Toronto Raptors Reportedly Interested in Phil Jackson

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 14:  Head coach Phil Jackson talks to Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during their game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena on February 14, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors are considering adding Phil Jackson to help turn around the organization.

UPDATE: Tuesday, April 30, at 12:30 p.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland

The Raptors have been linked to legendary coach Phil Jackson for some time now, and according to a report from Ramona Shelbourne and Marc Stein of ESPN, the Toronto club are ramping up their efforts to land the coach as the team's new club president. 

Per that report: 

Sources told that the Raptors -- now being run by former Los Angeles-based sports mogul Tim Leiweke -- regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.

But now that the Kings appear poised to stay in Sacramento instead of being sold to the consortium led by Jackson fan Chris Hansen, sources say that the Raptors will be pursuing Jackson aggressively this week, believing that they rank as Jackson's most attractive current option for a new career in management now that he can reunite with Leiweke.

While it remains to be seen how interested Jackson actually is in going to Toronto to run their club, they have to be considered contenders based on how much they've been pursuing him. 

---End Update---

Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN report that the former head coach is looking to return to the NBA and the Raptors are interested:

Sources told this week that the Raptors have interest in talking with Jackson about the Pat Riley-style role he craves in charge of a team's basketball operations. reported last week that Jackson, after nearly two seasons in retirement, is "itching" to return to the NBA next season, but preferably in a role similar to Riley's in Miami that allows him to oversee both the basketball department and the coaching staff.

Jackson was most recently the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and retired in 2011 after winning 11 NBA championships with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, signifying him as one of the greatest coaches of all time. 

Jackson could be a big help for an organization that has not reached the playoffs since the 2007-08 season. The Raptors have not advanced to the second round of the postseason since 2001.  

Toronto's 34-48 record this season was the best winning percentage the team had in three years, although this is obviously short of what the organization thinks it is capable of achieving.

The "Zen Master" should be expected to make a big impact after a long career of success at various levels in the NBA.

Of course, there will be a lot of competition for Jackson's services. Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated (h/t San Francisco Chronicle) reports that "three or four teams" are interested in bringing in the former coach for a front-office role.

It is currently unknown what he is looking for in each organization, but he will certainly be looking at which one provides the best fit.

The Raptors are still considering retaining team president Bryan Colangelo and coach Dwane Casey, according to Stein and Shelburne. However, adding Jackson would be a huge splash for the future of the organization.