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Raptors Increase Pursuit Of Phil Jackson

Now that the NBA's relocation committee has recommended denying a potential Kings move to Seattle, the Raptors have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson as team president, according to's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. Because Jackson and Seattle investor Chris Hansen had "hit it off," Toronto had viewed Seattle as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch, the duo reports.

With Seattle seemingly out of the picture, the Raptors, led by new MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke, believe they represent Jackson's most attractive current option. Although there's some skepticism around the league about the Zen Master's willingness to relocate to Canada, Leiweke's "vision and energy" as well as his shared success with Jackson in Los Angeles should ensure that the 11-time champion gives the pitch serious consideration.

According to Ken Berger of, while Jackson will consider Toronto's pitch, he's also interested in exploring his options with other potential suitors, as many have reached out to the former Lakers coach through back channels. Berger reiterates that there are doubts around the NBA about how interested Jackson is in lottery teams like the Raptors or Bobcats, but says Jackson appears open to listening to any team willing to offer him an influential position.

Berger reports that Jackson may be more interested in an advisory role similar to the one Jerry West holds with the Warriors, rather than a position like Pat Riley's presidency with the Heat. The scribe also expects teams, such as the Nets, to continue to pursue Jackson for coaching openings, offering him a significant voice in basketball operations as well.

Stein and Shelburne first reported last week that the Raptors were considering making a run at Jackson.

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