Another day, another Phil Jackson inquiry. A day after reports of the Chicago Bulls using some back-door communication to gauge Phil Jackson’s interest, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting the Nets have also inquired about the 10-time championship coach.
Here’s what ESPN had to say:
The Bulls are not alone in registering interest in a coaching reunion with Jackson. NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein on Tuesday that the New Jersey Nets have made similar back-channel inquiries about their chances of luring Jackson away from the Los Angeles Lakers at season’s end.
After 11 seasons and two championships as a player with the New York Knicks, Jackson’s first coaching experience came with the Nets during the final two seasons of his active career in 1978-79 and 1979-80, when he served as a player-assistant under Kevin Loughery.
Although the Nets privately acknowledge the long-shot nature of tempting Jackson away from Los Angeles, given the 64-year-old’s recent insistence that he’s “90 percent” certain he’ll coach the Lakers if he coaches anywhere next season, sources with knowledge of New Jersey’s thinking have maintained for weeks that new owner Mikhail Prokhorov is determined to make the splashiest hire he can.
I have the same thought on this that I had when I first heard the Bulls story yesterday; do these teams have any respect? Last time I checked, Jackson is still coaching the Los Angeles Lakers, a team with a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals and NBA title aspirations. The last thing a team needs right now is some kind of distraction, especially one that could take away from what they are trying to accomplish.
While neither of the inquiries have come through direct contact, behind-the-scenes talks and media leaking is the same thing as offering Jackson a job. Jackson needs to either come out publicly or send the message behind closed doors that he will no longer have any conversation about his coaching status for next season until he is finished with this postseason. He owes it to his team to not allow any further distractions to develop. With Andrew Bynum’s knee issues, Lamar Odom’s inconsistency, and Ron Artest’s erratic shooting, the Lakers have enough to deal with on a daily basis without wondering if their coach is 100% committed to what they are trying to do.
All the blame can’t be placed on Jackson for this issue however, as Lakers management needs to step up to the plate and deliver. There have already been reports that Jackson will have to take a pay-cut if he is to stay on as Lakers coach. However, Jackson publicly came out and stated that if he were going to coach next year there was about a 90% chance it would be with the Los Angeles. It is on Lakers management to not let that other 10% become a possibility, and pay Jackson whatever it takes for him to stick around.
If Jerry Buss truly believes that any other coach could command Kobe’s respect, control Artest from doing anything crazy, and keep Odom focused while trying to encourage the growth of a young center in Bynum, he has truly become a delusional old man.
Belal Abdelfattah is BSO’s newest writer and comes from a long background in sports writing at the Sports Authority Blog and The Block Radio. You can follow Belal on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/belal_a