Jackson banking return to Lakers on health

phil.jpgESPN: Phil Jackson hopes to reach a decision on his coaching future in the next four weeks.

Jackson, who turned 62 last month, is in the final season of the three-year, $30 million contract he signed before the 2005-06 season.

“I just told Dr. Buss it hinged upon my recovery,” Jackson said Tuesday, referring to Lakers owner Jerry Buss. “Hopefully that doesn’t run into the season, when wins and losses become a priority.”

Jackson underwent hip replacement surgery in June — his second such operation in less than a year. He’s still using a cane, but said he’s been making progress. The Lakers open the season Oct. 30 against the Houston Rockets.

Jackson coached the Lakers to three championships and a fourth berth in the NBA Finals from 2000-04. At that stage, he wasn’t invited back, and was out of coaching for a year before returning. The Lakers have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of Jackson’s two seasons in his second tour of duty with the team.

“We’ve extended an offer to have him return,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “That’s our position. We’re hopeful. The lame duck situation, I don’t think that applies to Phil. This is something where there’s a standing offer.”

Jackson enters the season with nine championships as a head coach, tying him with former Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach for the NBA record. Jackson coached the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls to six titles in the 1990s.

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