Phil Jackson will more than likely be the newest coach of the Los Angeles Lakers for the third time on Monday, and it looks like he might be bringing a very familiar cast of characters back to join him.
Jackson has reportedly already contacted mainstays Jim Cleamons, Fran Hamblen and Brian Shaw, and according to ProBasketBall talk, Jackson has reached out to former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen as well.
Pippen's knowledge and feel for the game makes him a natural choice as an assistant coach, but it's his ability to connect with an entire locker room that could make his services invaluable to the Lakers, especially Devin Ebanks.
Michael Jordan garnered the reputation as an indifferent, caustic and sometimes rude teammate while in Chicago, but Pippen was often viewed as the team's emotional leader, and a player who was quick to offer encouragement when a teammate needed it.
And Ebanks certainly needs that type of encouragement and inspiration right now.
In his third season Ebanks is averaging 2.5 points per game, two rebounds and shooting 23 percent from the field in just over 10 minutes per game. Those numbers are frustrating for Lakers fans when you consider Ebanks 6'9" frame and the flashes of potential he has displayed in spurts.
At moments Ebanks has shown the ability to shoot from distance, get to the rim off the dribble and defend the ball in the post and on the perimeter, but he's never been able to do any of those things on a consistent basis.
Jackson has never been known as the nurturing type when it comes to young players but he was the Lakers coach during Ebanks' rookie season, and it wouldn't be a stretch to think that Jackson noticed Ebanks' potential in that brief time.
In fact, Ebanks is very similar to Pippen when it comes to size and skill set, and while it would be ridiculous to compare Ebanks to a Hall of Famer it's not like Pippen was an All-Star when he entered the league.
Like Ebanks, Pippen had plenty of potential as a rookie, but he also needed someone to nurture his abilty and help him grow, and luckily Jordan realized that Pippen had the talent to be his side-kick for years to come.
Ebanks may not have the same ceiling as Pippen but under Mike Brown, would we have ever found out? Furthermore, what would Ebanks future look like under Jackson without Pippen on the sideline?
The Lakers move to hire Jackson is partly out of desperation and the focus is on winning now, and Ebanks may be able to help the Lakers achieve that goal, but it's not like Jackson is going to give him minutes if he's not ready.
And if Ebanks can prove he is ready to play the minutes are certainly there because the Lakers starting small forward is not exactly lighting it up on either end of the floor.
Metta World Peace is averaging a respectable 10.7 points per game and 5.7 rebounds, but he's only shooting 35 percent from the floor and his stout defensive reputation has taken hit after hit so far this during the 2012-13 regular season.
Ebanks is quicker than World Peace, more athletic and arguably plays with more energy, but until he can prove that he can play with some consistency, he will never earn the level of trust needed to become a part of Jackson's regular rotation.
Unless of course Ebanks has an advocate in his corner like Pippen, who understands exactly what it's like to succeed under adverse circumstances, and thrive when given a solid chance to prove yourself on the court.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!