The Los Angeles Lakers are on the verge of a new era — one that probably won’t include the Zen Master.
After a couple atrocious seasons for one of the NBA’s most prestigious franchises, things are looking up for the purple and gold. Luke Walton’s on his way to Los Angeles to take over as coach, the Lakers have the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and there are plenty of young, talented players on the roster moving forward.
As the Lakers have pulled themselves out of the hole they dug at the end of the Kobe Bryant era, there’s been quite a bit of clamoring for Phil Jackson to come home and take part in the rebuild. But Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, who’s famously engaged to Jackson, made it clear on Monday that the eleven-time champion is happy with the New York Knicks and won’t be coming back to Los Angeles.
“No,” Buss said. “To visit, yes … but in terms of basketball, he’s committed to New York for many years. He’s building something there. He has a mission, he’s on that journey to get the team back to where he believes it can be and it will be. He’s a former Knick … he loves New York, he loves the fans, he wants to make them proud. In terms of the Lakers, we have a front office. They’re putting together a team … they have a vision. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us. So, to answer your question … no, there’s no plans for Phil to come back here.“
The news will likely disappoint many Lakers fans, but rest assured — this is a very good thing. It’s not that Jackson has proven to be a poor NBA executive; he gets a lot of flack for his unorthodox style, but the Knicks have largely made positive personnel decisions during his time with the team. And Jackson showed he’s more flexibile than many believe when New York hired Jeff Hornacek as head coach this offseason. Hornacek is about as far from a triangle offense disciple as you can get, after all.
But the Lakers are in the middle of a rebuild, and for once, the franchise seems to have a plan going forward. Bringing Jackson in at this point would disrupt everything and just serve as a massive distraction. All the questions the Knicks have faced about the triangle and Jackson’s commitment to serving in the front office would come up once again in Los Angeles.
And what role would Jackson theoretically serve with the Lakers? Would he push general manager Mitch Kupchak out the door? Would Jackson’s arrival herald Jim Buss’ departure from the organization, with the Zen Master serving as president of the organization?
It’s simply not worth the headache for an organization that needs to get back to its former winning ways as soon as possible. Jackson’s doing just fine in New York, and the Lakers are fine without him. Let’s keep it that way.