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Fun speculation: Toronto may make run at Phil Jackson for front office

Apr 26, 2013, 5:22 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

If you like some speculation and to connect the dots, we have a story for you: A move that got notice on the sports business pages could be the first step in a series of moves that lead to front page headlines:

Phil Jackson running the Toronto Raptors.

We’re a long, long way from that. But Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne started to connect the dots in an story and we’ll follow along because it’s too fun not to.

It all starts with the fact Tim Leiweke was just hired as the new president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Raptors (and Maple Leafs of the NHL, as well as other sports entities). Most of the nation just said “who?” but people in Los Angeles know Leiweke as the former CEO of AEG who was a force in Los Angeles sports — he got Staples Center built, he got AEG to buy a stake in the Lakers (estimated at 30 percent), he brought David Beckham to the Galaxy of the MLS, and he got plans for a downtown NFL arena in L.A. farther than any other man has. He’s a man who likes to make bold, big moves.

From there we let Stein and Shelburne connect the dots.

Sources told this week that the Raptors have interest in talking with Jackson about the Pat Riley-style role he craves in charge of a team’s basketball operations. reported last week that Jackson, after nearly two seasons in retirement, is itching to return to the NBA next season, preferably in a role similar to Riley’s in Miami that allows him to oversee both the basketball department and the coaching staff or perhaps as a high-level consultant such as Jerry West in Golden State.

Leiweke is a major player in the sports industry, and Jackson is all-too-familiar with his work in Los Angeles, where he helped get the Staples Center.

Leiweke can get Jackson to pick up the phone (and he’s taking meetings with everyone who calls anyway, he wants back in). While reports had been that current Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo will keep his job — and with him coach Dwane Casey stays in place — you’d have to explore the Jackson idea if you’re the Raptors, don’t you?

It’s easy to think of ways this falls apart. Jackson thinks it over and decides he doesn’t want to move to Toronto for the winter. The Raptors are not willing to meet Jackson’s financial demands, which you know will be steep. Jackson has options — he said he’s had exploratory talks with a few teams and the buzz is one of those is Seattle should they buy the Kings — and he may choose another location to jump back in the league.

But stranger things have happened. The biggest problem with the Raptors in recent years seems to be a lack of a plan — they have assembled some nice pieces but there is no overarching design. Jackson would be the big-picture kind of guy they need. Whether he has the skills to execute that in a front office role remains to be seen. Plus wherever Jackson lands there will be a clamor for him to return to the bench, something he is not eager to do.

But it’s out there. And it’s fun to talk about even if it is unlikely.

  1. Sideline Mob - Apr 26, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Phil Jackson wouldn’t work for that organization if they moved the franchise to right outside his house in Montana and renamed it the Helena Zen Masters.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 26, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      you know Phil?

      Phil isn’t leaving Cali for Toronto, no matter how great that place is……

      • badintent - Apr 27, 2013 at 12:59 AM

        Canada is prepare to offer, 100 beaver pelts, 2000 caribou, 5 stuffed moose heads,100 gallons of maple syrup. 2 igloos and all the BC bud he can smoke.Cali can’t beat that .! Jackson lives in Montana for a reason .To be near Canada. Google canadian town of Nelson.Near Montana border , major BC bud supplier . Connect the dots.Phil ain’t smoking Mex dog doo doo

      • fanofevilempire - Apr 27, 2013 at 7:20 AM

        Montana is close to Toronto, my map is wrong……
        .maybe I have it upside down, oh yeah…………

  2. money2long - Apr 26, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    seriously, the raptors could be nice if they had an all star power forward. if phil jackson could make some smart maneuvers with that team, they could be a very enticing team.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 26, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      come on man, Phil isn’t going there.

      • money2long - Apr 26, 2013 at 7:15 PM

        i’m not saying he will, i’m just going with the flow of the article, which is fun speculation. just talking some speculation talk. that’s all.

  3. michaeljordanseviltwin - Apr 26, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    I just heard that Jeanie Buss is technically the new owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. Why would it be her name instead of Jim? What if there’s a plot to get Phil Jackson back with the Lakers in a front office/ownership role? He plans to marry Jeanie soon.

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 27, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      There is a complex trust where the six Buss children have shared ownership of the Lakers, but with Jim and Jeanie in lead roles for the group, him basketball side her business. None of the children can sell out unless they all agree and sell out. At least that’s what I was told.

  4. jimeejohnson - Apr 26, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Phil might want to try Canada; after all, he lives in the north country of Montana and Canada is not that far away. Toronto is a world class city, culturally speaking. They haven’t won anything worth winning in a long time, but winning isn’t everything. Whadya mean, “no”?

    • davidly - Apr 27, 2013 at 4:17 AM

      It’s over 2000 miles away from his place in Montana, about 700 miles farther away than his home in Cali.

  5. sdb74 - Apr 26, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Zero chance Phil is going to have any association whatsoever w/the Toronto Raptors.

  6. canadatude - Apr 26, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Maybe he wants to move to a city where he won’t get shot in a drive-bye. He spent a lot of years in Chicago with a similar climate. The team has some talent but needs direction. Kind of challenge he might be looking for.

    • lucifershuttlesworth - Apr 26, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      No gun problems in Canada i guess hey? Did you read about the dude in BC getting shot to death outside the Steve Nash Fitness World yesterday?

      • badintent - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:03 AM

        that’s why I quit my gym in Vancouver. Too many wanna be gangtas

  7. cdnbeerbuzz - Apr 26, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    This a big city here, with sports franchises that are rich and under achieving!
    I’m thinking this could be a big ego boost for this big personality!

  8. Derwin Worrell - Apr 27, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    Absolutely no way Phil Jackson would even entertain Toronto. You have wasted your time writing that article. That is all. Nothing to see here, move on.

  9. vichethking - Apr 27, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Hello, Guys Im trully a 100 percent loyal Lakers fan for thos great francise.
    I loved this team and I always like it when we get to the playoffs regardless of what team we played.
    But somehow or something tell me that this year is not our best. Because the owner son Jim Buss made 2 critical mistakes that cost our team in a big whole that we cannot recover the greatful season that we all loved. 1 mistake is he didn’t hire the best coach of all time that is Phil Jackson 11 time NBA Championship with 11 rings making it 12 if got hired. 2 mistake is to hire a coach that Steve Nash used to play for in Phoenix. Did he win a Championship that a big NO. And getting Howard from Orlando is a big plus packaged to win it all with Phil Jackson as head coach. He know how to group NBA superstars lineup with a deal that send the other team packing. We have a great lineup that can win mutiple Championship with Howard, Gasol, Kobe, Nash. What a blow to get the playoff and possibly getting sweep by the stupid Spurs. Next season if we don’t hired Phil Jackson as head coach kiss the beloved Lakers team goodbye. And yes Kobe will not play for us next season if Jim Buss steal managed the team and not hire Phil Jackson back. So Jim Buss like to win championship and carry his father legacy and do it with a old showtime style. Guess what happen when u don’t hired the best coach that win u 11 championship. U die with bad regrets and suffering that this team ever so used to winning now we join the Clippers on the edge of being destoyed in the playoffs and not win again for a while. So Jim Buss I have one thing to say to u Hire Phil Jackson back and get us those titles or forget about your dad legacy. U know that dismantle is good at what u do. Better set your direction and win again and proved to the fans like myself that this team will win again.

  10. buffalo65 - Apr 28, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Moving from the states to Canada???? No brainer. He’s as good as here

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