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

Apr 17, 2013, 2:14 PM EST

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 ESPNLA.com.

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.

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