Just when you thought Laker media storms had subsided, for a few years at least, we get a coaching crisis. With Rudy Tomjanovich reportedly on his way out, Phil Jackson is said to be "mulling" a return. Jackson is vacationing in Australia with Luc Longley and brought up a return in an e-mail, writing: "[I am] mulling that over in my mind. Luc and I are going for a swim this p.m. [in the] Indian Ocean."
Thanks for the imagery, Phil.
LAist was at first incredulous to the idea that Jackson would return. Sure, he might miss Jeannie. Who wouldn't? But after thoroughly dissing Kobe Bryant in his book, severely damaging the superstar's reputation, why would he ever want to coach Kobe again? And why would Kobe take him back so easily?
It seems Kobe is a very forgiving person, and the LA Times reports that Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak have already talked him into the idea. As for Phil, LAist figured that it was only a matter of time before he'd want a challenge, since some people dismiss him as an average coach who was just fortunate to have Jordan and Shaq. Of course that doesn't mean he'd want a hopeless situation like the Knicks. But coming back to the Lakers? The profession of coaching must really be like cocaine to some people.
Regardless, LAist would welcome back Phil Jackson with open arms. We think he's one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, if not, the greatest. We remember that the Lakers were an underachieving team going nowhere under Del Harris, and it was Phil Jackson who changed all that.
The other possible candidates don't have Jackson's clout. ESPN.com is reporting that Jim Calhoun is a candidate. Just what exactly is Mitch Kupchak's fascination with college coaches? They almost never succeed in the NBA. Calhoun is a great college coach, and a great recruiter, but how does that translate to the Lakers? Last time around Kupchak also considered Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, and of course, Coach K, but we can't imagine any of them coming to LA. One interesting possibility is Eric Musselman, the former Warriors coach who is now an assistant in Memphis. LAist has always felt that he's a budding coaching star. But if Phil Jackson doesn't work out, and there are no intriguing candidates after the season, we have no qualms with a return of a different ex-Laker coach: Kurt Rambis. Now he's experienced as an assistant, has seen turmoil up close and knows how to handle it, and he's always been well-respected by players and NBA personnel alike.
Through all the chaos, LAist has to give props to Frank Hamblem, for managing to coach a rather impressive 92-79 victory over Portland last night.