Phil Jackson will reportedly listen to the Toronto Raptors' pitch to bring in the retired head coach as an executive. Jackson is making the right decision to consider the offer and should opt to join the Raptors provided the meetings go well.
According to a CBS Sports report by Ken Berger:
CBS Sports @CBSSports
Phil Jackson will listen to the Raptors' pitch to take over their basketball operations. http://t.co/WQJqyk2tl42013-4-30 13:44:19
While Jackson spent the majority of his coaching career leading the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal to championships, this would present a new type of challenge.
With 11 championship rings, Jackson has little left to prove. His legacy is all but set in stone, which means that the risk here is minimal. As a competitor, this presents a new type of challenge for the championship winning player and coach. The front office is a final frontier of sorts. Pat Riley has found success as an exec after winning as a player and a coach. It's time for Jackson to match.
If this turns out like Jordan's front-office venture (it surely can't be worse), Jackson can walk away still having more rings than fingers.
If Jackson can take over the struggling Raptors and turn them into a winner, his resume looks that much better. The Raptors haven't been to the playoffs since 2007-08 when they were ousted by the Orlando Magic in the first round.
The move would allow Jackson to get back into basketball without having to deal with the daily grind of being a head coach. He would have control over the team, most notably with the responsibility of personnel decisions.
The Raptors aren't without hope for next season, as they acquired a big piece in Rudy Gay. Without him in the lineup, the Raptors posted a winning percentage of .347 with their 17-32 record. With Gay on the court, the Raptors went 17-16 with a winning percentage of .515.
With Gay and DeMar DeRozan on the roster, the Raptors have some key players to build around. Jackson's touch could eventually shape them into playoff contenders.
Taking a look at the Raptors financial situation (via Hoopshype) shows that they are a little bit strapped for cash.
The biggest question mark on the roster is the contract of Andrea Bargnani. Due $11 million next season, Bargnani hasn't lived up to his price-point. The challenge there for Jackson would be to turn Bargnani into piece that will make the team more competitive.
The Raptors don't have much roster flexibility next season with making some trades. But the following season, the Raptors only have Bargnani, Landry Fields and DeRozan under contract with Gay having a player option and various others having team options.
Given how weak the Eastern Conference is, there is a chance for teams to step up and make the postseason in 2013-14 or shortly thereafter. Having won with some of the best players in the world, having success with this bunch in Toronto would silence the last of Jackson's critics.
National Post writer Bruce Arthur tweeted this interesting truth:
Bruce Arthur @bruce_arthur
Phil Jackson as the president of the Raptors would be the most interesting thing the Raptors have ever done.2013-4-26 18:19:33
Taking over as the team president for the Raptors would be a low-pressure, high-reward move for Jackson. In Toronto, he won't have to deal with the same demands to win as he's had in the past. With an organization that has only won a single postseason series, Jackson would be afforded the chance to grow this franchise over years rather than months.
This move would also put an end, at least for now, to the speculation of Jackson returning to the Los Angeles Lakers. Should he return, Jackson would have the weight of the basketball world on his shoulders. The demands to win would be tremendous.
If Jackson wants to return to basketball, the Raptors present a great alternative option. It's a decision that would allow him the chance to take on the responsibilities he wants in a calm atmosphere.
It would be great for both Jackson and the Raptors organization.