Phil Jackson, the current president of the New York Knicks, could return to Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the 2015-16 season, as per several reports.
Jackson, who coached the Lakers to five championships as a head coach, has an opt-out clause in his five-year, $60 million contract with the Knicks. With reports that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss could fire brother Jim Buss as VP of Basketball Operations, Jackson could swoop into the role.
Jeanie Buss and Jackson have been engaged for several years. Last year, Jeanie gave an ultimatum to her brother, promising to clean up the front office if the Lakers don’t make “a deep playoff run within three years.” For Jim, time is running out as the Lakers are set to miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote: “The theory that Jackson is ready to make the move west picked up steam on Monday when he announced that the first head coach he ever hired, Derek Fisher, would be the first head coach he’d fire.”
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports’ renowned scoop master, made a similar claim in his Monday night column: “There’s still a strong belief Jackson will eventually find his way to his fiancée Jeanie Buss and the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton will be competing with Thibodeau for the Lakers job in the spring, and who knows: Jackson and (Luke) Walton could be reunited there.”
Walton, the next Zen Master….
Walton, currently serving as assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors, won two championships under a Laker team coached by Phil Jackson. Therefore, it’s possible that Jackson and Walton re-unite in Los Angeles. After winning 11 championships with Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson is no longer interested in head coaching duties. In fact, back in 2012, Jackson was interested in returning to L.A. on an executive role but was turned down by Jim Buss.
Earlier this year, Kobe Bryant suggested that Walton was “the next Zen Master.” If Walton and Jackson are re-united in L.A., the former would get to learn from the original Zen Master.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith suggested on Sirius XM NBA Radio that Jackson wants to leave New York because Knicks owner James Dolan plans to bring Isiah Thomas on board.
“Walton is a West Coast guy, the way his boss, Steve Kerr, is too. Kerr turned down Jackson and New York, because he had far more attractive choices,” Wojnarowski wrote in his column.
It is no secret that Phil Jackson is a “West Coast guy,” too. He will be a lot more comfortable returning to L.A. where he resides with fiancée Jeanie Buss.