Phil Jackson, the head coach who has won more NBA titles than anyone in history, reportedly wants to come back in the league and run a team à la Pat Riley, and you'll never guess which franchise is at the front of the line of suitors: the Toronto Raptors. Yes, the NBA's lone Canadian franchise is apparently weighing making a run at the Zen Master as it contemplates the future of general manager Bryan Colangelo and head coach Dwane Casey, ESPN's Marc Stein reports.
The Raptors, Stein writes, are not to be taken lightly after former AEG boss Tim Leiweke was hired as the CEO of Maple Leaf Entertainment, the group that owns the Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs and MLS' Toronto FC. From Stein:
Leiweke is a major player in the sports industry and Jackson is very familiar with his work in Los Angeles, where Leiweke helped get the Staples Center built for the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers as well as the NHL's . Leiweke also has a longstanding working relationship with Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, Jackson's fiancee.
While Leiweke's hire doesn't guarantee changes with the Raptors, it does appear to throw the immediate futures of Colangelo and Casey into some doubt. Before Leiweke's hiring Friday, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com the Raptors were strongly considering retaining both.
Colangelo signed Andrea Bargnani to a huge contract extension and orchestrated the Rudy Gay trade after signing DeMar Derozan to a four-year, $38 million contract in the offseason, so even though Jackson has never had personnel control over a team, it's hard to imagine he would be anything other than an upgrade.
Whether Jackson makes the move is the big question. Reports and speculation in the NBA are worth almost nothing — especially with regards to Phil Jackson's next move — but this one is especially fun, if only because it's the Raptors and Phil Jackson.