This article by Eric Freeman hits the nail on the head with his last statement. I was wondering the same thing. It’s only been a couple years since the Lakers suffered such a humiliating loss in the NBA Finals to Dallas and Phil Jackson didn’t exactly leave on happy terms. Doesn’t it seem like it could be a little too soon to reach out to Jackson and sincerely say ‘hey, we’d like to have you back’? Well they did and here’s a portion of a summary in Jackson’s words of what transpired:
“We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.” [...]
I’m not sure we will ever know the truth about why the Lakers organization passed on Jackson and signed a 3 year deal with D’Antoni but the fans really wanted The Zen Master to return. I hope D’Antoni lives up to everybody’s expectations. You can read the full story here.