While both sides have denied a reunion, Phil Jackson may be the man in charge of the Los Angeles Lakers next year, according to Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register.
Both Jackson and his fiance/Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, have denied that the record 11-time NBA champion (five with the Lakers) head coach is looking to leave his post in New York for a Hollywood return. Jackson, 71, is in his third year as the Knicks' team president and has a July 1, 2017, opt-out clause -- which sources tell Heisler could prompt Jackson to leave The Big Apple.
"I have not entertained that (opting out of his contract)," Jackson recently told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. "I'm looking for this Knicks team to get back into a situation where they are competitive. Do I have to win a championship before I feel I've done the job I've been asked to do, which is to bring this group back to that competitive level? No, I don't. We're starting to make progress. I like a lot of the things we are doing here. But we've got more to do."
Heisler notes that there's a '50-50' chance Jackson leaves the Knicks for the Lakers. He adds that Jackson's future in New York hinges on how well the Knicks do this season. The team currently sports an 8-8 record following offseason acquisitions Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and head coach Jeff Hornacek. Incumbents Carmelo Anthony and second-year Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis have performed well.
However, Knicks owner Jim Dolan may be hesitant to continue paying Jackson $12 million per year to run a team on the fringes of playoff contention. There may also be nobody stopping Jackson from returning to Los Angeles; co-owner and brother of Jeanie, Jim Buss, previously vetoed bringing Jackson back to the organization but has promised to step down if the Lakers do not become contenders in the immediate future.
If that comes to pass, Jackson's path to his throne in Los Angeles loses one major obstacle.