Landing spots for Phil Jackson
There is no shortage of NBA teams looking to add the 13-time champion
There is cachet, and then there's what one might call "to heck with you" cachet. Phil Jackson has the latter. Thirteen NBA championship rings will do that. If, as rumored, the Zen Master is looking to get back into the league, fans in every NBA city will be paying attention.
While Jackson has never been in charge of acquiring the personnel he's coached, his teams have always been a reflection of his on-and-off court philosophies, and it's not a stretch to believe that he'll have a knack for roster- and organization-building. As for the more technical matters of being a general manager, there are plenty of smart people whom Jackson can hire for things like salary cap management and quantitative analysis.
It's widely believed that Jackson, 67, is interested only in an executive role and not a return to the bench. Of course, he reportedly was seriously considering a return to coaching as recently as November. Jackson told the San Francisco Chronicle that "there are some interesting situations that are presenting themselves, but I really haven't made up my mind yet what I'm going to do. None of it involves coaching."
Let's face it, no one knows what Jackson wants to do, probably even himself. What we can safely assume is that if Jackson is intent on returning to the league, he's going to have plenty of opportunities to do so. He is one of the great basketball minds in league history, but it's more than that -- he's a man of clear vision with deeply rooted notions on everything from offensive structure to interpersonal relationships in the locker room.
Jackson also told the Chronicle that what intrigues him is the idea of implanting a top-to-bottom "culture" into an organization -- everything from the players to the coaching staff to the trainers. That doesn't necessarily mean he'd lean toward a currently struggling team, but you can't rule those teams out, either. Also, since Jackson has called Montana, North Dakota, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles home, you can't rule a team out based on geography or market size.
Here are the 11 teams -- ranked in order of likelihood -- that need to be mentioned as possible Jackson landing spots. The other 19 have management staffs in place whom I simply don't see being replaced, either because of their current level of success or because of poor timing.
This has been the hot rumor, but even if it weren't, the Raptors would make a lot of sense. They have a young, talented roster, though not one that is necessarily fitted with Jacksonian-type players. Toronto's cap situation isn't the best, and that remains true even if you use the amnesty tag on Andrea Bargnani.
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