Don't expect to see Phil Jackson back on the bench any time soon. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)When the Los Angeles Lakers decided to fire Mike Brown, the name at the top of most fans' coaching wish lists was Phil Jackson. This makes sense, as Jackson led the Lakers to five NBA championships between 1999 and 2011.
When the Brooklyn Nets decided to fire Avery Johnson, the name at the top of most fans' — and, reportedly, Nets executives' — was Phil Jackson. This makes sense, as Jackson has won more NBA titles than any other coach in league history, which would seem to track with owner Mikhail Prokhorov's bigger/better/faster/more ethos.
When the Milwaukee Bucks decided to "part ways" with coach Scott Skiles, the name at the top of their coaching wish list was ... well, probably lead assistant Jim Boylan, because the idea of Phil going to Milwaukee was too far-fetched to ever even really get considered. (Not that Jackson could outpace Boylan's 1.000 winning percentage on the Bucks' bench.)
If any other teams out there are planning on making a coaching change in the near future, though, their lists are going to have to exclude the 11-time champion; as the recently engaged Zen Master told Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com on Tuesday, he's off the market in more ways than one:
Phil Jackson will NOT be back as a coach this season. He said so himself Tuesday.
“I have no intention of ever coaching again,” Jackson told SheridanHoops.com in a brief statement.
The statement to Sheridan falls in line with Jackson's post-Thanksgiving comments, in which the 67-year-old former Lakers and Chicago Bulls legend declared the chances of him ever coaching in the NBA again "slim and none."
Of course, as Sheridan and others have noted, they also fall in line in their open-ended vagueness — "intentions" can change, depending on how many commas and zeroes there are on an owner's check, and "ever coaching again" doesn't preclude the prospect of Jackson taking a front office position elsewhere. One looking for alternative interpretations could find plenty of them in Jackson's eight-word chat with Sheridan; after all, Phil's always had a gift for, and a love of, wordplay.
Ultimately, comments like this don't really change much of anything. While Sheridan and others view it as a nod toward interim Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo keeping that job throughout the season, that was probably going to happen anyway; the 6-1 record he's amassed since Johnson's firing, with Brook Lopez healthy and jumpers finally falling for Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, doesn't hurt matters, either. (Not that P.J.'s buying what Phil's selling anyway, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.)
While Jackson's statement of "intention" makes it seem like he wouldn't entertain a job at the moment, marquee franchises with deep-pocketed owners will always at least take his temperature about a possible union, because any front office that doesn't find out if the most decorated coach in NBA history wants a gig wouldn't be doing its due diligence. And while Jackson's level of interest in any or all of those jobs might be infinitesimal at best, it's unlikely he'll ever stop entertaining the inquiries, because that's the prerogative of NBA jewerly; it's always fun to be the prettiest girl at the dance. For the moment, this is all just conversation for the sake of conversation — at least, until Jackson gets intentional about changing the topic.