That shadow would belong to the immortal Phil Jackson.
You may be asking yourself: Why would Phil Jackson be on the minds of anyone within the Nets organization during such a pivotal time of the season?
There are several factors at play which may ultimately result in Jackson leading the Nets in the not to distant future.
First, let’s consider the situation of interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
No one can argue that Carlesimo rescued the Nets and their first season in Brooklyn when it looked like the ship was sinking back in December. Avery Johnson had just been relieved of his duties, and the Nets were mired in an ugly and uninspired funk.
Carlesimo entered the picture, and the Nets turned up the energy en route to a strong finish and a No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Sounds good, right? So then why is it that he still has the “interim” tag in his title?
Carlesimo is a basketball lifer and has made several coaching stops during his career. Unfortunately, he owns a .431 lifetime winning percentage. Perhaps there is a fear that his success is unsustainable?
Additionally, he has a very brash coaching style and is known for being very vocal and “loud” with his players, so maybe there is a concern that Deron Williams and company will tune him out when times get tough.
In reality, the factor that might be working most against P.J. Carlesimo is that he is P.J. Carlesimo. He is not a “sexy” coaching name, and while his white collar approach may work in smaller cities such as Portland, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants someone with star power.
There aren’t many coaches in all of professional sports with as much star power as Phil Jackson.
Jackson was the architect of the triangle offense that led to multiple dynasties with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.
After walking off in the sunset after the 2010-11 season, Jackson claimed he was done with the Lakers for good. His name quickly resurfaced when coach Mike Brown was fired earlier this season, and it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would return to the Staples Center.
Only a funny thing happened: The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni instead, leaving Jackson at the altar.
Clearly the itch to get back into coaching had returned, and Jackson had been speculated to long to return to coach in New York as his last great challenge.
With Mike Woodson firmly established at the helm of the New York Knicks, the Nets remain the only other option in the area.
This would be the perfect coach for Prokhorov, as he would finally have someone who can help him steal headlines from the Knicks, while at the same time provide the Nets with an extra boost to break through into the NBA’s elite.
It may seem unfair given all of the work Carlesimo has put in, but the NBA is a results-driven business. If the Nets flame out in the first round, the whispers about Phil Jackson will get louder and louder.