There is a lot of speculation and conjecture out there today regarding Phil Jackson’s possible return to the Los Angeles Lakers, but one piece of information has a lot more meat on the bone than others.
It comes from Ric Bucher, formerly of ESPN and now writing hoops for CSNBayArea.com, and it says one of Jackson’s desires is to have final say on personnel decisions — which would render both Jim Bus and Mitch Kupchak relatively powerless.
An excerpt from Bucher’s report: “One source described the possibility of Jackson returning, should a suitable offer be made, as “strong.” The Lakers are in need of a new head coach after firing Mike Brown Friday morning, the timing of which, if not the decision itself, completely blindsided Brown, a source said. The abruptness and timing of the decision – five games into Brown’s first full season – was credited by one source to Lakers legend and former part-owner Magic Johnson finally winning “a turf war” with the younger Buss and convincing Lakers’ patriarch, Jerry Buss, that Brown must go. Johnson, the source said, would like to see former Laker and current Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw succeed Brown. Johnson, an ESPN and ABC analyst, has been repeatedly critical of Brown and last year announced that Brown would be fired if the Lakers failed to get past the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. The Lakers won the best-of-seven series, 4-3, before losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round, 4-1, but Kupchak dismissed any validity to Johnson’s remarks. A source close to Johnson, meanwhile, said talk of him being involved in Brown’s ouster now was “categorically untrue.” Jackson, while romantically involved with Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, has long had a strained relationship with her brother Jim. When Jackson’s last contract with the team expired following the 2010-11 season, Jim was granted authority over the team’s basketball operations by his father, Jerry, and seemed committed to shifting away from the team’s methodology under Jackson, including his Triangle offense. That offense almost assuredly would return if Jackson were granted authority and/or Shaw, a long-time assistant coach of Jackson during his Lakers’ tenure, were hired. Sources say there is a scenario in which both Jackson and Shaw would be hired, with Shaw as the head coach mentored by Jackson. Jackson proposed a similar arrangement to the Portland Trail Blazers at one point last summer, sources say, with former assistant Kurt Rambis as his head-coach protegè and Jackson overseeing basketball operations, but the Blazers declined.”