Tuesday, 10 May 2011

NBA AM: Phil Jackson To The Knicks? - hoopsworld

Posted by chardyboy on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 0 comments

source: By: Lang Greene 

The Los Angeles Lakers, attempting to pull off a three-peat, suffered an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs, a defeat which has stunned many around the league. In the aftermath there have been calls to blow up the team's current roster and plenty of speculation regarding the unit's trust issues with each other throughout the season. 

And the speculation continues. 

Less than forty-eight hours after Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson presumably coached his last NBA game, a league source confirmed to the New York Post that Jackson is definitely finished in Los Angeles but may indeed be open to offers in the future – which may include the New York Knicks in 2012. 

"If the right situation presented itself, he would have to consider it," the league source told Marc Berman of the New York Post. "Phil's going to have to find a way to keep himself occupied and fulfilled because Jeanie [Buss, Lakers executive and Jackson's girlfriend] is not retiring."

It goes without saying that a proven head coach possessing eleven NBA championship rings will be in high demand around the league for the foreseeable future. Every team close to championship contention looking to fill a coaching void will have to at least ring Jackson's phone and gauge his interest in returning to the sidelines out of pure protocol – standard procedure. 

Most of these rumors will easily be dismissed, but Jackson has a deep rooted history in New York and seriously considered taking the reins of the Knicks in 2005 before returning to Los Angeles after his second retirement from coaching. 

Buss, the daughter of owner Jerry Buss, confirmed this to the New York Post back in February.
"I can tell you he was open to going to the Knicks in 2005, then the Laker job opened up," Buss said before Jackson appeared at Madison Square Garden in February, presumably the last time as coach. "The Knicks job would bring him full circle and I wouldn't stop him. I am in New York several days every month for business. That being said, the Knicks have a very good coach and are doing very well. So it shouldn't matter."

One roadblock to Jackson coaching in New York as it currently stands is the presence of Mike D'Antoni.

Finally there is optimism surrounding the Knicks as the team finished above .500 for the first time since 2002, made their first postseason appearance since 2004 and have All-Star forwards Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony under contract through their primes. 

However the Knicks limped down the stretch of the regular season and were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. 

While the Knicks are committed to D'Antoni through 2012, the veteran coach was reportedly on the hot seat at various times throughout the season.

If New York struggles next season and fails to live up to the lofty expectations, the organization will be in the market for a head coach and have an owner in James Dolan who would be more than willing to offer a  financially lucrative package to a coach of Jackson's stature.

Outside of lucrative compensation packages and the opportunity to coach two stars in their prime, Jackson won two titles as a reserve forward with the team in the seventies and often credits Red Holzman, his coach at the time, as being his mentor while he developed his craft.

Jackson will turn 66 in September so this retirement is likely to be the finale, but if the Knicks came calling after he's had a full year of rest and give him an opportunity to return to his old stomping grounds and join a team on the rise you have to wonder if the competitive fires will lead him back to the Big Apple.

For now, Jackson seems intent on retiring and not looking back.    
"All my hopes and aspirations are this is the final game I'll coach," Jackson told the media after the Lakers were swept from the playoffs. "This has been a wonderful run."

So Who Is Going To Coach The Lakers?

With Jackson heading to Montana to spend more time at his farm, the Lakers are in need of a coach to take the helm. 

The heir apparent seems to be current assistant Brian Shaw.
Shaw won three titles with the Lakers as a player and has full knowledge of the triangle offense serving as Jackson's assistant for the past six years.

If the club doesn't blow up the roster and wants continuity it would seem as though Shaw would get a strong look since he has the respect of All-Star guard Kobe Bryant. 
However if the Lakers decide to retool on the fly or seek a coach with experience (Shaw has no head coaching experience) there are a host of other candidates to choose from.

Let's take a look at some of the names the Los Angeles Times listed as early candidates

Doc Rivers: The current Celtics coach has long stated that he wants to take some time away from the game to spend with family, so it's improbable that the Lakers would pursue him strongly. Reason being is that Bryant is entering the twilight of his career, so the team would want someone to be fully engaged at least for the next three seasons.

Rick Adelman: The veteran coach, who was just dismissed by the Houston Rockets, has compiled a career record of 945-616 in stints with Portland, Golden State, Sacramento and Houston. 
He led the Trail Blazers to two finals appearances in the early nineties and hasn't hinted at retirement from coaching though at 64 he's only one year younger than the departed Jackson. 

Byron Scott: Though Scott possesses a sub .500 career record on the bench (371-418), like Adelman he also holds two finals appearances on the resume leading the New Jersey Nets there in 2002 and 2003. 

Scott also won coach of the year in 2008 leading the New Orleans Hornets to 56 wins that season.
In addition, Scott suited up for the Lakers in eleven seasons during his playing career winning three titles as a member of the "Showtime" teams led by Hall of Fame guard Magic Johnson.
Scott is the current coach of the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers, a position he accepted before LeBron James took his talents to Miami last summer.
If the Lakers were to pry Scott away from Cleveland it is extremely likely the team would have to compensate the Cavaliers (draft picks, cash, etc.). 

Larry Brown: The Hall of Fame coach unceremoniously parted ways with the Charlotte Bobcats just 28 games into the 2011 campaign.
Brown, who commands respect from players and remains one of the best teachers around the game, won a title as coach of the Detroit Pistons in 2004 (NBA coaching career mark: 1098-904). 
The issue with Brown is that upon his arrival to a franchise, massive roster changes are usually the direct result. Brown tends to favor roster turnover and acquiring specific types of guys to play his style of basketball. 

Current Lakers, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, Derek Fisher and Ron Artest seemingly fit Brown's preference of tough minded veterans while All-Star forward Pau Gasol does not.
Brown will be 71 at the start of the 2012 season but still hasn't fully ruled out a return to the sidelines. 

Grant Hill Snubbed From All-Defensive Team?
The NBA announced the 2011 All-Defensive team members yesterday and as expected there were a few notable omissions from the list. 

In the West, Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill finished seventh in media voting racking up four first-team votes and three second-team votes for All-Defensive honors but surprisingly was not among the top 10 picked by twenty-two opposing coaches.

Suns head coach Alvin Gentry took exception to the snub on Monday.

"No one did more defensively for their team than him," Gentry said of Hill to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. "He got punished for what we did as a team. I'd like to know who else guarded Amar'e Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Durant and everything but a five (center)."

Gentry had a point. 

All of the players selected to this year's All-Defensive teams are members of teams who reached the postseason. 

Hill, 38, despite five All-NBA selections has never been named to the All-Defensive squad in sixteen seasons as a professional.

There were other candidates who also had legitimate gripes for being snubbed such as Chicago's Luol Deng or Atlanta's Josh Smith, but ultimately every team of this nature is going to have guys on the borderline who are omitted. 

Sadly for Hill this may have been his last chance to add the All-Defensive recognition to his already stacked mantle. 

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