With interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo no longer in the fold, the Brooklyn Nets have focused their efforts on luring Phil Jackson out of retirement. While the 11-time NBA Champion shouldn't take the Nets' coaching job, he should agree to a front-office role if it is offered.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, the Nets have contacted Jackson with the hope that he will agree to become their head coach. Jackson hasn't coached since leading the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2010-11 season, but he has reportedly been "itching" to return to the NBA in some capacity, according to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
Coaching is certainly an option for Jackson as there are plenty of teams that would love to have arguably the greatest head coach in NBA history, but he doesn't have to settle for a less-than-ideal option. Jackson is in a position where he can pick and choose what he wants to do, and taking a front-office position seems like a smarter move at this point.
Chris Broussard is reporting that Jackson is at the top of Brooklyn's want list in terms of head coaches, but Larry Brown and Brian Shaw are also options. If Jackson decides to go the front-office route instead, he would obviously have plenty of say in the hiring of the next coach.
Top 3 Nets coaching candidates: Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, Brian Shaw, source says.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) May 7, 2013
Shaw served as an assistant with the Lakers from 2004 through 2011, so Jackson is obviously very familiar with what he can do. If he feels confident that Shaw is ready to be a head coach, then perhaps Jackson will be content as a front-office type who can act as an adviser and a mentor of sorts to Shaw as he transitions into a head coaching role.
Jackson has already done everything possible in the NBA with 11 titles to his credit, so maybe he'll be content with paying it forward and helping out a long-time protege. Jackson is clearly a great basketball mind, and it would be interesting to see what he can do in a role similar to Pat Riley's with the Miami Heat.
Riley is the Heat's team president, but he is heavily involved in personnel decisions and essentially helps run the daily operations. He has done a fantastic job in Miami and has helped build a potential rivalry. Jackson won't have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh available to him in Brooklyn, but his name could help attract some big-name players moving forward.
What should Phil Jackson do?
The main reason why Jackson would be better off in the front office than on the sidelines is that failing as a team president wouldn't damage his legacy like failing as a coach would. The Nets have talent in the form of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, but there is nothing suggest that they will be championship contenders in the near future.
Teams like the Heat, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls aren't going away any time soon, so it's tough to envision Brooklyn being much more than a mid-pack playoff team. If Jackson is unable to elevate the Nets as a coach, then there will be unfair questions about his coaching ability. Jackson simply doesn't need that type of stress at the age of 67.
It's possible that Jackson will fall flat as an executive, but there are other people in place who can be blamed if that ultimately happens. All of the onus will fall on Jackson as the head coach, whereas just a portion of the burden must be shouldered by Jackson in the front office.
Jackson is one of the most respected people in the sport and has earned the right to decide which role he would rather fill. Although the Nets would probably rather have him as a head coach, they would almost certainly take him regardless of what he wants to do. Jackson is an asset and the Nets have to realize that.
Having Jackson in the front office can be an ace in the hole for Brooklyn just like Riley has been in Miami. If things don't work out with the new head coach, then the option of moving Jackson into that position exists. Jackson offers a lot of flexibility and is a perfect fit for the Nets' front office at this point.
The Nets have looked to make flashy hirings and signings since moving to Brooklyn, and adding Jackson as an executive would be their biggest coup yet.
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