One coach out means another coach in. It must be the proverbial coaching carousel. It is tough to imagine the coaching fraternity—a group of crusty (Greg Popovitch) awkward (Kevin McHale) too tall or short (Avery Johnson) middle aged and above males—literally riding around and up and down the colorful carousel, but when the Lakers push the panic button, it doubles as the “Start” Carousel button.
Phil Jackson and Mike D’Antoni have preferred seating on the coaching carousel, but Phil is riding shotgun. Jeanie Buss will escort the obvious number one choice to the highest seat on the carousel. And D’Antoni and the others will each fall in line and wait for the Zen Master’s teaching, in the form of a decision.
As Mitch Kupchak said in his press conference Friday, it would be negligent not to contact the 11 time NBA Champion, and the most successful coach in American professional sports history. Phil would likely be a frontrunner for an NFL vacancy, besides every NBA jobs. It doesn’t matter the price tag or for how many years, if Phil wants the job he obviously has it. Anything said otherwise by Lakers management is just public relations.
The question asked by both fans, media, and NBA personnel is why wouldn’t Phil want this job with this All-Star cast of players? The more pertinent question seems to be, why would he?
Phil Jackson has nothing to prove. He is the best coach at getting the most out of talented players, and he has done that 11 times. His reputation would hardly be enhanced by a 12th championship. Kobe going after championship number 6, Dwight, Steve Nash, and Antawn Jamison stand much more to gain than Phil does if he returns to the bench. While neither Lakers management or players gave Mike Brown a chance this season, Brown successfully proved that getting this group to gel will not be easy, even if the group is so talented on paper.
Jackson has put in his work over his career, and he doesn’t need to be the Lakers head coach, the Lakers need him.