Lakers Co-Owner Jeanie Buss Comments on Possibility of Phil Jackson Returning

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2016

Jeanie Buss, left, Los Angeles Lakers executive vice president of business operations, and former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson sit during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Tuesday, April 2, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers part-owner Jeanie Buss shot down the idea Phil Jackson would return to the franchise he led to five NBA titles.

Speaking to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Michelle Beadle on Monday, Buss affirmed Jackson's desire to keep his current post with the New York Knicks and downplayed the likelihood he'd work for the Lakers again (via Shelburne):   

No. To visit, yes..but in terms of basketball, he's committed to New York for many years. He's building something there. He has a mission, he's on that journey to get the team back to where he believes it can be and it will be. He's a former Knick...he loves New York, he loves the fans, he wants to make them proud. In terms of the Lakers, we have a front office. They're putting together a team...they have a vision. I'm excited to see what the future holds for us. So, to answer your question....no, there's no plans for Phil to come back here.

Given the nature of the relationship between Buss and Jackson—the two are engaged—and his past success with the team, the Zen Master will seemingly always be linked with the Lakers, no matter his situation elsewhere.

Buss has also been open about the fact her brother Jim is working against a ticking clock. Jim told USA Today's Sam Amick last October that he intends to stick to his timeline of giving up his job as Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations if Los Angeles isn't a contender by the end of next year.

In a February interview on USA Today's NBA A to Z podcast (via Amick), Jeanie laid out what those expectations entailed:

I think that [Jim] was very sure of himself when he promised that timeline, and I think that he has everything he needs to fulfill that promise of getting the team back competitive. And when I say competitive, it's competing for the Western Conference Finals, which would mean at least second round (of the playoffs)—if not more … They have earned the right to take the time that they've needed to put together what they want to have out on the court, and if they can't do that then we have to reexamine how things are going.

Should Jim resign, Jackson would be a natural candidate to replace him. The New York Post's Marc Berman reported Jackson can opt out of his contract with the Knicks following the 2016-17 season, so he could hypothetically join the Lakers at that point.

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While Jeanie was definitive in her stance about Jackson's status with the Knicks and future in L.A., she had little reason to leave room for doubt at the moment.

For one, it would undermine his position in the Big Apple. The Knicks don't want to hear their team president is looking to move. Basketball Insiders' Eric Pincus also noted the NBA would've been able to pursue tampering charges if Buss hinted she had any plans to hire Jackson down the road.


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