The Lakers have chosen their next head coach

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The Lakers have chosen their next head coach

From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni late Sunday night, signing the former coach of the Suns and Knicks to replace Mike Brown.The Lakers and D'Antoni's agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed the deal two days after the Lakers fired Brown five games into the season.D'Antoni agreed to a three-year deal worth 12 million, with a team option for a fourth season.D'Antoni got the high-profile job running the 16-time NBA champions only after the club's top brass extensively discussed the job with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.The 11-time NBA champion coach met with Lakers owners Jerry and Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak on Saturday to weigh a return for a third stint on Los Angeles' bench.The Lakers instead went with D'Antoni, a respected offensive strategist who coached Lakers point guard Steve Nash in Phoenix during the best years of their respective careers. D'Antoni was less successful during four seasons in New York, but at least restored the once-moribund Knicks to competence before resigning last March."Dr. (Jerry) Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak unanimously agreed that Mike was the best coach for this roster at this time," Lakers spokesman John Black said.The 61-year-old D'Antoni underwent knee replacement surgery earlier this month, and could be physically limited early his tenure. Black said the Lakers aren't certain when D'Antoni will travel to Los Angeles to begin work.Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff will continue running the Lakers until D'Antoni arrives. Los Angeles beat Sacramento 103-90 on Sunday night, improving to 2-0 under Bickerstaff after a 1-4 start under Brown.The Lakers' next game is Tuesday night against San Antonio at Staples Center.After Brown's dismissal, Nash and Kobe Bryant both expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for D'Antoni, although Bryant also campaigned eagerly for Jackson.Bryant idolized D'Antoni while growing up in Italy, where D'Antoni was a star player for Olimpia Milano in the Italian pro league. D'Antoni also has been an assistant coach on various U.S. national teams featuring Bryant, including the gold medal-winning squad at the London Olympics.Nash won two MVP awards while running D'Antoni's signature up-tempo offense for the final four seasons of the coach's five-year tenure with the Suns.Nash and D'Antoni won at least 54 games each season and reached two Western Conference finals -- and they eliminated Bryant's Lakers from the first round of the playoffs in 2006 and 2007, still the only first-round exits of Kobe's 17-year career.D'Antoni then coached New York to just one playoff appearance and no postseason victories. He also coached the Denver Nuggets during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.But his NBA accomplishments can't measure up to Jackson, who won five titles and reached seven NBA finals during two stints totaling 11 seasons with Los Angeles.Jackson walked away from the club 18 months ago after a second-round playoff sweep by Dallas, and Brown led Los Angeles to a 41-25 mark followed by another second-round playoff defeat last summer.The Lakers then traded for Nash and Dwight Howard, setting up a season of enormous expectations for Brown -- but the Lakers struggled to learn his new, Princeton-influenced offense while playing mediocre defense.After the Lakers stumbled out of the gate while Howard and Bryant missed preseason games to preserve their health, Nash incurred a small fracture in his leg during the Lakers' second regular-season game, keeping him out of the lineup for their past five games and for at least another week.The Lakers have improved to 3-4 under Bickerstaff after following up their winless preseason with four losses in their first five regular-season games, the club's worst start since 1993.Despite his reputation for offensive acumen, D'Antoni's NBA teams typically have played fairly solid defense, statistically speaking -- and they never had the imposing Howard or defensive stopper Metta World Peace in their lineups.Nash had his best NBA seasons as the versatile quarterback of the Suns' offense under D'Antoni, and point guard Jeremy Lin became a star on the Knicks last season while filling much the same role.D'Antoni resigned late last season following a six-game losing streak, surprising many observers, and former assistant coach Mike Woodson led the Knicks to the playoffs.Phoenix visits Staples Center on Friday.

Reports: Weber, Hornets agree to deal hours after Warriors release him

Reports: Weber, Hornets agree to deal hours after Warriors release him

Briante Weber wasn't unemployed very long.

Less than 12 hours after the Warriors released him, the guard has reportedly agreed to sign a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets.

News of the agreement was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

Weber's second 10-contract with the Warriors expired following Saturday's game against the Nets. Immediately after the contest, the team announced they were releasing the 24-year-old.

In seven games with the Warriors, Weber averaged 1.7 points, 0.7 assists and 0.6 rebounds in 6.6 minutes.

 

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.