New Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is expected to reach out to fellow Team USA assistant Nate McMillan as a possible defensive assistant on his staff, a league source told CBSSports.com Monday.
McMillan, fired as head coach of the Trail Blazers in March, was a presumed candidate for the Lakers' head coaching vacancy but was never contacted by the team.
Pairing D'Antoni and McMillan would strengthen the staff's connection with Olympians Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard while quelling concerns that D'Antoni is too offense-oriented. In his most recent head coaching job in New York, D'Antoni was willing to accept the hiring of defensive assistant Mike Woodson, even though such a move hastened his ouster from the job.
D'Antoni's brother, Dan, is viewed as a lock for the Lakers' staff. Phil Weber, a key member of D'Antoni's staff in Phoenix and New York, also is believed to be a candidate, sources said. D'Antoni is said to be very high on former Knicks assistant Kenny Atkinson, but he's under contract with the Hawks.
With the Lakers choosing D'Antoni and a stark departure from the Princeton offense that assistant coach Eddie Jordan was hired to install, it would seem to be a foregone conclusion that Jordan will be let go. It is believed that assistant coach Steve Clifford, however, will get strong consideration to remain on the staff. The highly regarded Clifford interviewed for Portland's head coaching position and was approached about joining the staff in Portland and Dallas before joining the Lakers.
While the Lakers ate about $11 million of Mike Brown's contract after firing him five games into his second season, it is believed that the team included an unusual cost-saving provision in at least some of their assistant coach contracts. The clause stipulated that if Brown were fired for any reason, any assistants let go would only be owed half their annual salaries for this season, a league source said.