With all of the optimism surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers upcoming choices in the 2016 NBA Draft, their new head coaching hire, and their league-leading cap space entering July's free agency free-for-all, it's easy to forget that there could be major changes in their management team next summer if the team doesn't start winning again.
Not to worry. For any that were unaware or had let these possible shifts on the horizon slip their mind, Lakers president Jeanie Buss once again denied rumors that her fiancee, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, would make a return to run the Lakers this summer if her brother, Lakers vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, could not return the team to contention in a piece on Sports Business Daily.
"People think that Phil is going to come back here to L.A. and it's not true," said Buss. "He's signed a five-year agreement. He is happy where he is."
That is certainly another strong denial from Buss, but at this point it is getting a little strange that she is continuing to address the rumors now that they have been denied so many times. And even if Jackson were planning a return to Los Angeles, Buss couldn't admit it without risking charges of tampering.
As evidence that Jackson was committed to the Knicks, Buss said his job in New York was about more than a paycheck:
What I am getting from people in New York is that he's just doing it for the money. Phil doesn't do anything for the money. He's completely devoted to this job.
For him it really satisfies the full circle of his basketball career — starting as a Knicks player and now going back to New York.
In reality, we won't know how dedicated Jackson is to finishing his rebuild in New York until next summer, when he reportedly has an out in his contract that would allow him to return to Los Angeles. If Jim Buss doesn't build the Lakers into an unexpected playoff contender by then, there could be a job opening for the Zen Master.
The rest of the letter offers more insight into Buss' time and thoughts on the Lakers, and is worth a read for any curious fans.
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