If Phil Jackson does indeed return to the bench for the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, the 11-time NBA champion head coach may be consulting the assistance of Scottie Pippen, a key cog who helped Jackson capture over half of his titles.
A report by Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News has the latest on the developments in L.A., which are increasingly enticing by the day, particularly with Pippen potentially in the fold:
Jackson actually could be in place by Monday...with the Lakers trying to find a way to have Brian Shaw freed up from his coaching duties with the Indiana Pacers so that he can rejoin Jackson in L.A...Jackson is looking at adding Scottie Pippen, his former Chicago Bulls star, to his staff, sources said.
Although Lawrence only briefly mentions Pippen, his prospective addition shouldn't be taken lightly.
With four mega-stars on the Lakers' roster, Pippen is a Hall of Famer who had to learn to play second fiddle on the Chicago Bulls to the greatest ever, Michael Jordan.
Perhaps one of the few players who even holds a candle to Jordan's staggering legacy is L.A. shooting guard Kobe Bryant, who is at the latter stage of his career but still must be counted on as the leader. He is constantly gutting through injuries just to be on the floor, and this year has been no exception thus far.
Having so many impact players on the court at once is a nice problem to have, but a 1-4 start isn't a great sign for L.A.
The new additions of point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard haven't gelled yet, primarily due to the slight fracture in Nash's leg that has him out of the lineup.
Until Nash can get into the lineup and run an offense that is more suitable to his skill set—as opposed to recently fired Mike Brown's Princeton scheme—the Lakers are likely to continue their early-season slump.
Although as he has done for so long, Bryant keyed the Lakers to a 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors most recently, scoring 27 points. That's an encouraging sign that interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff can at least hold on until the situation with Jackson sorts itself out.
Pippen has had experience as a senior advisor to Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf for the past couple of years (h/t NBA.com). That increases his value as a personnel consultant for Jackson, who has indicated that he wants control in that aspect of the organization.
Reinsdorf himself gave a ringing endorsement of all that Pippen brings to the table:
He has a great rapport with players and understands what they think about as they move through their playing careers. His generous personality and sense of humor helps him connect with our partners, fans, and front office, and that's evident through his work with our Corporate Sales and Branding departments, as well as Chicago Bulls Charities.
The sooner that Jackson and Pippen can grab the reins of this Lakers squad, the quicker that they can work toward maximizing their immense potential and making the expected push toward a championship run.