The woes of the Los Angeles Lakers this season have led to numerous rumors and speculations about the state of the team.
One such rumor was a report from both Stephen A. Smith and Adrian Wojnarowski (to varying extents) that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson would angle his way to an executive role with the team. That would likely mean that Mitch Kupchak would be relieved of his duties as general manager and that Jim Buss would no longer be the primary decision maker in the basketball department.
According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, however, it is highly unlikely that Jackson rejoins the Lakers in any capacity.
Following transcribed by Harrison Faigen and Silver Screen and Roll:
“That’s been a perception throughout the league that at some point Phil is going to come back to the Lakers after being done with the Knicks, but I can tell you that there is a zero percent chance of that happening this summer,” said Medina. “It’s been made clear to me that there’s not going to be any changes in the front office.
“The only change that could possibly happen would be as early as the 2017 off-season,” Medina continued. “You have to keep in mind, that was when Jim Buss said ‘that’s the timeline, if the Lakers aren’t able to head to the Western Conference Finals by that point, I’ll step down’ and Jeanie Buss has told me and others since then she will hold him accountable to that, but obviously it’s still 2016 now, and in her view she wants to see how this plays out.”
If Medina’s report is true (and due to his proximity with the team, there is reason to believe it is) it seems apparent that Lakers management will have another year to turn the fortunes of the team around.
Kupchak has good standing with ownership and has mostly been regarded as a top GM during his tenure. Buss, meanwhile, has a self-imposed deadline to improve the state of the team but no self-imposed guidelines by which to judge it. That makes his removal as the ultimate decision maker within basketball operations highly improbable.
Nevertheless, with the Lakers seemingly poised to reach another franchise low in wins this season, there is reason to believe that changes could come. As it stands now, that change will not include Phil Jackson. So, let’s all take a Chill Phil. (Credit/blame for that to Grant Goldberg.)