Sports Lakers

Mike D'Antoni calls Knicks' hiring of Phil Jackson 'a good move'

SAN ANTONIO — Lakers fans lost one of their favorite chants earlier this season, the "M-V-P" mantra reserved for the still-injured Kobe Bryant.

They lost another one Friday.

Phil Jackson joined the New York Knicks' front office as team president, taking away his chances of returning to the Lakers and presumably the "We Want Phil" chant that popped in and out of Staples Center since Coach Mike Brown was fired.

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni heard them plenty of times since getting hired but said he didn't feel relieved with Jackson out of the picture.

"Nah," he said Friday, elaborating only by adding, "No."

D'Antoni had kind words for Jackson, though. He knows all about having to work in New York after spending 31/2 seasons as the Knicks' head coach.

"It's a good move. He's obviously a knowledgeable basketball guy and they need that right now," D'Antoni said. "It's got to be a good fit. There'd be no reason why it wouldn't."

The Lakers never fully considered bringing Jackson on board as a consultant because Jim Buss already filled that type of position for the team. Buss, one of six siblings who took over their father's share of the team last year, would essentially have had to fire himself to make room for Jackson, according to a person familiar with the situation.

It obviously didn't happen.

Jackson wanted a smaller-profile Jerry West-type consulting job with a team but couldn't say no to the money he was offered for a larger role with New York, believed to be $12 million to $15 million a season. West works part time with the Golden State Warriors.

Pau Gasol won two championships while Jackson coached the Lakers. He saw the value in the Knicks adding Jackson.

"Is it official?" Gasol said, briefly smiling with delight. "I'm happy for him because I'm sure he missed being in the business... I'm sure that the Knicks organization is going to be benefited from his knowledge in his position."

Color of money

Steve Nash feels bad about his time with the Lakers so far. He really does.

But there's another reason he's not retiring after this season despite persistent nerve damage in his back.

"It's just a reality. I'm not going to retire because I want the money," he told Grantland.com in a documentary. "It's honest. We want honest athletes, but at the same time, you're going to have people out there saying 'He's so greedy. He's made "X" amount of money and has to take this last little bit.' Yes I do have to take that last little bit. I'm sorry if that's frustrating to some, but if they were in my shoes they would do exactly the same thing. I wouldn't believe for a minute that they wouldn't."

Nash, who turned 40 last month, will earn $9.7 million next season, the last part of a three-year, $28-million contract.

He played only 60 of a possible 148 regular-season games since the Lakers acquired him from Phoenix for two first-round draft picks and two second-round picks.

Nash knows that Lakers fans are angry about the lack of return on the investment.

"You have a lot of people who want to say you're just trash," he said. "That's not my primary source of motivation, to show everybody. My primary source of motivation is to get out there because I love the game. But it would be nice to shut some people up while I'm doing it."

The Lakers can waive Nash by Sept. 1 and spread his remaining salary over the next three seasons. Or they can keep him, hope he recovers and absorb the entire $9.7 million next season.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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