Phil Jackson has the best winning percentage of any coach in NBA history at .705 (1041 wins to 435 loses). He has the most championships by a coach with 10. He has never had a losing season as a head coach. His career has simply been ridiculous. The Lakers wouldn't be where they are without him.
The off-season priorities to re-sign Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are going to be expensive with the Lakers expected to be about four million over the luxury tax threshold paying for their 8 players who have contracts. Realistically though, does anyone think the Lakers won't be back in the conference finals even without them as long as Phil Jackson is the head coach?
I'm an optimist, I think he'll be back for at least one more season but then what?
It's a scary prospect, even with all that talent.
The bulls posted a .260 winning percentage the year after he left during the strike shortened season. It's true this was also because of the additional loss of key players, but the same thing happened when he left the Lakers during the 2004-05 season. The Shaq-less Lakers posted the worst record in the Pacific Division and failed to make the playoffs.
The Lakers will be paying twice whatever the contracts say for Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza if they stay, but it's still extremely likely at least one of the two will be back (most likely both).
After a championship teams are historically more likely to shell out the extra cash to keep the team together. On top of that players tend to stay where they can win championships.
Notice I haven't mentioned Kobe yet.
That's because he will absolutely not opt-out and therefore it's not even worth the two sentences I just wrote on it.
I was going to write pages on the draft, but does it even really matter for the Lakers this year? They have pick No. 29, and they already clearly have all the pieces. Predictions on who they're going to pick are pretty random.
I think if the Lakers believe that it will be difficult to sign both Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza they'll go for a versatile forward to fill the gap. Demarre Carroll from Missouri may be a good pick here for this reason.
Who knows though?
The Lakers may be in the midst of another three-peat regardless, even if Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza go, even if they lose one of their two all-star big men due to injury, even if the rest of the roster is filled with players making the league minimum who never play a single minute.
The team will be in contention as long as Phil Jackson sits in the big chair.