The Los Angeles Lakers have Phil Jackson back in the fold, but it appears that Dwight Howard won't be swayed toward re-signing in L.A. unless the Zen Master occupies a more permanent, substantial role with the organization, according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.
Jackson is currently serving as a sort of unofficial consultant. According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Jackson said of his role: "It's not something I expect them to rely on me for information. But I'm there to offer it. They asked if I can be of assistance. I said 'Yeah, I'll help in whatever area you need to have help.'"
Apparently, Howard is looking for a few more assurances that the most decorated head coach in NBA history is going to have a championship ring-laden hand in the team's development going forward.
Of course, it's also possible that the egomaniacal Howard merely wants to see the Lakers trot out all of their most impressive attributes in their efforts to woo him. And even though the chatter we're hearing about Howard's feelings on Jackson is coming from his representatives (and not directly from him), it's exactly these types of "gimme what I want" statements that have turned off a lot of Lakers fans.
And if Howard's not careful, he might also risk alienating the one guy he seems interested in having around for his meeting.
Per Medina's report, Jackson currently has no plans to return to coaching. So it's unclear what kind of role the Lakers could find for him that would help appease Howard.
Truthfully, it probably doesn't matter to Howard what Jackson's duties are with the Lakers. In all likelihood, he's much more concerned with the team's broken-down roster, inability to replenish its talent base until the summer of 2014 and the mismatched fit with current coach Mike D'Antoni.
Those are the immediate problems with the franchise, and you can bet they'll be the first topics of discussion when L.A. makes its official sales pitch to Howard after July 1.