well for the Lakers. Howard would seem to be a natural to partner with Nash in the pick-and-roll attacks loved by D'Antoni and Nash, although Gasol doesn't immediately fit into the definition of a big man who can play on the perimeter and shoot 3-pointers.
"It's a great system, (but) I don't think he ever had a defender such as myself or a defender such as Dwight Howard on those teams," Metta World Peace said. "I don't think he ever coached those type of players, so his defense should be self-explanatory, and his offense is amazing, so it should be fun for Laker fans."
The rest of the NBA sat back and watched the Lakers' drama with amusement over the past two days, with Dallas owner Mark Cuban weighing in gleefully on the mess: "I hope they have to do it again and again and again."
Jackson's flirtation with the job is the strongest indication yet that he's interested in coaching again, which makes him a prime candidate for another franchise. Yet D'Antoni also received praise around the league — even from New York, where he resigned last March after failing to win a playoff game in four years with the Knicks.
"Despite all the hoopla ... that was going on about me and Mike, we actually have a pretty good relationship, especially behind closed doors," Carmelo Anthony said. "We actually talked a lot, talked basketball. Hopefully he brings some positive energy over there. Anytime guys are losing like that, there's always negativity, a lot of negative energy. So sometimes change is better."
Added Dwyane Wade, who has played for D'Antoni on the U.S. national team: "He has a tough job ahead of him, but I'm sure he's excited about the opportunity that he gets to be with America's team."
AP Sports Writers Brian Mahoney and Chris Duncan contributed to this report.
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