According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, that's exactly what's transpiring—and it could be a sign of a future reunion.
McMenamin reports that Jackson has been in contact with Lakers center Dwight Howard. The two have reportedly exchanged texts, as Jackson helps D-12 through his back injuries.
Nothing short of an intriguing development.
Dave McMenamin @mcten
This Lakers season gets more and more interesting: Dwight Howard says Phil Jackson has been texting him words of support about his back3/6/2013, 1:42:58 AM
The Zen Master and the centers have a longstanding history of getting along well, do they not?
To be clear, this article is not suggesting that Jackson will be coaching the Lakers any time soon. Instead, it is to acknowledge the fact that there are multiple positions for Jackson to fill.
Something he has publicly acknowledged.
A Potential Front Office Position
In a candid interview with Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated, Phil Jackson had surprising words in reference to his future. He touched upon the prospect of coaching again and where he may end up in the future.
To paraphrase, Jackson is done with coaching, but he'd like to be the "Vice president of operations or director of player personnel."
Jackson: I'm not coaching. I told Mitch [Kupchak, Lakers GM] that back in October. So when we sat down in November [to talk about taking over after Mike Brown was fired], he brought that up and I said, "Well, this isn't about moving or going somewhere else and learning new players. It's different. 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.
SI: So ... a GM job?
Jackson: I don't like that term. Vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel is more like it.
For those unaware, the current general manger is Mitch Kupchak.
Kupchak has been the mastermind behind countless Lakers trades and signings. He's also the man who brought this current power team together, as well as the individual who takes the blame for choosing Mike D'Antoni over Jackson.
To put it bluntly, it would be hard to imagine the Lakers without Kupchak. In that same breath, it's hard to imagine Jackson not being a part of the Lakers.
His fiancé, Jeanie Buss is the Governor of the Lakers. In other words, Jackson is in position to join the franchise in some capacity.
A director of player personnel job sounds synonymous to what he's doing with D-12.
The D-12 Factor
If Mike D'Antoni continues to misuse Dwight Howard, the calls for his job will not be limited to the fan base. Instead, they will branch up to the front office and could potentially force D'Antoni to adapt or lose his job.
Keep in mind, general manager Mitch Kupchak referred to Howard as "the future of the franchise."
Fortunately for the Lakers, there is a man who believes that Howard can be the dominant force the Lakers envisioned. A man who has a long history of taking dominant centers and maximizing their abilities.
That man is Phil Jackson.
SI: But Dwight is not Shaq in that aspect of the game, drawing the double team and finding people. Isn't that true?
Jackson: 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.
The intrigue continues to rise.
The Lakers are not a franchise that takes winning lightly. In fact, anything short of a championship is considered a failure, with or without the late Dr. Jerry Buss in charge.
If Howard is the future, who's to say that the past won't be brought in to create a better present?
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