Phil Jackson to Decide on Lakers Future Within One Week After Finals
BOSTON -- Phil Jackson said he plans to let Lakers owner Jerry Buss know within a week after the NBA Finals end whether he will return next season as coach.
"As soon as the season is over, within a week, I'll have some answers,'' Jackson said Thursday in an interview with FanHouse. "It has to be real short.''
In the interview, Jackson said his medical condition is by far the most important concern. Asked if whether the Lakers, who lead Boston 2-1 entering Thursday night's Game 4, win or don't win the title will affect his decision, Jackson said, "It doesn't matter.''
Jackson, 64, then stressed his medical situation is the "very first thing I have to think about.'' He has had both hips replaced, but has concerns about whether his bad knees might hold up for all of next season. He said there are a "lot of procedures I have to go through in the offseason,'' saying work might need to be done on his knees.
Jackson said he will be thoroughly checked by doctors as soon as the season ends. He said he doesn't want to see something happen with the Lakers similar to what occurred in Denver when George Karl missed the last 1 1/2 months of this season battling a form of throat cancer. Karl was replaced by assistant Adrian Dantley on an interim basis, and the Nuggets struggled late in the season and were upset by Utah, 4-2, in the first round of the playoffs.
"I told Dr. Buss I don't want to sit in a situation that happened with George Karl,'' said Jackson, a free agent after the season. "I think that's putting a team under jeopardy and those are things that are my responsibility to do to make sure there's nothing lingering here that I can find. So that's my first priority, and then I'll give him an answer within a week.''
Jackson had spoken strongly about being likely to return to the Lakers in a May 27 interview with FanHouse. Asked then about any possible interest in the Cleveland job, Jackson said he hadn't thought about it, but that Los Angeles "is the place that I've coached the last 10 years and I anticipate doing it more.''
Asked then 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 on Thursday said his chances of returning are "status quo.'' But he said he can't really know anything until after he is checked medically.
"I have a timetable after the season,'' Jackson said. "Go get medical reports and sit on it and think about it for a couple of days and come back with some answers. ... (Jackson's health issues) are the priorities. Then after (Jackson gets the medical reports), that's a decision I'll do or don't (want to coach). If I do want to or I don't want to.''
With the Finals ending no later than June 17, that decision will come by the June 24 draft if Jackson adheres to his deadline.
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