According to Howard Beck of the New York Times, the franchise has its sights set on hiring the Zen Master and plans to make him its No. 1 target when the hiring process begins in earnest.
No deal is imminent, no formal discussions have taken place, and it is not even clear that Jackson wants the job. But the search will start with Jackson and only Jackson, according to multiple people monitoring the process.
While Jackson would be an ideal coach for this underperforming squad—he does have 11 championship rings and is widely regarded as one of the best basketball minds of all time—he’s highly unlikely to want such an undesirable position.
The Nets have a decent star in Deron Williams, but he’s not near the level of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, the two players that Jackson won all of his titles with.
Aside from D-Will, Brooklyn has Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and a plethora of role players locked into long-term deals, and there is barely any wiggle room to make roster adjustments.
Any casual NBA observer will realize that while the Nets roster has some big names and a lot of firepower, they do not have the stars or roster makeup to win a championship—especially with a team like the Miami Heat capable of dominating the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.
Jackson has to be keenly aware of this, and it would take a Godfather offer to pry the 67-year-old Hall of Famer out of retirement. While Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has the deep pockets and desire to win, the cost of Jackson will likely be prohibitive.
Remember, Jackson was highly interested in returning to Los Angeles to coach the Lakers after Mike Brown was fired early in the 2012-13 season, but he made demands so ludicrous that the franchise by which he is revered had no choice but to rebuff them and go with Mike D’Antoni.
Considering that the Zen Master’s interest level in the Nets gig will likely be much lower, we expect it’ll take countless millions and other accommodations to bring him to the Brooklyn sideline.
Because so many other possible options are available at what would likely be a cheaper cost—Stan Van Gundy, his brother Jeff, Jerry Sloan and current interim HC P.J. Carlesimo just to name a few—the Nets brass needs to expand their search and stop focusing in on Jackson.
We’re not saying that Phil isn’t going to end his retirement to coach the Nets, but the odds are long and the price will be exorbitant. Expect Brooklyn to go a different direction when it comes time to make a permanent hire.