The Los Angeles Lakers hired Luke Walton as the team's next head coach on Friday night, and the decision seemingly had nothing to do with his extensive ties to Phil Jackson. That's right, conspiracy theorists can put their tin foil hats away, because Kevin Ding of Bleacher report revealed in his column on Walton's hiring that "Lakers president Jeanie Buss, Jackson's fiancee and Jim's sister, did not make this decision on Walton, according to team sources."
According to Ding, Lakers president Jim Buss "appreciates" Walton's ties to Jackson, and from the sound of things, the Lakers basketball operations department has been given autonomy on this decision. This is good news, especially with the constant reports of a rift between the Buss siblings and rumors that Jeanie was beginning to involve herself in basketball decisions.
On Twitter, it appeared Jeanie was still excited about the hiring based off of her Twitter post on Saturday morning:
Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak being given full opportunity to build the Lakers as they see fit is good news, because even if some fans disagree with choices they've made, the business operations becoming involved in basketball decisions is never a good thing. And with rumors that Phil Jackson's return is imminent if the Lakers cannot return to the Western Conference Finals by next summer, it's especially promising that the team is not already undermining Buss in an attempt to prepare for that scenario.
Luke Walton appeared to be the Lakers top candidate all along, and according to Ding they only needed one job interview to confirm that notion. But those worried and/or excited that this is some sign that Jackson is riding in on a white horse to "save" the Lakers can relax.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.