NBA notes: Will MJ turn to Phil to save 'Cats?
A quick trip around the NBA:
• Rumors are swirling that Michael Jordan is ready to offer Phil Jackson a piece of the Charlotte Bobcats and an executive position, giving Jackson total control of the basketball side. Jordan owns the Bobcats, who fired coach Mike Dunlap after one season.
• Jordan, of course, also won six titles as a player under Jackson with Chicago. He and Jackson remain close, and with the Bobcats looking to make a splash this offseason … well, they couldn’t do better than Jackson, an 11-time champion.
• Jackson has made it pretty clear he’d like to return to the NBA, but almost strictly in a front-office role. He says he doesn’t want to coach. His name has also been tied to the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings.
• The ownership group that’s trying to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle is said to be targeting Jackson as its top decision-maker. Sheridanhoops.com reported that may be Jackson’s top choice, as he likes the idea of trying to build a championship team from scratch and “has had his fill of living in cold-weather climates” like Chicago.
• Of course, if that truly is Jackson's criteria (warm weather, building a team from scratch), Charlotte would be a good match, too.
• Also, if Jackson lands a front-office job, most folks in league circles believe he’d target former assistant Brian Shaw as his next coach. Shaw is currently an assistant with Indiana.
• As for Jordan, Jackson and the Bobcats, one general manager cautions it’s just a rumor at the moment. These are the types of things NBA execs and coaches like to discuss as the offseason approaches. That’s especially true of GMs and coaches whose teams failed to make the playoffs.
• Even if the Jackson rumors aren’t true, the fact is the Bobcats’ coaching vacancy suddenly has some appeal. On top of fine young talent such as Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, they possess gobs of wiggle room under the salary cap, with another top-five draft pick on the way.
• One opposing GM on the Bobcats: “That’s not a dire situation by any stretch. People are railing Michael Jordan, but that team has the youth and assets to make a quick turnaround. A lot of teams oversell that idea. The Bobcats don’t sell it at all. But (Jordan) actually has them set up nicely. It’s just about making the right moves from here.”
• Moving on … Phoenix is another organization looking to shake things up after a rare year of missing the playoffs. The Suns have already fired GM Lance Blanks, and by all indications, will hire a coach to replace interim man Lindsey Hunter. Word is, the Suns will hire the GM first and let him pick the coach.
• The Suns also have an abundance of available cap space and an owner (Robert Sarver) who’s supposedly looking to alter his reputation as a cheapskate. Expect them to make a major run at Atlanta free agent Josh Smith, as well as Al Jefferson of Utah.
• With new coach Mike Brown and his new defense-first (and second and third) philosophy, league executives say Cleveland appears ready to part with any of its young players not named Kyrie Irving. That doesn’t mean Chris Grant will actively shop guys — it just means he’ll take your calls.
• Basically, like the Suns and Bobcats, the Cavaliers have money to spare under the cap. Unlike Phoenix and Charlotte, Cleveland is a cold-weather city and will likely have trouble attracting free agents. But Grant likes to make trades and feels confident he can build the team that way.