Today comes the first direct indication of where Phil Jackson's head is at in terms of coaching the Lakers next year. In his postseason exit interview with the team, he informed Dr. Buss that he is "leaning toward retiring" but that he hasn't made up his mind yet. On why he might retire, here are a couple things Phil had to say:
Some of it is about health. That's just the way I'm feeling right now. It's just something I'm going to sit with. . . .
I think it's actually easier to leave [a team that's in position to win again]. I'd be happy if they could go on and win without me. I think they have enough leadership on the floor and in the coaching staff.
Well, yeah. When you've got Derek Fisher on the floor, leadership is the least of your worries. Anyhow, today Phil will wrap up his usual run of yearly medical tests, after which he'll drive up to Montana and chill for a week. His plan is to make a decision by Friday, July 2nd.
It's exceedingly rare for an NBA champion to have to find a new coach in the offseason. The last time it happened was during the 1998-99 lockout, when Chicago hired Tim Floyd to coach the post-Jordan, post-Pippen, post-Phil Bulls. Before that, it hadn't happened since 1969, when Bill Russell retired from his position as player-coach of the Celtics and was replaced by Tommie Heinsohn.
Who might occupy Phil's chair if he does retire is pure speculation at this point, although Byron Scott and Brian Shaw are the names everyone seems obliged to mention. I've already contacted Dr. Buss and told him that I won't take the job for less than $15 million a year. Tough but fair - that's the Fishmore way.