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Report: Phil Jackson “itching” to return to NBA, but not only as coach

Apr 17, 2013, 2:14 PM EDT

Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Jackson speaks during a ceremony to retire jersey #34 in honor of former Los Angeles Lakers player O'Neal during their NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles Reuters

NBA coaching is a grind — a lot of time spent in dark film rooms making game plans, lots of travel and odd hours, a lot of stress and a lot of drama.

When he left the Lakers and the NBA a couple years ago, Jackson seemed done with that grind.

But after a couple years away from the NBA Phil Jackson wants to get back in — just not as a coach necessarily, reports Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne writing for

After nearly two seasons in retirement, Phil Jackson has become increasingly interested in working in the NBA next season, according to sources familiar with his thinking….

That doesn’t necessarily mean a return to coaching, as Jackson is known to be intrigued by the concept of moving into management for the first time in his career.

What he is talking about is more of the Pat Riley role where he oversees the franchise but has others running the details of the plan. Riley’s job sounds pretty good the way he described it recently, speaking with the Miami Herald.

“I get up at 11 o’clock and walk into the office with Andy [Elisburg] and Nick [Arison] and we sit down and talk about … nothing. We’re just going to go watch this team win.”

That is likely appealing to Jackson. Heck, that job description sounds appealing to me. Throw in an open bar in the office and it’s Mad Men.

But in Jackson’s case, teams likely are going to ask him to coach and have some front office power, then have the relationship evolve.

But NBA coaching sources say that stance will not dissuade teams with openings from approaching Jackson this offseason to gauge his interest, with the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers — who interviewed Jackson in 2005 and are known to be contemplating a coaching change — potentially at the top of the list.

This does not include the Lakers. Sorry Los Angeles, I know that’s not what you want to hear. But the reality is the Lakers are going to bring Mike D’Antoni back and give him a full season with a (hopefully) healthy roster and see what he can do. Bringing in Jackson would be both expensive and tilt the power structure in the organization, neither of those is likely to happen at all.

  1. melkipershero - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Basically GM or bust.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 18, 2013 at 6:47 AM

      let me remind everyone, there is another basketball team in LA

  2. Rich Peters - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Reblogged this on Higher Ground.

    • florida727 - Apr 18, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Actually I prefer the initial blog of this. Kind of like refried beans. Why would I eat something that’s been re-done? :) Time to go pimp your site somewhere else.

  3. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:33 PM


    …ah who am I kidding, he wouldn’t go there if we paid him $50 mil a year. Sigh.

    • badintent - Apr 17, 2013 at 11:46 PM

      But we can dream , Eh ?

  4. kotapug - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Welcome to Minnesota. Kahn will be fired
    If Rick decides that he needs to be with his wife than this would be a great team and franchise to take control of.

    • bougin89 - Apr 17, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      The triangle offense isn’t a good fit for traditional PG’s like Ricky Rubio. They have other pieces that would be very good fits like Love and Kirilenko but if Minnesota was smart they would build their offense around Rubio’s playmaking and Love as the first scoring option.

  5. ravensallday2012 - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Jordan better come calling to get him to Charlotte

  6. giantssb42champs - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:46 PM


  7. eugenesaxe - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Report: Phil Jackson “itching”

    They have creams for that stuff, Phil.

  8. xliontamer - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:52 PM


  9. shuttaman1990 - Apr 17, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Jeannie Buss will have to use her charm to make him go to LA after what baby dumb buss did.

    It’s ok.
    D’Antoni gotta go.

    • 4thquartermagic - Apr 17, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Nah sorry LA. Without a HOF’r or two, Phil won’t sign up to save your franchise again.

      Think about it, how great of a job is it going to be in LA with sky-high expectations and no Kobe until maybe January of next year?

      Not a Zen proposition at all.

  10. cantonbound13 - Apr 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Next GM of Seattle Kings

  11. paulhargis53 - Apr 17, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    It boggles the mind that there are STILL lakers fans that think PJ is coming back to L.A. Not happening, not with Jerry passing away. Its done and over. The window has not only closed on getting Phil back, but also with contending for titles. Kobes injury, at his age, was the final nail in that coffin.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 17, 2013 at 11:41 PM

      Right, because the only time the Lakers have contended in their history is with Kobe. Now that he’s injured, they will never contend again.

  12. 4thquartermagic - Apr 17, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Zen Master interviewed with Cleveland in 2005? Wow, must’ve been a smokescreen to get Jerry Buss to pay up.

  13. hahapapa - Apr 17, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Utah ?

  14. mogogo1 - Apr 17, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    If he’s floating this story it’s either just to give himself another ego massage…or he’s got something already lined up and wants to create some artificial demand to get a better deal or more control.

  15. coats2m - Apr 17, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Since Phil and Jeanie Buss recently got engaged after years of dating, I am wondering when the wedding is, and once that is done, how will the NBA react to a conflict of interest, when you have a husband of a co-owner of an NBA franchise as a G/Coach of another team?? At some point the league will have to come in to protect what little credibility they have left. Will there not be allowed any trades between the two teams?

    • thestewman3 - Apr 17, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      Nepotism is rife in all pro sports. Billionaire owner’s hire their relatives and friends all the time. Eventually some of these relatives and friends move on to other teams. For your example in the NFL Parcells and Scott Pioli are in-laws and have traded in the past.

      • mazblast - Apr 17, 2013 at 6:14 PM

        Yeah, that worked out so well for both sides.

    • mazblast - Apr 17, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      Of course the league will allow trades between the two franchises, as long as they work out lopsidedly in favor of the big-market team.

      I don’t think Phil cares about winning, just about the money and the attention. If the team wins, fine, he’ll sit back and let the media idolize him; if they don’t, he’ll make his Zen BS observations, fire the coach, and make it known that (as always) it’s never his fault if his team loses.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 17, 2013 at 11:42 PM

        “Of course the league will allow trades between the two franchises, as long as they work out lopsidedly in favor of the big-market team.”

        Like when they allowed the CP3 to the Lakers trade?

  16. trippymane - Apr 17, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    He is going to go with the sonics. There were reports a few months back when Hansen bought the kings that Phil Jackson was interested in becoming the president for the Seattle Sonics, so yeah hopefully he makes the sonics a winning franchise like we were in the 90’s

  17. tcclark - Apr 17, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    We’d love to have him in Philly. Holiday, Turner, Bynum(?) running the Triangle could work

  18. wsuperman4445 - Apr 17, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Okay here is a senerio that you did not see coming.Phil to the Sonic’s as their GM with over all control of everything (kinda like Riley in Miami) Kobe signs the Max Contract that he would not have gotten with the lakers and signs on with the Sonics. ( let that sink in…) then Nikola Vucevic center and Tobias Harris SF from the Magic ( young talent) other picks/Journey/Role Players and Seattle are contenders within a year…

    • melkipershero - Apr 17, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Kobe wont be a free agent until after next season. Because the Lakers own his Bird Rights they can sign him for more money. Pek is a restricted free agent this seaaon and will get a 4 year contract. I like your optimism, but you kind of ran off the rails.

      • melkipershero - Apr 17, 2013 at 6:49 PM

        Whoops not Pek. Either way how do you figure Orlando lets NV walk though?

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 17, 2013 at 11:45 PM

      I like your thinking. If we’re talking about NBA 2K13 this would be pretty realistic.

  19. dannymac17 - Apr 17, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    If VDN fails, I am sure DOnald will throw whatever money at em.

  20. wsuperman4445 - Apr 17, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    normally I would say that the Magic would not but this team has a history of ” letting” good players go. .so I don’t see it as a unrealistic option.. or…Andrew Bynum to Seattle? as far as Kobe.. the future is Dwight.. lakers don’t have it to sign both Kobe and Dwight to max contracts and still be contenders… like before they had a choice between Kobe and Shaq and they choose youth ( kobe) well here is History repeating it self but this time it might be Kobe that would have to leave… Seattle would love Kobe ( as would any other team) even though he is 34+ he still can make your team a contender and most important for seattle, short of winning a title is the fact that he and Jackson can still fill seats. and lets not forget you still have some good picks from the current roster ( cousins among others) that a team could be developed with Kobe.

  21. kjereld615 - Apr 17, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    If I’m not mistaken the Nets are still running with an interim head coach and the 76rs are going to be without a coach next year, however I doubt he goes near either of those. To me the best choice is the other L.A team. I’ve never trusted Vinny and I’m not even a Clippers fan, but a Celtics fan. He looks like the kind of coach that can get by during the regular season because of the talent he has on the court, but when the playoffs come and the team needs plays to go along with that talent, he shows his true incapability at running a team. Phil would shine with a CP3 at point and Blake Griffin, cause lets face it Phil is not coming back to join a rebuilding team or a team that is barely making the playoffs like the Bucks or Jazz. He’s going to a team with a good chance at winning a title, and to me the only questionable coach in the playoffs, other than the Nets, would be Vinny.

  22. deavn - Apr 17, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    He needs to come to the Cavs

    • metalhead65 - Apr 18, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      stop dreaming, if your team does not have at least 2 hall of fame players then forget it. he does not build teams he only takes over teams with all the pieces in place ready to win. he will not risk his reputation even for a front office position later on being responsible for building a winner.

  23. manchestermiracle - Apr 18, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    Any speculation about Jackson coaching is DOA. One of the few sane reasons the Lakers didn’t re-hire him was because he didn’t want to go on road trips. What team would want a part-time head coach? A position in a front-office role makes more sense.

  24. denverdude7 - Apr 18, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Ok Mr. Jackson. It sounds like you are ready for a challenge.

    Here’s one for you. Come to Cleveland and win a championship for the long suffering fans of the Cavaliers.

    After LeBron’s antics it’s the least you could do. (If you have the stones for it that is)

  25. florida727 - Apr 18, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Bring him back to Chicago. What the heck, he already has 6 rings from there, why not a few more?

    Look at it practically… He’d have the superstar (DRose – Jordan) that his system requires. And he’d have a defense-minded and pass-first center (Noah – Cartwright) that his system requires. He’d have the athletic stretch 3 (Jimmy Butler – Pippen). He’d also have his premier outside shooter 2 (Heinrich) than he used to have in Paxson/Kerr. Makes a lot of sense.

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