It seems unlikely that Phil Jackson will ride into Los Angeles and save the mess that has become the Lakers, but there is still a possibility Jackson can have a hand in reviving the franchise—just not from the sidelines.
Jackson was many Lakers fans' top choice to replace Mike Brown during the early part of the 2012-13 regular season, and he's still a favorite to succeed Mike D'Antoni, at least in the minds of those same Lakers fans.
The truth is, Jackson's days of roaming the sidelines in Los Angeles are over, but due to his connection with Jeanie Buss, there is still some hope that Jackson can be involved in some capacity with improving the fortunes of the franchise.
Jackson has already dispensed a few nuggets of wisdom on how to fix what ails the Lakers, and his solution would go a long way towards keeping Dwight Howard in Los Angeles.
"I would find one of my assistant coaches to work with me to help them just as quickly as possible because I know what they need," Jackson said in an interview with "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio on Wednesday.
"I think they need to get back inside, where the strength of their team is and use that presence in there to dominate games. I think there is a way to do that."
Jackson's words via ESPN.com are not that revealing, considering he used the exact same formula to lead the Lakers to their most previous NBA championships in 2009-10. But despite the simplicity of the message, it still seems beyond the grasp of D'Antoni.
D'Antoni seems stuck on turning the Lakers into the Phoenix Suns even though the roster doesn't fit his scheme, and he never managed to lead any of his Suns teams past the conference finals anyway.
At some point next season, the Lakers will come to the same realization the New York Knicks did and acknowledge that hiring D'Antoni was a mistake. But where will they go from there?
If Jackson was in the Lakers' front office, the path would be clear.
In his quote above, Jackson says the first thing he would do is grab one of his assistant coaches to work with the Lakers as quickly as possible, and there is a good chance the first assistant he would grab is Brian Shaw.
You know, the same Brian Shaw who most Lakers fans felt should have gotten the head coaching job the second time Jackson retired.
Shaw is currently the associate head coach for the Indiana Pacers, who just forced the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and he just happens to be one of the hottest prospects on the market.
According to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein at ESPN Los Angeles, the Clippers are set to interview Shaw as early as Monday, and one of the primary reasons he is such a hot commodity is because of his ability to develop players, as evidenced by the Pacers' Lance Stephenson and Paul George.
Imagine what a player-friendly coach like Shaw could do for Howard?
The ultimate twist of irony would be watching Shaw transform a Clippers team that is already loaded into a championship-caliber team while Lakers fans look hopelessly on from the sidelines.
Will Phil Jackson Return to the Lakers?
This reality would never happen with Jackson in the Lakers' front office, but right now, it appears to be a likely scenario.
There is a small contingent of Lakers fans who wish Jackson would just fade into the background and let the franchise confront the future on its own terms. Unfortunately, as long as Jackson is connected to Buss, that will never happen, and it's not such a bad thing.
Jackson's ideas on righting the Lakers' ship are simple and dead-on, and maybe if Jim Buss can get past the foolish pride that leads him, the Lakers will start paying Jackson for his invaluable insight.