Despite hearing that legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson was not interested in the newly vacated Brooklyn Nets coaching position, the team has still put Jackson at the top of their list of potential candidates, according to league sources via ESPN.
The Nets began their search for a new head man after dismissing Avery Johnson after just 28 games earlier this week. Since Jackson showed a desire to return to the Lakers before he was ultimately passed on in favor of Mike D’Antoni, the Nets figured he may be looking for an NBA coaching gig, but apparently the 11-time NBA Finals champion can still afford to be picky when it comes to landing his next job. Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, told TNT’s David Aldridge on Thursday that his client has “no interest in the Nets’ job at this time.”
However, an ESPN source got the latest from Jackson, who said he would entertain an offer from Brooklyn and that the negotiations he had with the Lakers earlier this season did indeed get him “thinking about coaching again.”
Other sources said that the Lakers deal fell through because the organization was not able to meet the salary and coaching terms that Jackson requested. With billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov running the deal, money would likely not be an issue with the Nets, which appear willing to spend whatever is necessary to land arguably the greatest basketball coach off all-time.
Of course, Brooklyn is not about to put all its eggs in one basket. The team has also named Kelvin Sampson as a potential candidate and the churning rumor mill has also spit out Larry Brown, Nate McMillan and Mike Dunleavy as possible candidates.
“I’m from Brooklyn. Coaching there would be a dream come true,” a tweet from Dunleavy read on SirusXM Basketball.
P.J. Carlesimo, who is currently coaching the squad on an interim basis, could also be considered. He previously coached Portland, Golden State and Seattle with some success and he was recently told by Nets GM Billy King to approach the interim job ”like he’s going to coach the team for the next 10 years.”
Jackson has a history of coming out of retirement only for the ideal coaching job, like he did with the Lakers, so this Brooklyn gig may not pique his interest, but we will have to wait and see what the Nets are willing to offer the 67 year-old and if Jackson will return in search of a 12th NBA title.