Jackson Calls Cleveland Situation 'Odd,' Speaks Strongly of Lakers Return
In an interview with FanHouse, Jackson, who becomes a free agent after the season, was asked if he would be interested in the Cleveland job. He said he hadn't thought about it, but said about the Lakers, "This is the place that I've coached the last 10 years and I anticipate doing it more.''
Asked if he anticipates returning to the Lakers, Jackson said, "Yeah.'' But when asked if this was any revelation Jackson was providing, he reverted back to what he has said previously, saying, "No. Like I've said, 90 percent chance that, if I'm coaching, I'll be back here.''
Jackson already has shot down a report linking him to the opening in Chicago, which Jackson led to six titles in the 1990s. But he now has not completely closed the door on jobs in Cleveland and New Jersey.
The Cavaliers, who fired Mike Brown earlier this week, are expected to look into the availability of Jackson. But, while Jackson's response to the Cleveland opening was "I haven't thought about it,'' he didn't appear to be enamored with how the Cavaliers might handle matters.
"It's an extremely odd situation,'' said Jackson, speaking after the morning shootaround at the Lakers' practice facility, preparing to play Phoenix on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. "Anybody who's in control of the decision making knows that you have to consult with LeBron, and consulting with him is kind of odd because July 1 he's a free agent (if James opts out of his contract). So there are no guarantees to that. He obviously wants to look at free agency. So he's more than likely going to have a choice on what he wants to have done as far as some coaching names, and that's not unusual in this game.
"As a coach, you really question whether you want to be a handpicked guy and then have to discipline and take care of somebody, the stuff you have to do. You have to coach players regardless of who they are. So that always makes some things issues. But I know my organization probably won't do it that way. But in (Cleveland's) situation, it's almost impossible not to.''
Jackson was asked if he anticipates the Cavaliers taking a long time to make a coaching decision due to the uncertainty over what might happen with James' free agency.
"I think a lot of teams are going to wait and see what happens in free agency, see what's going to be the draw there,'' Jackson said.
ESPN reported earlier this week the Bulls and Nets both have made "back-channel'' inquires about hiring Jackson, although New Jersey president Rod Thorn told FanHouse there has been no contact by his team and Thorn believes Jackson will stay in Los Angeles. While Jackson did not totally rule out the Nets and also hasn't done so with Cleveland, Jackson was asked why he said Tuesday he has "no desire'' to return to the Bulls.
"There's so much energy in Chicago because of my past with them that it's like it's almost unfair to them as an organization to keep that hanging out there,'' Jackson said. "So I don't want to do that.''
Jackson coached the Bulls from 1989-98. He offered a rebuttal to Miami star Dwyane Wade, a Chicago native who likely will be a free agent this summer, having told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that the Bulls haven't been loyal to former stars. While Wade was primarily talking about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen not being a part of the organization now, Jackson said many other players from Jackson's era are.
"(Wade) made some statement about the Bulls not being loyal,'' Jackson said. "However, he forgot that there are about six or seven people there (from Jackson's era) still with the Bulls like Bill Wennington and Stacey King (both broadcasters) and John Paxson (team executive) and on and on, Pete Myers (assistant coach), and so forth and so on. But I guess he was looking at Pippen and Jordan. I guess that was just the front of the Bulls.''
Jackson, who has been with Los Angeles since 1999 with the exception of the 2004-05 season, now has coached for one season more with the Lakers than with the Bulls. He has offered various accounts of his chances of returning next season to the Lakers, but Thursday's comments indicate those chances certainly haven't decreased.
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