The Los Angeles Lakers and Phil Jackson are getting closer and closer to a deal that would bring the legendary head coach back to a third stint with the Purple & Gold. Both parties talked yesterday in L.A. and agreed to have a second meeting in a few days. It is still a negotiation process, as the sides try to reach an agreement that would certainly bolster the Laker Nation’s hopes for the season.
Jackson’s health has always been a concern when it comes to his return to the league, but it looks like it’s not that big of a deal this time. Phil has just went through a knee replacement surgery and people close to him state that the 13-time NBA champion – 2 as a player, 11 as a coach – is in good shape and motivated for a comeback. However, one of Jackson’s steepest demands is limiting the road games he will have to travel with the team, along with other responsibilities to ease on the health and stress level of the 67-year-old. Phil would also like to have increased input in the Lakers’ basketball decisions, as reports ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
Although Jackson is the clear-cut frontrunner for the vacant head coaching job of the Lakers, Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss and the rest of LAL’s front office already have other names in mind if the negotiations with the Zen Master fail. Those would be Mike D’Antoni and Mike Dunleavy, Sr.
D’Antoni has already been briefly interview via phone call on Saturday, but no further meetings have been scheduled as of now. The former head coach of the Suns and Knicks would make an interesting reuning with point guard Steve Nash, with whom he spent five seasons together in Phoenix, resulting in Nash’s best years of his career.
Mike Dunleavy, Sr. has not been formaly interview yet, but a phone call is also expected to reach the former NBA coach of the year in 1999 today. Dunleavy spent the last 8 years of his career as a member of the Clippers and also had a three year stint as the head coach of the Lakers from 1990 to 1992.
As of now, the Lakers will still ride with interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who will have his second game later tonight as the captain of the Purple & Gold’s ship, against the Sacramento Kings at the Staples Center, on 6:30 P.M. (PDT).