What Phil Jackson’s Renewed Ties Mean for LA Lakers’ Future

Phil Jackson is back with the Los Angeles Lakers, and although his role appears to be a minor one, his mere presence in the organization is going to have far-reaching effects in the locker room and, most of all, in the media.

According to Arash Markazi of ESPN, the Zen Master is something of a consultant for the club, though his title and job description are largely unknown.

It bears mentioning as a preliminary matter that although all parties involved are claiming there are no interpersonal issues between Jackson, owner Jim Buss or general manager Mitch Kupchak, there's still reason to believe that there could be some tension after everything that happened last November.

Jackson seemed to be nicely positioned for the Lakers' head coaching job after Mike Brown's firing, but after a late-night phone call from Kupchak, he learned that the team had opted to hire Mike D'Antoni instead. Jackson reportedly laughed at the team's decision, and many speculated that Buss, with whom Jackson has a self-described "casual" relationship, didn't want to give off the appearance that the team had gone running back to its last successful coach.

Given the rift between Jackson's girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, and her brother, it's easy to envision a divided Lakers camp that can't get along often enough to focus on the job at hand. But assuming there's a modicum of unity among the team's decision-makers, Jackson figures to have a lot of influence going forward.

And not all of it bodes well in the short term.


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For starters, Jackson's mere presence undermines D'Antoni's authority. The Lakers' current coach is—or at least should be—on shaky ground after a disjointed, disappointing first season last year.

The team never arrived at a consistent style that fit the players on the roster. That's ironic, considering Kupchak cited D'Anto...

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