The cries from the Lakers fan base are about to get a lot louder.
According to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, Phil Jackson is "leaning towards" taking a front office job with the New York Knicks. Thus far, it's unclear whether or not the deal would include Jackson coaching the Knicks, for at least a short time, in addition to his duties as the final word on any personnel-related maneuvers.
Phil has made his desire for a decision-maker type role on a NBA team quite clear in recent years following a series of surgeries on his hips and knees. Almost a year ago, there were strong rumors that if the Sacramento Kings were to relocate to Seattle, that the new ownership group would have given Jackson the same type of position he seems to have secured with the Knicks. Beyond that speculation, Phil has taken a consultant job with the Detroit Pistons in their coaching search last season.
Jackson has publicly stated his fondness for New York and the Knicks organization, as he was a key part of the 1972-73 championship team that beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals for the franchise's most recent title. It's unsurprising if he were to return to the Knicks as the coda to his basketball career, a poetic move that he's sure to love. Moreover, it's completely unsurprising that New York has turned to Jackson to turn around their disastrous 2013-2014 season, as the fanbase has reacted extremely negatively to the front office and ownership. A basketball mind like Jackson's, no matter how unproven in this capacity, would give credibility to a Knicks organization that has made misstep after misstep for almost 15 years now.
If he is to take the position in New York, this will be Jackson's first official executive role of any kind. Though considered one of the greatest coaches in any organized professional sport, the "Zen Master" is completely unproven at this level of basketball operations. The Knicks are gambling on his knowledge and experience from over 50 years in the NBA to carry him through the initial bumps in his tenure.
The Lakers fan base is sure to react with anger and disappointment if this deal comes to pass, as the "We Want Phil" chants never truly cease in STAPLES Center. Ever since the team's fated coaching dalliance with Jackson over a year ago, Coach Mike D'Antoni and VP of Player Personnel Jim Buss have been the most frequent and intense targets of fan ire (though sometimes with good cause). This supercharged spotlight on the two may only get hotter with if this hiring is to go through.
More on this as it happens.
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