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Phil Jackson could replace Jim Buss if the Lakers strike out in free agency

But it wouldn't happen until next summer

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers' first order of business right now is to wrap up their coaching search before free agency. The team has already interviewed Luke Waltona meeting that reportedly went "well," with interviews with Ettore Messina and David Blatt still to come.

The Lakers getting a coach in place before attempting to woo free agents is something they didn't do the last time they had to undergo a coaching search, and an important step if reports are true that they want their next head coach to be "a recruiter-in-chief.'

Free agency is hugely important for the Lakers this year because of Lakers vice president Jim Buss' self-imposed deadline to return the team to the Western Conference Finals by next summer or step down. The team has missed out on making significant improvements in free agency the last few summers, and according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, a regime change could be on the horizon if it happens again (h/t Lakers Outsiders):

Given his close relationship with his fiancee and Lakers president Jeanie Buss, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has been frequently rumored to be on the verge of a return to Los Angeles as an executive next summer. Jackson reportedly has an opt-out in his contract that would allow him to return to the Lakers next summer, and there has been so much smoke you have to wonder if there is fire (or at least if Rick Carlisle was right about the way Jackson spends his time in Montana).

We won't know for sure what is going to happen until next summer, but it sounds more and more likely that the coach who captained the Lakers' last five championship teams could be on his way back to the team next year.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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