According to Eric Pincus at Hoopsworld, everything is set for Phil Jackson to return as head coach of the Lakers except for one detail â€” his title.
In his “State of the Lakers” press conference last week, Dr. Buss acknowledged Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Assistant General Manager Jimmy Buss as his key advisors. I am told that Jackson does not mind their roles in personnel decisions, but he requires “there to be a clear line of authority” ensuring that he answers directly and solely to Dr. Buss.
Pincus, the guy covering the Lakers with the most reliable inside information, said that Buss has planned to slowly turn over the reins of his franchise to his son Jimmy, making giving Jackson a title of authority over the younger Buss a potential deal killer. It’s worth a read, plus Pincus throws in a wise opinion at the end (that matches my first thoughts when reading this).
Update: I usually ignore what Peter Vecsey writes in the NY Post because he strikes me as a rumormonger without a filter. Which is what you should expect from the Post. However, his column today backs everything Pincus said but with a more aggressive slant — Vecsey says the real problem is Jimmy Buss.
The way I hear it, Jim Buss basically has been in charge of the Lakers since they got “swept in five games” by the Pistons in last June’s Finals. So much so that he hired Rudy Tomjanovich on his own, without Jeanie’s knowledge or expertise (her job is to oversee all contracts) for $30 million over five years.
Again, I’d say it’s Vecsey, so take what he said with a full shaker of salt. However, in a message board today Pincus said that Vecsey went farther than he did in his story, but Pincus has a relationship with the Lakers to protect that Vecsey does not, freeing the New Yorker to post more details. Check it out for yourself and decide. The greatest strength of the Laker organization over the years has been wise ownership that hired smart basketball people (Sharman, West) to make decisions rather than do that themselves. Moving away from that model would be very unwise.