MIAMI — Phil Jackson in Cleveland?
Go ahead and let that sink in for a minute …
If the Cleveland Cavaliers have their way, that won’t just be a question … it’ll be a reality. The Cavaliers’ coaching search shifted from reuniting with former coach Mike Brown to focusing on another, much more accomplished former Los Angeles Lakers coach.
The Cavs have entered the Zen Master’s zone, per a report from ESPN.com, as they reached out to the “retired” Jackson to gauge his interest in coming aboard to help revive the franchise. It’s not the first time the Cavs have approached Jackson:
Jackson interviewed with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert in 2005, when Gilbert was looking for a coach. That year, Gilbert ended up hiring Mike Brown.
Brown and the Cavs have mutual interest in a reunion. Gilbert and Brown met over dinner Sunday night, a league source confirmed.
Jackson is considering other coaching options, sources said. The Brooklyn Nets and possibly the Sacramento Kings — if they relocate to Seattle — are two teams likely to appeal to Jackson more than the Cavaliers, according to sources close to the situation.
The Nets reached out to Jackson before even firing coach Avery Johnson last fall and are expected to check his interest again following the season. The Seattle-based group attempting to purchase and relocate the Kings, led by investor Chris Hansen, is interested in bringing Jackson on board in an executive role if it wins approval for the deal, sources said.
Jackson is believed to be looking for a similar situation as Pat Riley has with the Miami Heat– oversee personnel moves and mentor a head coach. To land and keep Riley, the Heat gave him a deal that included an ownership stake in the franchise.
Jackson entertaining an offer to get back into coaching is one thing. To dive into a situation in need of as much rebuilding work as the Cavs require, however, seems like a longshot. All-Star Kyrie Irving is a promising young talent and the Cavaliers will have financial flexibility this summer, but they just don’t fit Jackson’s usual profile.
With a number of potential coaching vacancies this summer, and Jackson high on the wish list in each and every instance, it makes sense for the Cavaliers to be proactive in their pursuit of arguably the best coach in NBA history.
Whether or not that pursuit produces anything other than interesting headlines and lots of chatter remains to be seen.