Despite being linked to nearly every vacant coaching gig in the NBA, Lakers coach Phil Jackson told Fanhouse in an exclusive interview that he plans to stay with the team he has coached for the past 10 years. Jackson previously declined the possibility of returning to the Chicago Bulls, where he coached from 1989 to 1998 and won his first six NBA titles. The New Jersey Nets and now the Cleveland Cavaliers have been suggested as landing spots for Jackson, but he insists that if he doesn’t retire, he’ll let Kobe keep making his job so easy.
The 10-time NBA champion coach has not completely denied the possibility of coaching in New Jersey or Cleveland, but he really hasn’t said that he’s interested, either. Jackson finds the Cleveland situation unique because the Cavaliers are essentially letting Lebron James determine who they hire, even though LeBron could sign with another team in a few weeks. But Jackson seems perfectly content with the possibility of a new contract with the Lakers, despite the rumored pay cut he’d have to take off of his current $12 million salary. Poor guy, he may have to pawn some jewelry.
Remain loyal to us, Fanhouse:
Asked if he anticipates returning to the Lakers, Jackson said, “Yeah.” But when asked if this was any revelation Jackson was providing, he reverted back to what he has said previously, saying, “No. Like I’ve said, 90 percent chance that, if I’m coaching, I’ll be back here.”
Jackson already has shot down a report linking him to the opening in Chicago, which Jackson led to six titles in the 1990s. But he now has not completely closed the door on jobs in Cleveland and New Jersey.
Jackson also weighed in on recent comments by Dwayne Wade, after the free agent Miami Heat superstar questioned the loyalty of the Chicago Bulls ownership to its former players. Wade said that Miami is incredibly loyal to former players, but he wonders why Michael Jordan is in Charlotte and Scottie Pippen hasn’t returned to the team in any management role. Jackson pointed out that there are plenty of players from his Bulls teams that are working in Chicago now, including John Paxson and Bill Wennington.
Somewhere Cliff Levingston and Dennis Hopson are wondering if anyone remembers them. And the answer is no.