The Los Angeles Lakers have had the worst three seasons in the history of their franchise over the last three consecutive years, which have made vice president of basketball operations' Jim Buss' proclamation that he would return the team to the Western conference finals by this summer look especially dicey. Even with the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and the most cap space in the NBA, the road back to contention doesn't look like an easy one.
This futility has led many to speculate on who would replace Buss were he to step down next summer as a result of a failure to meet his self-imposed deadline. So far the leading candidate in the rumor mills is a familiar one: former Lakers' coach and current New York Knicks president Phil Jackson.
Jackson has been rumored to want to leave his position with the Knicks when he has an out in his contract next summer in order to make a return to sunny California and his fiancee, Lakers president Jeanie Buss. In an appearance on ESPN Radio with Ramona Shelburne, Jeanie attempted to dispell those rumors when asked about the possibility of Jackson returning to Los Angeles:
"No," Buss said, "To visit, yes..but in terms of basketball, he's committed to New York for many years. He's building something there. He has a mission, he's on that journey to get the team back to where he believes it can be and it will be. He's a former Knick...he loves New York, he loves the fans, he wants to make them proud. In terms of the Lakers, we have a front office. They're putting together a team...they have a vision. I'm excited to see what the future holds for us. So, to answer your question....no, there's no plans for Phil to come back here."
In some ways, Buss has to say this. As Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders noted on Twitter, the Lakers president admitting there were plans to bring in the Knicks president next summer would constitute tampering. Regardless of Buss and Jackson's repeated protestations, these rumors will likely persist until they do or don't come true.
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