There were reasons why Jackson did not return to coaching, including this possibility: Could it be that Jackson wants to change his game plan and build a championship team from scratch?
Let’s assume that the NBA’s bigwigs approve the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. Also that, according to a semi-reliable source, Phil Jackson will indeed sign on to supervise the entire basketball operations of the resurrected Seattle SuperSonics.
Given these presumptions, several questions present themselves, questions that Jackson will not address unless or until this parley of events comes to pass. However, without consulting PJ, here are my personal takes on the hows and whys of the situation.
Why is he returning to the NBA wars in the first place?
Because Jackson always has had a sharp and combative competitive edge. Yes, he’s done his share of traveling – including a motorcycle tour of New Zealand and Australia – but there are no winners and losers in the travel game.
He’s also made numerous (and lucrative) presentations to high-powered CEOs about teamwork and such. But most of these audiences just wanted the chance to be in his company and schmooze with him before and after his speeches. They would have been satisfied if he had read the New York City phone book.
Because, in the end, PJ simply has a basketball Jones.
Why not return to coaching?
Because he has two artificial hips, one mechanical knee, a stent in his heart and has dealt with a kidney stone. All of which makes it impossible for him to be the kind of hands-on coach that he needs to be.
Since there certainly have been several other opportunities to be the Pat Riley of other franchises, why Seattle?
Because the city and its environs are incredibly beautiful. Because, after his stints in New York and Chicago, he has had his fill of living in cold-weather climates. (He only dwells in snow-bound Montana during the summers.) And perhaps because the perspective new owners will give him free rein and maybe even a piece of the action. Also, he might relish the idea of competing with – and eventually surpassing – the Lakers in the Pacific Division.
Not to forget that his fiancée, Jeanie Buss, would only be a short flight away.
Whom might he hire to coach the team?
Bet your bottom dollar that Brian Shaw would be the coach. Add some other familiar suits to the bench – Jim Cleamons, Frank Hamblen and – depending on his current employment – Kurt Rambis. Also expect Ronnie Lester to serve as general manager.
But since Jackson has always specialized in prompting championship wanna-bes to actually winning NBA titles, what possibilities does the sad-sack Sacramento roster offer? And which players are keepers and which are losers?
As currently constituted, the Kings aren’t even a playoff team. Here’s a rundown of the core personnel: