Phil Jackson has 'a few' opportunities to return to NBA


The Zen Master wouldn't give any specifics, but it sounds like he wants back in the game. Just not as a coach.

Phil Jackson was in Boston over the weekend for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and the legendary coach revealed in an interview with USA Today's Sam Amick that he has a few opportunities to get back into the NBA if he's interested.

While Jackson admitted to have conversations with several teams, he didn't want to give any specifics:

"There are a few (opportunities), but I shouldn't name them. It wouldn't be right to talk about it, name anything. But yeah, there are some. There are winners and losers in the NBA, and a lot of people are trying to reclaim their position or change their culture or whatever. So yeah, there is. I've had conversations. Some of them are feelers. "Are you interested?" type of thing. I did go out to Detroit last year and sit with (Pistons President) Joe (Dumars). I guess we weren't successful, but I really encouraged (Pistons owner) Tom Gores that the general manager has to be able to pick his coach so they can win it together. And Joe wanted Maurice, so it didn't work out, unfortunately for Maurice. I developed a relationship with the owner, who lives in LA. We have conversations."

Jackson continues to act as "an unpaid adviser" to Gores, but it's looking more and more like the Zen Master wants to get back into basketball in a more official capacity as long as his health holds up. Jackson had interest in a front-office position if the Sacramento Kings had successfully moved to Seattle, and while that didn't pan out, he's clearly still a wanted man.

Naturally, when there's talk of Jackson getting back into the game, the Los Angeles Lakers come up as a possible destination. However, Jackson doesn't envision becoming a Lakers employee again, despite the fact that his bride-to-be is a major player in the front office:

"I don't think so. I have a good relationship with the vice president in business affairs (Jeanie Buss) - at least it has been pretty good (laughs). She's dedicated to their family running the business and trying to feel what that's like. Their father's memorial service is not a year old, but he has been gone for a year now and they're still just kind of figuring out, 'How are we going to do this?' So I think they want to have an opportunity to do it. And Mitch, obviously, has a relationship with (Lakers executive vice president of player personnel and Jeanie's brother) Jimmy that has been going on since, I think, 2004 or so, when he started becoming really involved. So for the last 10 years, he and Mitch have been pretty much working together. (Late Lakers owner) Dr. (Jerry) Buss came in on things. We had a few issues. Kobe (Bryant) had an issue one year. We had an issue getting Pau (Gasol). Some of the major moves, Dr. Buss was still there. But the other stuff Jimmy and Mitch have been working on. They've got a relationship, so I don't see that happening."

Another intriguing option for Jackson is the Houston Rockets. Jackson expressed interest in coaching up Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, so perhaps he would like another chance at it. But the 68-year-old was non-committal:

"No, I. I'm sorry. I mean. Um, no. I don't (pauses). I like that. That's funny. I've got a (phone) call at 10 (a.m.) - how am I doing at time?"

And just like that, the interview was over. Jackson did speak with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey at Sloan, which could lead to people trying to connect some dots.

One thing is certain: If Jackson returns to the NBA, it's "damned sure" he won't be on the sideline. So let the speculation begin!

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