Skip to content

Phil Jackson says he had handshake deal that he could decide on Lakers job Monday

Nov 12, 2012, 7:12 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant And Phil Jackson Address The Media Getty Images

Phil Jackson is telling his side of the story.

Or, at least the public side of it.

He released a statement Monday night that confirms part of what the Lakers have said — that this was a basketball decision not a move made because of salary, time off or other requests — but it also shows that Jackson was among the many caught off guard by the Lakers hiring of Mike D’Antoni. And that the Lakers didn’t handle this professionally.

Here is the statement, courtesy Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA.com.

Saturday morning, Jim Buss, called to ask if he could come and visit,” Jackson said in a prepared statement released on Monday evening.

“I did not solicit or ask for the opportunity, but I welcomed both he and Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as the head coach. We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a hand shake 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 on Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a 3-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 endorsed my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.”

Well played saying it was the fans bringing you back, Phil.

It also continues to give the feeling that this was a hastily arrived at decision for the Lakers. First, if you are going to fire your sitting coach with the season underway you do some back-channel communication to see if your main targets are interested already. You don’t fire and then be left trying to find somebody.

Second, it just feels wrong to tell Jackson he has until Monday to make a decision — his agent had taken a red eye out to Los Angeles for the Monday meeting — then turn around and make a midnight call on Sunday saying your are out. It’s not professional. Jackson’s agent agreed, saying that to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLA.com.

I still think D’Antoni over Jackson could be the right call for the Lakers, but they have handled this entire coaching change poorly.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Kings sign former college star Marshall Henderson to training camp deal

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT

    Marshall Henderson Marshall Henderson

    Henderson has played in Iraq and Qatar since going undrafted.

  2. Report: Russell Westbrook marrying longtime girlfriend this weekend

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Russell Westbrook Russell Westbrook

    Westbrook and Nina Earl have been together since college.

  3. Stephanie Ready to become first full-time female local NBA game color analyst

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    From twitter.com/StephanieReady From twitter.com/StephanieReady

    As an NBA League Pass junkie I’ll tell you why I’m happy — she’s good.

  4. Remembering Darryl Dawkins’ 20 greatest dunks (VIDEO)

    Aug 27, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwqxntu4mwq2otc2otkyntezmgm0njfmyjexywywmtdk AP

    If you’re keeping score at home, there are two shattered backboards on the list.

  5. Legendary Sixer, backboard-shattering dunker Darryl Dawkins dies at 58

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

    NBA House - Moynihan Station 2015 Getty Images

    Chocolate Thunder remained an ambassador of the game.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (2087)
  2. D. Rose (2008)
  3. K. Bryant (1753)
  4. J. Smith (1631)
  5. K. Irving (1624)
  1. T. Thompson (1488)
  2. A. Davis (1459)
  3. T. Wroten (1389)
  4. J. Embiid (1321)
  5. R. Rubio (1275)