On Friday, June 15, former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson told HBO's "Real Sports" that "there might be" an NBA job he'd be willing to take. His comments came just one year after moving on from the Lakers.
At age 66, the 11-time NBA champion still has a few more years left in him, but the real question is which job would he be willing to take? Jackson said that he wouldn't have taken the New York Knicks' job due to roster issues. He also noted that Orlando is too far away from his Montana home. It appears that rosters and location are the important factors for him.
Three teams come to mind when I think of solid fits for Jackson: the Los Angeles Clippers, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. There may be other teams that fill Jackson's criteria, but these three teams make the most sense to me.
The Trail Blazers
This is a solid fit. The Blazers already have some pieces on their roster to build around. They also have two picks in the lottery portion of the 2012 NBA Draft. Portland should have a good, young team for Jackson to mold together.
However, it appears that the Blazers don't plan on hiring a new head coach until after the draft, and the team may stick with the popular Kaleb Canales instead of picking someone outside of the organization. Still, I'd keep an eye on the Trail Blazers. Portland is one of the closest NBA cities to Montana, and there is definitely enough potential on that roster for Jackson to consider coaching the team.
Jackson might not want to head back to Los Angeles, but an opportunity to coach Chris Paul and Blake Griffin would be extremely tempting. The Clippers also have some other talented pieces on the roster for him to work with as well. If Jackson could get past sharing a building with the Lakers, Jackson would be a decent fit.
This is the team that I feel would be most attractive to Jackson. The only problem is that the T-Wolves have Rick Adelman in place as their head coach. I realize this is a bit controversial, but if Jackson expressed interest in the T-Wolves, I could see the team making a move for him. Adelman is a good coach, but he's never been able to beat Jackson. I also think T-Wolves roster fits Jackson well, especially with Kevin Love leading the team.
There are other clubs out there that I believe would be a good fit for Jackson, but most of them have stable coaching positions or are too far away from Montana. The one team for which Jackson is a complete fit remains the Lakers, but there is too much water under the bridge for the two sides to come together. That's unfortunate. Jackson knew how to handle his players, which is something Mike Brown struggled with this season.
I'm not entirely sure if Jackson will come out of retirement, but I think he dropped some important hints during his interview with HBO. I think Jackson still wants to coach, and if that's the case, someone will hire him. The only question is which team will it be?
Derek Ciapala has been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers since childhood. His favorite Lakers' moment is when they beat the Detroit Pistons 108-105 in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.