Can Phil Jackson Bring Winning Touch to Post-Maloof Seattle Franchise?
There are some obviously conflicting emotions on the horizon for Seattle's populace.
For starters, there's an uncontrollable level of joy as the NBA's return to the city grows nearer by the day. While still facing league approval, all signs are pointing to this long overdue reunion taking shape.
Fans of the Sacramento Kings are drawing closer to the stark realization that their team appears to be on its last leg in terms of its current locale, color schemes and even nickname. It's a feeling that the people of Seattle know all too well, considering their own NBA franchise was ripped from their grasp prior to the 2008-09 NBA season.
So the enthusiasm bursting through the collective hearts and minds of Seattleites is hampered a bit by a sympathetic shoulder extending down the Pacific coastline.
If only there were some spiritual guru to help this city sift through the opposing viewpoints—a Zen Master to help them find inner peace in what ought to be a celebration of epic proportions.
Well. according to what longtime NBA scribe Peter Vecsey has been told, help could be on the way:
Source says almost living lock Phil Jackson will become front office face of Seattle-bound Kings' franchise. Won't coach. Will mentor choice— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) January 21, 2013
Perhaps of more significance than the potential arrival of Jackson is Vecsey's two-word clarification there, "won't coach."
Who's the most likely Kings player not to move with them to Seattle?
For starters, he succeeded with well-rounded rosters headlined by two of the greatest players in league history (first Michael Jordan in Chicago, then Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles).
The current Kings roster isn't completely starved of talent, but they're led by a malcontent (DeMarcus Cousins), a one-dimensional threat (Jimmer Fredette) and a player that may have peaked during his rookie season (Tyreke Evans). Although Sacramento's front office is likely frozen from making any moves this season given the potential ownership change, this roster could look drastically different when the 2013-14 season tips off.
Jackson's also shared some tumultuous relationships with front-office members before. His exits from Chicago and Los Angeles were both surrounded by hard feelings between the coach and executive staff.
Of course, that isn't to say that Jackson's destined for failure should he join the organization.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
His name carries more weight than perhaps any other living basketball coach, and could potentially lure in some big names to fill out the front office. Current San Antonio Spurs GM R.C. Buford and former Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird are both possible targets for the new owners (according to what league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports).
Current Kings coach Keith Smart is under contract through next season, but there may not be a less desirable coaching position than one in the midst of a regime change. Smart knows this all too well, having been ousted by new owners after a 10-game improvement during his lone season at the helm of the Golden State Warriors.
Perhaps Jackson would have the kind of influence to finally draw one of the widely sought-after college coaches who have yet to make their NBA jumps (notably, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski or Michigan State's Tom Izzo). He could also prove the perfect mentor for his former player (and assistant) Brian Shaw, current associate head coach of the Pacers.
If nothing else, he'll certainly reinstate relevance into a franchise that's fallen off the NBA radar over the past decade. Much like Jerry West with the Warriors or Pat Riley with the Miami Heat, his mere presence would add validity among fans and analysts alike.
There are more questions to come as this story unfolds, but it's hard to imagine that any solution involving Phil Jackson won't be at least part of the answer.
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