Jackson, D’Antoni Top List Of Lakers Candidates

10:59pm: TNT's David Aldridge hears the Lakers are pursuing Phil Jackson "like crazy," but he would likely command a salary of more than the $12MM he made in 2009. That would make him the league's highest paid coach by a wide margin over Celtics boss Doc Rivers, who makes $7MM a year. The decision on a coach will be made by owner Jerry Buss, and not son Jim, Aldridge says, adding that Mike D'Antoni would welcome the chance to coach Steve Nash again.

9:34pm: A meeting between the Lakers and Jackson could happen by the end of the weekend, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

8:31pm: Phil Jackson and Mike D'Antoni are the leading candidates for the Lakers head coaching position, Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com report, adding that the two coaches are "neck and neck" in the eyes of Lakers management.

The team is expected to reach out to them and several other candidates as early as Saturday morning. Shelburne hears there's "no ill will" between Jackson and Lakers executive Jim Buss.

8:27pm: Former Jackson assistants Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons are prepared to return to the bench should Jackson get the Lakers job, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

8:13pm: Gary Payton, who played for the Lakers under Jackson, doesn't foresee a return, as he tells Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida (Sulia link). "Because he’d be going back into a situation where they blasted him when he left," Payton said. "You heard all that stuff (from the Lakers) when he left that they didn’t want to hire anybody affiliated with Phil Jackson’s system. That’s why they didn’t hire (Brian Shaw). They fired everybody that was affiliated with Phil."

7:19pm: "Prominent figures" in the Lakers organization want the team to hire Jackson, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Berger hears Jackson wanted to coach the Knicks this summer before they recommitted to Mike Woodson, and the Zen Master would have brought former assistant coach Kurt Rambis with him. If hired by the Lakers, Jackson would have his choice of assistants to bring on board.

Berger hears other names the Lakers are considering are Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Sloan and Nate McMillan. The Lakers haven't had contact with Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, whose team wouldn't let him walk midseason, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). Cavs coach Byron Scott isn't interested in the position, tweets The Plain Dealer. 

6:38pm: The Lakers have compiled a list of four or five candidates to become the team's new head coach, and the list includes Phil Jackson's name, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. McMenamin hears the Lakers have not yet reached out to Jackson, though a source hinted to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News that the two sides have had contact, as we passed along earlier.

Jackson, who finished his second stint as Lakers coach in 2011, is still a frequent visitor to the team's practice facility, McMenamin notes, and his longtime girlfriend is Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, daughter of team owner Jerry Buss. The 67-year-old Jackson has often cited his health as a reason why he wouldn't return to coaching, but McMenamin hears Jackson's health is "getting better and better."

Sources indicate to McMenamin that Jackson would like to bring along an assistant coach whom he could groom as an eventual replacement. Jackson was scheduled to make a speaking engagement at an investor's convention next week in Chicago, but has canceled, according to Financial Advisor magazine.

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