- Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida talked to former Jackson-era Laker Gary Payton about Jackson’s potential return: “Like just about everybody else, Gary Payton believes Phil Jackson would be the best fit for the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching job. But the future Hall of Famer doesn’t see Jackson wanting to come back. ‘Because he’d be going back into a situation where they blasted him when he left,” Payton said in a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida, referring to Jackson leaving the Lakers in 2011 and being replaced by Mike Brown, who was fired Friday. ‘You heard all that stuff (from the Lakers) when he left that they didn’t want to hire anybody affiliated with Phil Jackson’s system (the triangle offense). That’s why they didn’t hire (then-Lakers assistant Brian Shaw). They fired everybody that was affiliated with Phil.’ “
- The biggest buzz is clearly about Jackson, but here’s what LeBron James had to say about the firing of Mike Brown, his former coach in Cleveland, via Michael Wallace of ESPN.com: “James doesn’t believe his former coach in Cleveland ever got a “fair shake” in Los Angeles and was stunned when he learned Brown was fired by the Lakers on Friday after their 1-4 start to the season. James played five years for Brown with the Cavaliers before Brown was fired by Cleveland after the 2009-10 season, just weeks before James departed in free agency to sign with Miami. ‘I think it’s unfortunate,” James said Friday after the Heat’s win in Atlanta against the Hawks. ‘I just don’t think he got a fair shake, honestly. With the shortened season last year, and five games into this year, he didn’t really get a full season.’ “
- In some non-Phil Jackson news, here’s Michael Lee of the Washington Post with an update on former All-Star Josh Howard, who is currently out of work: “Josh Howard doesn’t know when or if the phone call is coming, he only knows that he wants to be ready. Four days a week, Howard trains in Dallas with the hope that eventually some team will find the value in adding a former All-Star small forward who has been to the NBA Finals and reached the playoffs in seven of his nine seasons. ‘I’m just a surprise waiting to happen for anybody that picks me up,’ Howard, a former Wizard, said in a recent telephone interview. ‘Of course, I am at the end of my career, as far as what they consider older guys, but I’ve got a lot left in the tank.’ The new collective bargaining agreement has left several 30-something former all-star caliber NBA veterans out in the cold, forcing some (Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas) to seek work in China. Other others (Howard, Kenyon Martin, Michael Redd) have had to be exceedingly patient or ponder their futures as the league leans on younger and cheaper alternatives. Rosters are set on NBA teams, meaning that a player would likely have to be injured or waived to create a spot for the 32-year-old Howard.”
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com talked to Jose Calderon about persistent trade talk involving him: “I think I’m going to be in the news a lot during the whole year [because of his expiring contract]. … I’ve just got to be professional. That’s what I’ve been doing for these [past] eight years. [By] now you’re going to like my game or not, but that [trade] stuff I cannot control. I don’t need to worry about what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going on [in the] next few days or months or February [leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline]. I’m just trying to do my job. Whatever minutes the coach [gives] me, that’s what I’m going to take and play my best.”
- Stein also has an interesting look at Jonny Flynn’s deal to play in Australia with the Melbourne Tigers: “Flynn, taken No. 6 overall by Minnesota in the 2009 draft, couldn’t generate anything more in free agency this past summer than a non-guaranteed invite to training camp from the Pistons, who began the season with a full 15 guaranteed contracts. He then found himself behind Will Bynum and even Terrence Williams (who also was released) in the Pistons’ pecking order when they let him go last month. The Tigers, though, make far more sense as the launching pad for Flynn’s road back than it appears on the surface. As far away as Australia is, Melbourne is coached by former NBA center Chris Anstey — his first coaching job, at age 37. The 7-footer, drafted by Portland on Dallas’ behalf with the No. 18 overall pick in 1997, was one of the first clients for agent Leon Rose. And Rose happens to represent Flynn. Sources with knowledge of the deal say Flynn’s contract with Melbourne has an out clause that allows for an immediate return to the NBA if someone calls. If Flynn had done what most players in his sneakers are doing these days — taking the big money in China — he would have been prevented from coming back to the States until the end of the Chinese season in March.”
Dan Malone is a third-year journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He blogs on weekends for Sheridan Hoops.