It looks like the Brooklyn Nets aren't wasting any time prioritizing whom they want to replace fired head coach Avery Johnson. According to ESPN's Marc Stein and Chris Broussard, the Nets have reportedly made Phil Jackson their top target to fill the vacancy:
Sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that the Nets have Jackson atop their list of potential replacements for Johnson and will make a hard push for the 67-year-old, who appeared close to returning for a third stint with the Los Angeles Lakers in November before L.A. unexpectedly gave the job to Mike D'Antoni.
As Stein and Broussard note, Jackson was in line to fill the Lakers' coaching vacancy earlier this season. Though many considered Jackson to be the favorite to land the gig, he was passed over for Mike D'Antoni in a move that drew ire across the country.
In the interim, it seems like Nets general manager Billy King has no interest in drawing similar disdain in Brooklyn.
That doesn't necessarily mean the team's interest is reciprocated by Jackson. NBA.com's David Aldridge reported on Thursday that Todd Musburger, the coach's representative, said that Jackson had "no interest" in the Nets' vacancy:
Phil Jackson's longtime representative, Todd Musburger, tells me via text that Jackson "has no interest in the Nets' job at this time."— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) December 27, 2012
Nevertheless, it appears the team is undaunted and will make its best pitch to the 67-year-old coaching legend—and it's easy to see why.
Nicknamed the "Zen Master" due to his player-handling abilities, Jackson won 11 NBA championships over 20 seasons with the Bulls and Lakers, which surpassed Red Auerbach's longstanding record.
Long rumored to desire a return to the bench, Brooklyn fits the high-profile nature of a job someone like Jackson would want. However, it will be up to Nets management to convince the aging coach that this roster has what it takes to compete for championships in June.
Considering the team went just 14-14 under Johnson's tutelage, hiring Jackson may prove to be more daunting than anyone in Brooklyn realizes.