The Zen Master guided Los Angeles for 11 seasons, during which time the Lakers won five championships. Following Mike Brown's abrupt departure last season, he almost returned to the sidelines again. Then the Lakers rolled with Mike D'Antoni, and now, Jackson says it would take a helluva lot more for him to return.
"At the present time I don't see how that would work out with the way the organization is set up right now," Jackson said, per the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan. "There would have to be some seismic shift."
To be sure, a "seismic shift" entails a serious shakeup within the franchise, not the Lakers asking nicely. Bridges between Jackson and the team weren't necessarily torched to the ground last year, but remnants of a serious fire remain. A contingent of Laker suits could show up outside his ranch, moving speech in hand, and there would be no "you had me at hello" moment.
After all, they chose Magic Mike. Over him. The coach who won 11 NBA championships while on the sideline was essentially cast aside for someone without any rings and a reputation for directing poor defensive teams.
"I laughed," Jackson previously told ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning show of the Lakers' decision, according to ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi. "It was humorous to me when Mitch said that we think that Mike is a better coach for this group of guys."
Poised and serene as they come, Jackson isn't one for public outbursts or emancipated grudges. But egos are naturally bruised and relationships strained. There are still unresolved issues between Jackson and the Lakers brass.
Bresnahan notes that not only must the Lakers create a position for him to fill if they want him back, but Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak and Jackson would have to "bury the hatchet" as well.
Will Phil Jackson ever return to the Lakers?
Assuming the powers that be were willing to conjure a new role for Jackson to undertake—fiancé Jeanie Buss would presumably be on board—there's no guarantee the ties between him and those who affronted him can be mended.
Above all else, know that Jackson's days of coaching—not just the Lakers, but everyone—are over. Kupchak, Buss and Jackson could kiss and make up, and the Zen Master would still have no intention of reprising his role as a head coach.
"I don't feel that's my role anymore to be out there on the court," he said, via Bresnahan.
Working with the Lakers in an official capacity anytime soon isn't in the cards, either.