Lakers Rumors: Phil Jackson Reportedly Extremely Likely to Return to Team

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2012

EL SEGUNDO, CA - MAY 11:  Former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson during a news conference at the Lakers training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With the firing of head coach Mike Brown (h/t USA Today) after a 1-4 start and the installation of the putrid Princeton offense, the Los Angeles Lakers organization is reportedly considering bringing back the team’s former coach and NBA legend, Phil Jackson.

UPDATE: Saturday, November 10 at 8:05 p.m. ET by Mike Shiekman

The Lakers met with Phil Jackson about the Lakers' coaching vacancy on Saturday, and it will not be their last get-together, as Mike Trudell reports:

Phil Jackson met with LAL GM Mitch Kupchak & Exec VP Jim Buss today. They plan to meet again in a couple days.

— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 10, 2012

That Jackson will meet again with the Lakers' brass should bring cautious optimism for the L.A. faithful.

A second meeting exemplifies interest from Jackson's side, but they'll need to shore out the details of his role and contract before he signs on the dotted line.

--End of Update--

UPDATE: Saturday, November 10 at 5:28 p.m. ET by Richard Langford

All signs point towards this being Phil's job if he wants it. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, among others, shared this news. 

Lakers' meeting with Phil Jackson is over. No official job offer was made but it's well understood that the job is Jackson's if he wants it.

— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 10, 2012

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein also reported on this news from information gathered from sources and add that Phil would be up for a return should the conditions be right. 

What those right conditions are extends beyond Jackson's health and willingness to return to coaching after retiring after the 2010-11 season. It would need to be "a philosophical match," according to sources.

Issues such as how much control over personnel decisions Jackson will want and whether he would travel to all games -- issues that became problematic during Jackson's last stint with the team -- surely will be raised.

Now it just sounds like the two sides need to agree on working conditions, relationships and roles. We'll see if they can do that. 

---End of update---

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times is reporting on the likelihood that the Lakers would re-sign the former coach:

The Lakers are moving quickly toward hiring Phil Jackson as their next coach, with one person in the organization calling it a "95 percent" chance he will return for a third tour with the team.

The Lakers plan on meeting with Jackson on Saturday morning to make sure he is interested in the job. The unknown five percent in their equation is the chance Jackson doesn't want to fill the vacancy created by the Friday firing of Mike Brown, either because of health reasons or other unknown issues.

The mixture of so many egos on one team, such high expectations for this season and the urgency of winning now with so many older stars has forced the Lakers to realize that they have no choice; they must bring back Phil Jackson to be successful this season.


What It Means

While there weren’t many who believed interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff was the future of the franchise, the speed in which the team has gone after a replacement proves there is no plan to retain Bickerstaff in any other capacity than as an assistant.

Many names had been thrown around since Brown was fired—Jerry Sloan and Mike D’Antoni to name just two—but the main focus of the team was always suspected to be Jackson. With a familiarity and relationship with the organization and the players, the NBA legend is a no-brainer.

Los Angeles was foolish to let him leave in the first place; no matter how much he wanted to retire.


What’s Next?

Brown wasn’t getting the most out of the All-Star team the Lakers had built this offseason, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. While injuries played a part, the awful idea of implementing the Princeton offense was ultimately the death of his time in L.A.

If Jackson does return, he will re-institute the triangle offense that made the Lakers championship worthy every season during the legendary coach’s tenure.

With so much talent and the door wide open for Jackson to rush in and save the day, the NBA legend’s ego will be too big to turn the job down.


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