When Phil Jackson retired from coaching in the NBA last season, amid a disappointing finish to the Los Angeles Lakers season, Jackson had not even began to enjoy his retirement before the rumors of what team he would coach next began. Jackson, it seemed, was destined to make this retirement permanent, as his health, and love for the game had seemed to wane. An embarrassing loss in the second-round of the playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks, where Jackson got out-coached by Rick Carlisle, was not the way Jackson wanted to go out, but while watching the series unfold it seemed as though Jackson had lost his fire for the game, and was simply going through the motions.
But now Jackson, as everyone had initially predicted, has the itch to come back and coach in the NBA, but not necessarily with the New York Knicks. Jackson and the Knicks have had a complicated relationship these past few weeks, but have not had any contact directly with each other. Jackson assuredly knows that the Knicksare interested in his services, but no NBA team has contacted Jackson so far. As I stated before Jackson is not too interested with the Knicks roster, and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has hinted before at a Jackson return.
It is unsure if the Lakers and Jackson have mutual interest in each other, what with the Lakers having a coach in Mike Brown and all, but it is widely known that Lakers owner Jerry Buss, and the Buss family, have long been about putting the best possible product on the floor, and paying whatever it takes to do so. It is also widely known in the Lakers offices that Buss is willing to do anything to sell tickets, not that he has any problems with that already, and putting Jackson back at the helm could help bolster that significantly.
On top of the financial aspect that would come with signing Jackson once again, the basketball side of thingsmust be taken into account. When Jackson was with the Lakers for their two NBA championships, and sweep by the Mavericks, he did not have the best of rosters, but he still made it work. If Jackson were to come back next season he would then have a roster with a immensely talented center inAndrew Bynum, a rejuvenated star in Kobe Bryant, and a young but raw point guard in Ramon Sessions.
With what Jackson did for a young, and immature Shaquille O’Neal, helping him to realize, and maximize his potential, there is no telling how good he could become. There has already been a plethora of debate about Bynum possibly being better than Dwight Howard, and assuredly being the second best center in the NBA if not the best. Under the tutelage, and guidance of Jackson, Bynum could mature and become the dominant force the Lakers need him to be.
Now for all those wondering about the Lakers current head coach, Mike Brown, and his future with the team, then that is a good question. The Lakers released a statement on Sunday, following comments by Laker great Magic Johnson that Brown would be fired if the Lakers did not win Game 7 vs. the Denver Nuggets, stating that they were fully committed to Brown as head coach. But then again what were they supposed to say? It’s not like they would come out and declare that Brown would be a one-and-done coach, similar to RudyTomjanovich’s tenure with the Lakers, in hopes that Jackson would once again come out of retirement, and once again save the Lakers. Through everything that has happened this season, with the trades and such, it does not seem out of the question that Brown could be put into a similar situation as Tomjanovich, if Jackson does become available.
It is not certain, as of now, where, or if, Jackson will be coaching next season. What is certain though is that Jackson does want to return to the game he loves, and the team that he loves so much, the Los Angeles Lakers, will be keeping an open to see if a reunion could be put into the works. Because with the way things are looking right now, for the Lakers, under the guidance of Brown they are not really showing any promise of a bright future. A dose of Phil Jackson may be just what this team needs.
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