Is Phil Jackson Angling for a Future Front Office Job with LA Lakers?
Phil Jackson has not been shy about commenting on his former team. Jackson's most recent public foray into Lakers commentary was a lengthy interview with the venerable Jack McCallum for Sports Illustrated.
Jackson gently criticized D'Antoni's strategy and its lack of Dwight Howard involvement:
They just don't put the ball in the post. They'll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there's no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe will go in there. But Dwight [Howard] just doesn't get any touches. They've basically eliminated his assets.
You want the ball 10 feet away from the basket. Throw it into the post, make them double-team and have everybody around to make shots. That's what Shaq could do. That's where you have the Robert Horrys, the Derek Fishers and the Rick Foxes sitting out there getting wide-open jumpers.
Jackson also commented on Howard's physical state:
I think he can be. But he is not where he needs to be physically because of the back surgery. He needs a year to recover from something like that. He's starting to come around, but he has a massive upper body to carry around. He's a terrific athlete, but he still has to get all that back. He's looking better all the time, but his problem right now is turnovers. He's got to have a little better recognition, and that will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now.
It's possible that Phil Jackson just likes twisting the knife from afar, but there could be an ulterior motive to this public commentary. When asked by McCallum about coming back, Phil said the following:
So I'm ready to think about coming back, but I still have to think about it. But I do hold out the idea that there's still influence in the game I could have. Red Auerbach, Pete Newell, Wayne Embry, guys like that have had ... a number of people have had considerable influence and haven't been coaches per se.
When asked if Jackson wanted a GM job specifically, he demurred, citing an operations or player personnel job as options. What's clear is that Jackson hasn't cast aside his want to be influential in hoops, in some capacity.
This brings us back to the Lakers, a team that Phil's been critiquing from afar for quite some time. It could be because Jackson's just being honest in regards to questions asked.
It could also be that Jackson's trying to demonstrate his value as a consultant. There are various ways to go about getting jobs, and playing nice isn't always the best avenue. It's impossible to know Phil's internal motivations, but if I had to guess, he sees outside analysis as a good way to jump-start his second career.
It's an unstable, chaotic Lakers era, what with the tragedy of Jerry Buss' death and the constant player movement that preceded it. It may be a good idea to bring back a familiar face, just not in a coaching capacity.
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