NBA Saturday: Phil Jackson to the Rescue?
Will Phil Jackson return to coach a team during the 2012-13 NBA season? That’s one of the burning questions as we enter the offseason and the rumors aren’t going away anytime soon. The legendary head coach has been linked to several teams, most notably the New York Knicks, and he may come out of retirement if the right situation presents itself.
Jeanie Buss, who has been dating Jackson since 2001, added credence to the rumors during an interview with “Mason and Ireland” on ESPN 710. She agreed with the hosts when they speculated that Jackson would return to the sideline in the near future.
Buss also erased any concerns about Jackson’s health. In recent years, Jackson had a number of health issues that factored into his decision to retire. In March, he underwent knee replacement surgery, which led many league sources to believe that his coaching career was over. They thought he would struggle with the daily grind, from traveling to running a practice. However, Buss confirmed that Jackson is doing well and that the knee replacement has allowed him to become more active than he’s been in years.
“He’s got his energy back,” Buss said. “As a matter of fact, I overheard him making plans to play tennis when he’s back in Montana with one of his friends. He hasn’t played tennis, I don’t think, in 8 years. The knee replacement really is one of those operations that has such a high success rate. It gets people back to riding their bikes or playing golf or playing tennis. It really is a miracle. It’s one of those things that because of Phil’s schedule he wasn’t able to take the time to get the surgery and do the rehab. Now he’s done it, and I do think he has his energy back. Now he’s going to spend his time? I don’t know. I’m happy for him, that he’s out of pain, after watching him suffer for the last few years.”
League sources say that the Knicks haven’t contacted Jackson as of yet, but they’re expected to reach out to him in the coming weeks. While the team was impressed with Mike Woodson and the success he had in an interim role, they’ll still explore the possibility of hiring Jackson. Even though Woodson was 18-6 after taking over for Mike D’Antoni in March, he doesn’t have 11 championships on his résumé.
While Jackson has been most often linked to the Knicks, there are plenty of other teams that could pursue him as well. The Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks are three teams that haven’t yet signed their head coaches – Scott Brooks, Tom Thibodeau and Rick Carlisle – to new contracts. If talks stall, would Jackson like to coach one of those teams?
If Stan Van Gundy is fired, the Orlando Magic is also an intriguing potential landing spot for Jackson. The Magic are desperate to keep Dwight Howard and hiring Jackson would show that they’re serious about contending. Jackson brings instant credibility to the Magic and Howard would have a much harder time explaining his decision to leave if the organization was able to deliver Jackson after his repeated cries for help. Jackson has expressed interest in coaching Howard and the center would love to play for the legendary coach, according to sources close to the situation.
If the Los Angeles Lakers lose to the Denver Nuggets, would Jackson be tempted to reclaim his old job? Many Laker fans have already begun calling for Mike Brown’s head and a first-round elimination after at one point leading the series 3-1 would certainly make for an interesting summer in L.A.
What the future holds for Jackson remains to be seen, but it will surely be a topic of interest over the next several months.
LeBron James Wins Third MVP Award: For the third time in his career, LeBron James has been selected as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. It won’t be official until a press conference at 1 p.m. on Saturday, but league sources confirm that James has won the award.
James had arguably the best season of his career, averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists. He was only the fourth player to average those totals in at least two different seasons, joining Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, and Larry Bird.
James is the eighth player in league history to win at least three MVP awards, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone. Every other player on that list won at least one championship during their career.
Predicting the Playoffs: Throughout the playoffs, our team has been picking the winner and number of games for every series. Find out how our writers did in the first round and see who we picked for the East’s Semi-Conference Round. Some of the picks may surprise you. Check it out and leave your predictions in the comment section!
Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you’re getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: If you are looking for the next NBA chats, you can find them here: Upcoming NBA Chats.