According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Hall of Fame coach is seeking a two-year deal that includes travel restrictions, an eight-figure salary and control over basketball decisions.
If that’s all it takes to land a proven winner—one who has helped the franchise to five titles—then GM Mitch Kupchak and VP Jim Buss would be insane not to fax over the papers to Jackson’s agent.
Let’s take a look at each sticking point in Jackson’s contract and break down why the Lakers need to accommodate the 11-time champion.
At 67 years old, Jackson isn’t exactly someone you’d refer to as spry.
The 6’8” former forward/center played in the NBA from 1967 to 1980 and has been coaching at the NBA level on and off since taking over Michael Jordan’s Bulls back in 1989. The rigors of an 82-game schedule certainly take their toll, but there are ways to reduce the fatigue and wear and tear from all that travel.
Jackson is widely expected to bring in a solid group of assistant coaches, including Kurt Rambis, Frank Hamblen and Jim Cleamons—men who can handle running shootarounds and practices on the road.
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News is also reporting that the Zen Master is looking to upgrade his staff by finding a way to relieve Brian Shaw of his duties in Indiana and bringing in legendary player Scottie Pippen.
While it would still be ideal for Jackson to show up for the games—he should be able to fly in the day of a contest—having one of these men coach the team wouldn’t be so detrimental on a short-term basis.
Buss and Kupchak would be insane to not grant Jackson any and all travel waivers he needs in exchange for the chance to win a title with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard on the roster.
According to Broussard, Jackson is reportedly asking for a salary “in line with what he previous earned.”
There are reports out that the Zen Master netted $12.5 million for the 2009-10 season and could possibly make even more if the Lakers hire him for the 2012-13 campaign.
Considering the Lakers are the most valuable franchise in the National Basketball Association and signed a $200 million annual deal with Time Warner Cable, money shouldn’t be an issue.
It would be an absolute travesty if this deal were to get stuck on financial figures, especially with the Lakers brass having more money than they know what to do with.
Perhaps the toughest thing for Kupchak to swallow is Jackson’s demand for more control over basketball decisions.
While the two haven’t had many high-profile clashes in the past, it seems that the coach is hoping to avoid any in the future and wants freedom to construct a championship team during the short time period he will be back in L.A.
Will the Zen Master return to the Lakers?
While it’s unlikely the core of the team will change, there is a chance that the bench—one of the most atrocious second units in the league—is overhauled in order to improve the team.
Because the Lakers are currently sitting at 2-4, Kupchak has little room to talk and should have no problem handing over control to a proven winner.
Jackson has won with the Lakers before and can win again if he has the right pieces in place.
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