Numerous reports recently have indicated that former coach, 11-time NBA champion as coach, and Hall of Famer Phil Jackson has an interest in returning to the NBA in an executive position, most recently the Cleveland Cavaliers. Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle sat down with Jackson himself, who gave a perfectly Phil Jacksonian answer to that question: direct, straightforward, and still vague.
"I've had some talks with people," Jackson said, "and there are some interesting situations that are presenting themselves, but I really haven't made up my mind yet what I'm going to do. None of it involves coaching. ... There are three or four teams that have been interested."
In a press conference held after firing Avery Johnson, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said that in his coaching search he would contact "all the usual suspects" when asked about Phil Jackson. If three or four teams have expressed an interest in Jackson's services, there is little doubt that Brooklyn was one of them.
Ostler, who did list the Nets as a potential suitor, added that Jackson's "New York connection is strong," which is true -- Jackson played 11 years with the New York Knicks before finishing his playing career with the New Jersey Nets for two seasons.
Jackson commands respect throughout the NBA and is arguably the greatest coach in NBA history. His presence in any front office would be a welcome one. In Brooklyn, there is one snag: other than his influence on players -- which would have some impact, I'm sure -- there's not much he can do to alter the roster. The Nets are locked in, cap-wise, for this and the next three seasons, and no matter how much sway Jackson has, he can't change the collective bargaining agreement.
One place he could have some significant impact: selecting a coach. As Jackson said to Ostler:
Jackson said he would be interested in a developing team "where you'd have the influence in (selecting the) coaching staff and the kind of culture that goes along with it. It goes all the way down to - not down to, but includes - trainers and the people who are doing the hands-on work with players, that have to be really embedded with how you put a team together. ... The support group is important; guys who get an opportunity to hear and talk and influence the players.
The Nets aren't developing in the traditional sense, but everything Jackson listed as a way to help develop is something the Nets are looking for, most importantly figuring out their coaching staff for next year & beyond.