One of the ongoing rumors over the last few years has been the potential return of Phil Jackson to the Los Angeles Lakers in a front office position. After the Lakers spurned Jackson in favor of hiring Mike D’Antoni as head coach in 2012, many have been calling for Jackson’s return.
Jackson has since taken over as President of the New York Knicks, but even that job hasn’t stopped the rumors from circulating.
Jackson, however, shot down those rumors once again in an interview with Jackie MacMullan saying it was never important for him to return to the Lakers (transcribed by ESPN New York’s Ian Begley):
“They’re moving forward in the right direction. [First-year coach] Luke [Walton] has them engaged, Brian [Shaw] is an associate head coach; they have a core group of guys that will get it done. It was never important to me to go back and be a part of that,” Jackson said. “Especially not now. I have this job, this commitment.”
As Jackson has pointed out, the Lakers have things moving in the right direction with Luke Walton taking over as head coach and overseeing the Lakers’ surprising 6-5 start. Despite Jackson’s quotes, however, rumors could still continue thanks to the potential situation arising.
This season marks the final one of Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss’ self-imposed deadline to return the team to championship contention. Jackson also has an opt-out of his Knicks contract at the end of this year opening up a conceivable path towards Jackson’s return.
At this point, you simply have to take Jackson at his word. He has done a lot to try and improve the Knicks including drafting Kristaps Porzingis and trading for Derrick Rose. Everyone will simply have to wait and see what ultimately happens between Jackson, the Knicks, the Buss family, and the Lakers.