ESPN: Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson said in a radio interview Tuesday that he will make a firm decision about returning to the bench next season by “early July” and that he will also explore the possibility of letting Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis coach more road games in Jackson’s place.
In the interview with ESPN Radio in Los Angeles (710 AM), Jackson insisted that health concerns would be the only reason that prevented him from completing the final season of his current coaching contract.
He also revealed that the concept of Rambis coaching the team regularly on the road — theoretically sparing Jackson, who turns 64 in September, from the rigors of travel — has already been discussed internally.
The Lakers completed a test run of the concept in April when Jackson, having had both of his hips replaced in recent years, skipped a one-game trip to Portland on the second night of back-to-back games shortly after the team had finished a grueling seven-game trip. With Rambis in charge, L.A. suffered a 106-98 loss to the Blazers.
“Yeah, we’ve toyed around with that idea actually,” Jackson told ESPN Radio hosts John Ireland and Mychal Thompson. “I guess it’s not that revolutionary. We talked a little bit about it, and you know I was actually kind of given the green light to actually try this out and when the time came.”
“I think the idea has some merit to it,” Jackson went on. “[But] I don’t want to lose control of the team. And I think that’s the one thing that you find out your team needs. I don’t mean control, like control, but like being in the trenches with them, i.e., when things get tough or something happens, you’re there with them. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this idea and it’s certainly not going to be the last. And I’m going to discuss it a little with [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak], that same idea.”