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D'Antoni expects to put Lakers in title hunt

The SportsXchange

New Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said he will be a failure at the Staples Center if he doesn't put his new team in the title hunt.

"I'm going to do everything I can do to win a championship," D'Antoni told KSPN-AM 710 on Tuesday. "If we're not at least in the hunt, a serious hunt, then I've failed as a head coach. I'm comfortable with that."

D'Antoni was hired early Monday morning to replace Mike Brown, who was fired Friday by the Lakers. In between, multiple reports said former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who won five titles with the Lakers, was told the job was his if he wanted it, but team officials hired D'Antoni instead.

The new coach said he was surprised when he was offered a three-year contract early Monday.

"I was surprised in the sense that it seemed like a natural fit," D'Antoni said." "But you never know what happens, so I'm not here to judge one way or the other. I know he's a great coach. Has been, will be, one of the best if not the best ever."

D'Antoni is known for his fast-paced offense in which he preached for a shot every seven seconds. With guard Steve Nash running the offense, D'Antoni became famous when he led the Phoenix Suns to the Western Conference Finals twice in five seasons.

"This is a completely different team," D'Antoni said. "This team will be more skilled, bigger, a little older, much more experienced and our object will be to find the best shot within the 24-second period. We'll push the tempo a little bit.

"I think the model will be something like 'Showtime.' But that's hard to reach. That was the best probably it's ever been done, but that's kind of how we will evolve things. But I think we can run whatever system in that we know the principles we want to run and we'll tweak it to be efficient."

D'Antoni inherits a team that features all-stars in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and Nash.

"You have great experienced players (who) you wouldn't try to burden them with too much," he said. "Just let 'em play. I'm not coming in and trying to change everything. These guys know how to play."
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