Phil Jackson won’t coach Nets, or apparently anyone else
After having a dance with the Los Angeles Lakers only to lose out to Mike D’Antoni and then having the Nets put a full-court press on him, Phil Jackson said this week that he has no intention of returning to coach an NBA team.
He offered no elaboration, nor any details of how hard — if at all — the Nets had pushed to bring him in as the permanent replacement for Avery Johnson, who was fired last month. But he also did not use the word “retired,” and his use of the word “intention” will be seen by many as a hedge. Moreover, the quote was similar to what Jackson said when he left the Lakers in 2011.
Jackson, an 11-time NBA coaching champion, is the Nets’ top target to replace Johnson on a permanent basis. Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo is off to a 6-1 start in Johnson’s place and is expected to finish out the season. The Nets would then pursue Jackson in the offseason, with Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov looking to make yet another splash.
Asked after the Nets’ win Tuesday if Jackson’s remark was re-assuring, Carlesimo responded, “It’s not. That’s more fragile than the confidence of the players. I don’t believe Phil, anyhow. I’ve known Phil too long.”
Jackson comment was his first public statement of the season, and the hedge therein will undoubtedly lead others to contact him in the future. The scuttlebutt around the league was that Jackson was in demand and another team — other than Brooklyn, and other than the Lakers — had recently inquired about Jackson’s availability. Jackson’s statement also did not address a future role in some other capacity with an NBA team.
That is where Brooklyn could come back into the picture if Prokhorov was willing to offer him a top executive job for the franchise that relocated to New York City this season after 36 years in New Jersey.
Jackson recently got engaged to Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, but their engagement is not expected to hinder his chances of coming out of retirement, assuming he found a job he wanted.