Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores hand-picked NBA legend and Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson several weeks ago to assist the team as a consultant in the ongoing search for a head coach, and now a power struggle may be brewing behind the scenes with general manager Joe Dumars. There is apparently a difference of opinion on who should be the Pistons' next head coach. Jackson wants to hire his former assistant and player Brian Shaw, but Dumars is eyeing Nate McMillan and Maurice Cheeks, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.
Jackson, a long-time friend of Gores, has not been hired to a formal position during this process, but he is known to be looking for executive-level opportunities in the NBA to help shape coaching and personnel decisions. Dumars may have been ready to make his choice prior to the NBA Draft Combine, but it may not be his decision to make at this time. He didn't get to hire his top choice in his first head coaching search, as Gores ignored his recommendation of Mike Woodson and brought in Lawrence Frank.
The Pistons have reached out to Shaw for an interview, but the Indiana Pacers are still busy in the 2013 NBA Playoffs and the team won't give permission for assistants to interview until their season is over. They are currently trying to knock of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Meanwhile, one of Dumars' choices, Mo Cheeks, sat down for a second interview with the Pistons earlier in the week.
Will Jackson get his way and convince Gores to hire Shaw? Tom Ziller of SB Nation posited that an expansion of his coaching tree was part of the idea behind Jackson's involvement from the very beginning:
The real endgame here is, of course, to spread Jackson's coaching tree. He doesn't currently have one acolyte in a head-coach role in the NBA. Kurt Rambis spent two miserable years in charge of the Timberwolves, and Brian Shaw is likely to have a job next season. That's it. Jim Cleamons had a head coach stint with Dallas years ago, and Bill Cartwright spent some time running the Bulls. But neither of those guys are in play for current openings (at least publicly) and neither produced their own acolytes.
So if this happens according to plan, Jackson gets a chance to give his coaching tree a much-needed boost. Win-win. Phil Jackson remains a step ahead of everyone else.
For now, it seems the Pistons will wait for their chance to interview Jackson's former assistant. Who knows what will happen from there, as Shaw is a hot name for many openings around the league.