There’s still an even-money chance that Phil Jackson could be running the Lakers next season, according to Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register.
The current Knicks president has an opt-out clause in his contract effective July 1st, and Heisler said some insiders from both organizations expect Jackson to wind up in L.A. The writer describes the situation as “fluid” and says the odds of a move are about 50-50, with a lot of things left to determine whether it will happen.
One of those factors is whether Knicks owner Jim Dolan sees enough improvement to want to keep paying Jackson $12MM per year. Coming off three straight seasons of missing the playoffs, New York is off to an 8-8 start after major moves such as the hiring of coach Jeff Hornacek, a trade for Derrick Rose and the free agent signing of Joakim Noah. Also, players have openly complained about the team’s adherence to the triangle offense, with Carmelo Anthony saying, “I’m getting tired of hearing about the triangle.”
Heisler describes Jackson as naturally shy and only comfortable with a few people, which helps to explain the hiring of former Laker Derek Fisher as head coach. Fisher was fired midway through last season and replaced with Kurt Rambis, another former Laker.
Add in the recent controversy over his “posse” comments, and there is reason to believe that Jackson may be looking to escape the turmoil of New York.
In Los Angeles, his fiance, Jeanie Buss, seems poised to assume complete control of the Lakers in the wake of her brother Jim’s comments that he would step down if he couldn’t make the team a contender in two years. The expiration date on that promise is about to arrive, and there is speculation that her first move would be to bring Jackson back to the organization.
Buss tried to hire him before he joined the Knicks, but was turned down by the rest of the management team. She chose not to fight because she knew her late father didn’t want bickering within the organization, but by next summer there may be no one to stand in her way.