Los Angeles Lakers Vice Prez Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak met with Phil Jackson on Saturday to try to talk him to come out of retirement and coach the Los Angeles–again.
The 67-year old former head coach of the Lakers wants the same salary he earned the last time he was there (approximately $10M a year), travel restrictions and more power over basketball decisions. Normally I would think this was a hefty price to pay to get the Zen Master back on their sideline, but we are talking about the NBA’s all-time winningest coach and one of the best NBA head coach of all time who possess 11 NBA championship rings (6 with the Chicago Bulls and 5 with the Lakers). Right now Jackson has all the right cards in his hands and I’m not mad at him for using his leverage.
Reports has it that Jackson still stays in LA and still dating the owner’s daughter Jeanie Buss (since 2001), it would be stupid for us to think that the Lakers brass wasn’t going to at least try some way (and you know what I mean[wink-wink]) to lure him back to the sideline.
As back-up, The Lakers had a phone interview Saturday with former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks’ coach Mike D’Antoni and they will interview former Los Angeles Clippers coachMike Dunleavy; but a source close to Jackson told ESPN on Saturday:
“I can’t imagine this not working out. Phil’s health is fine now. That’s no issue at all. Phil’s feisty. He gets feisty when he’s ready to coach. He likes this Lakers team.”
Jackson took last season off to avoid the frustration associated with a lockout-shortened season and to improve his health. Jackson, who underwent knee replacement surgery in March, is “getting better and better,” according to a source familiar with the rehabilitation process.
Jackson’s presence never has fully left the Lakers. He still frequently stops by the team’s practice facility to visit Ms. Buss. Even Jackson’s two elevated chairs — one he used at home practices and one the team took on the road for away games — are still propped up against a wall by the entrance to the training room at the practice facility.
It is also reported that Jackson will be interested in bringing the band, aka his assistant coaches and associate head coach, so he can groom them to be his successor. When Jackson spoke to Portland and Orlando about their head-coaching vacancies this past offseason, a mentor arrangement was discussed in both situations, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. Another reason why I think the job is his is because he has already reached out to potential assistant coaches.
If anybody will be happy for The Zen Master’s return, it has to be the
Black Mamba (aka Kobe Bryant)