Since there are only three NBA teams left standing (Orlando is alive only in a George Romero movie kind of way), there are more than a fare share of bored fanbases pondering the prospects of next season.
In fact, if you didn’t actually follow the game, you’d assume the season had concluded already.
Funny thing is that an NBA Champion still has yet to be crowned. Unless, of course, you were among the countless media drones who anointed the Cleveland Cavaliers champions way back in December. How’d that workout?
Go ahead, ignore the conference finals and submerge yourselves in the LeBron futures market. Just don’t waste another second of your life speculating Phil Jackson’s future.
For PJ, it’s L.A. or bust.
Sure, the intriguing thought of Phil completing his legacy by ushering LeBron into the hall of NBA champions would be the perfect Hollywood ending. But that script hasn’t even been written much less greenlit.
However, as of today, PJ is being rumored for a possible return to Chicago or even ending his career in…New Jersey? Naturally these teams are being reported to have shown interest. Jackson himself has already stated where he wants to be next year and has made it clear where he won’t be coaching.
But since we’ve got a lot of disappointed fans out there with nothing better to do, these stories persist.
Here’s how these things work.
Step 1: Ignore the facts – Jackson didn’t mince words, he’s already told the world where he’s most likely going to be coaching next year if he’s coaching at all.
”I’d say it’s 90 percent that if I’m coaching it’ll be here (Los Angeles).”
At the beginning of the month, while the Lakers were preparing for the Utah Jazz (you know, the playoffs and what have you), Phil was specifically asked about coaching the Chicago Bulls, he responded with the following.
“No, I’m not,” Jackson said. “I think it’s a wonderful job for whoever takes it. It’s a team on the rise and there’s some young talent that showed their ability to come back after probably a devastating first two months. Then from January on they played pretty well.”
Step 2: Make it a money issue – After Phil indicated exactly where his interests lie the next step was to give him a reason to leave the Laker organization. Enter a 60% pay cut into the equation and voila! You’ve got yourself a reason to trump up another round of Phil speculation fresh off the interweb.
Mind you, Phil never actually said he wouldn’t take a pay cut or that it was a ‘make or break’ situation. He just stated that everyone is cutting salaries around the league so why wouldn’t Jerry Buss?
“A lot of it has to do with the direction the league is going, the direction the ownership wants to go in,” Jackson said. “People are cutting costs all around the league, and coaches are obviously going to take a cut too, so they may not even want to hire me. They may want to save some money.”
Step 3: Assume Phil is tired of winning titles – Ask Herm Edwards, he’ll tell you the reason why you play the game. Lost in all the Phil speculations is the simple fact that the Los Angeles Lakers offer him the best chance at tacking another Roman numeral onto his hat next year.
Sure there are other teams with attractive situations but they are all based on the ‘what if’ game.
What if LeBron goes to Chicago?
What if New Jersey offers Phil $12-million?
What if the Lakers win the title again this season?
Of all of the aforementioned, only the latter statement has an actually chance of occurring. At this point in time, the rest are figments of bored imaginations.
When you take a step back and look at the big picture, you’ll see that the only stable situation is the one that Phil currently finds himself in. The Lakers are playing for a shot at a title now and the roster is in tact for another chance next year.
The LeBron sweepstakes offer nothing else except excuses to get a few more clicks and to sell a few more ads – at least until July 1st.
Never forget that few sports figures have manipulated the media as much as PJ has over the years. No doubt he’s enjoying seeing the media dogs fruitlessly chasing their own tails.
So save yourself the trouble. Ignore the headlines and instead choose to simply watch the games. Who knows, maybe Phil will announce his plans on live television during the Larry O’Brien presentation. Then again, that’s just speculation on my part as well.