HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Maybe this Phil Jackson-to-the-Orlando Magic idea has legs after all.
A week after it was reported that Jackson had withdrawn himself from consideration to join the Magic in some front office capacity, Sam Amick of SI.com reports that the talks are still alive, but with a few new and interesting twists:
Former Charlotte coach Sam Vincent, who played for the Bulls during Jackson’s days as an assistant in Chicago and also played for the Magic, continues to captain the cause that would have Jackson work remotely (likely from Los Angeles, where his longtime girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, remains with the Lakers) most of the time. Vincent would operate in a front-office role in the plan, while the team would be coached by a protégé (or two) of Jackson’s.
According to the sources, the latest version of the proposal has Pacers assistant and ex-Lakers assistant Brian Shaw coaching the team and Hall of Famer and Bulls ambassador Scottie Pippen as the lead assistant. And as if Jackson’s potential price tag wasn’t daunting enough (he earned $12 million in his last year with the Lakers), one of the sources said he is asking for a slice of minority ownership in the franchise as well. The hope, of course, would be for Jackson to use his cachet to convince Dwight Howard to remain in Orlando for the long-term. Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, did not return a call for comment.
Yet fascinating as the idea might be, Magic CEO Alex Martins appears to be against the idea of having an absentee leader — no matter how many rings he has. In the plan, Jackson — according to one of the sources — would work in Orlando one week out of every month and agree to make six community appearances every month as well. Martins has been on the lookout for a general manager of a very different ilk since firing former general manager Otis Smith on May 21, preferring someone who, among other qualities, would be in the office daily.
The Magic are nearing the end to their search for a new general manager, but sources say there’s no clear frontrunner. The finalists are believed to be San Antonio vice president and assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey, former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower, Oklahoma City executives Troy Weaver and Rob Hennigan, and former Portland general manager and Indiana executive Kevin Pritchard.
So much of this seems to be the machinations of others trying to entice Jackson to return to the league in some capacity instead of Jackson wanting back in himself.
That’s probably the most prudent approach to take on this matter until Jackson actually speaks for himself and the surrogates move out of the way.