After nearly two seasons in retirement, Phil Jackson has become increasingly interested in working in the NBA next season, according to sources familiar with his thinking.
That doesn't necessarily mean a return to coaching, as Jackson is known to be intrigued by the concept of moving into management for the first time in his career
But sources told ESPN.com this week that Jackson is "itching" to go back to work after a long spell to recharge since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers' bench following the 2010-11 season.
Sources stressed that there is no specific opportunity in play yet for Jackson, who resisted coaching overtures from the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season and told longtime confidant Charley Rosen in January in a SheridanHoops.com story that he "has no intention of ever coaching again."
But NBA coaching sources say that stance will not dissuade teams with openings from approaching
Jackson this offseason to gauge his interest, with the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers -- who interviewed Jackson in 2005 and are known to be contemplating a coaching change -- potentially at the top of the list.
What has Jackson really intrigued, sources say, is the opportunity to oversee an organization in the patriarchal style of Pat Riley with the Miami Heat or in a role similar to that previously held by Larry Bird with the Indiana Pacers.
But it remains to be seen if a team will give him that sort of chance, given that the 67-year-old Jackson is the most successful coach in league history with 11 championship rings and has never held a prominent NBA personnel job.
There's always the chance, sources said, that Jackson will simply stay retired if none of the opportunities that arise proves to be the right fit.
But the presumption in league coaching circles is that teams with openings this offseason will naturally reach out to the most decorated coach available to see if there's any hope of persuading him to coach again, especially since it appears that the Lakers don't have a suitable role to offer Jackson at this time.
Although Jackson did speak with Lakers management about replacing Mike Brown in November before the club hired Mike D'Antoni instead, sources maintain that a return to Los Angeles is highly unlikely.
The Lakers' intent, sources insist, is bringing D'Antoni back next season to give him the chance to coach the team with a full training camp and a healthy roster. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash both missed more than 30 games this season, and Kobe Bryant suffered a season-ending Achilles' tear this past weekend.
There would also appear to be little room for Jackson in the Lakers' front office, with vice president Jim Buss and longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak running the team.
Finances are another factor, since the Lakers would be paying top dollar for three coaches at once if they decided to replace D'Antoni after one season and turned to Jackson.
Jackson's engagement to Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss, sources say, is not believed to be a factor in determining Jackson's next stop.
Edited by MDI, April 17, 2013 - 09:40 AM.