Sources close to Phil Jackson have been fueling rumors that Jackson wants to return to the NBA as a head coach or team executive.
I don't have any sources close to Phil Jackson, so I skipped that step and went directly to Phil Jackson.
Jackson, who earned 11 NBA championship rings as a coach and two as a player, was in Menlo Park on Saturday to receive a lifetime award from the Positive Coaching Alliance. The PCA people arranged for me to sit down with Jackson.
I asked him about the rumors, and the Old Zen Master threw me a curve - he gave me a straight answer. Who does that?
"I've had some talks with people," Jackson said, "and there are some interesting situations that are presenting themselves, but I really haven't made up my mind yet what I'm going to do. None of it involves coaching. ... There are three or four teams that have been interested."
It might be that there are only three or four teams not interested. Jackson could be a franchise game-changer.
Mark Cuban turned a loser into a winner in Dallas, Pat Riley worked his mystical magic on the Heat. Jackson could have that level of impact on a team if he were given full control, which is what he would demand - and get.
Jackson said he would be interested in a developing team "where you'd have the influence in (selecting the) coaching staff and the kind of culture that goes along with it. It goes all the way down to - not down to, but includes - trainers and the people who are doing the hands-on work with players, that have to be really embedded with how you put a team together. ... The support group is important; guys who get an opportunity to hear and talk and influence the players.
"It would be a real opportunity to implant the game, a culture that I believe in - that's the intriguing part."
Jackson said there is no timeline and that an offer "really has to grab" him.
"I've been fortunate in my life to have things just kind of come out of a backdrop and present themselves to me, challenges or issues, and that's what's got to happen here, that I think really makes a difference for me, then I'll say, 'This is the right one,' " he said.
Jackson and Pat Riley were bitter coaching rivals, as well as the leaders of a movement that brought elements of psychology and metaphysics to NBA coaching.
Riley carried that vibe to Miami, and now Jackson is talking about wrapping an entire NBA franchise in his unique holistic/spiritual/Zen philosophy.
The Warriors probably are not one of the teams kicking Jackson's tires. He's talking about building an organization from the ground up, and it's hard to imagine Warriors owner Joe Lacob giving Jackson freedom to toss out Mark Jackson, Bob Myers, Jerry West and company, and even take away some of Lacob's input. It's also unlikely that Jackson's dream front-office team is already in place in Oakland.
I asked Phil Jackson about Mark Jackson. I again expected a cliche answer about what a swell job Mark Jackson is doing. Instead:
"I have some problems with guys going directly from the (television) booth to coaching, without any preparation," said Phil Jackson, who worked his way up from coaching in minor-league outposts like Albany and Puerto Rico. "It's not that easy. Doc Rivers did it, and other guys have done it, and I think Mark was prepared to do that, but it's still a shock, so to speak - the practice, preparation and the whole nine yards, when you've been sitting on the observing end of it. ...
"But I hold nothing against Mark for having the opportunity."
The Warriors' owners have reinvented the franchise, and they seem happy with the people and the results, so rule out the Warriors for Jackson. Which teams might covet Jackson (and vice versa)? Rusty Simmons, The Chronicle's beat writer on the Warriors, helped me compile a short list:
-- The Kings. If Chris Hansen buys 'em and moves the team to Seattle, Jackson might be driving the moving van.
-- The Nets. Jackson's New York connection is strong, and the Nets' owner thinks (and pays) big.
-- The Bobcats. Michael Jordan keeps insisting he's done with the personnel biz. Jordan and Jackson are acquainted.
-- The Cavaliers. Building a Kyrie Irving-led team to take on mighty Miami and evil Dr. Riley might stir Jackson's juices.
-- The Clippers. Jackson might like the idea of unseating the Lakers as kings of Los Angeles sports. However, Jackson and Clips owner Donald Sterling are probably a terrible mix, philosophically.
-- The Lakers. Ripe for major makeover under a proven and beloved man.