With Phil Jackson’s Disciples Returning to Lakers, Will He Return to Team?

The stars are aligning for Phil Jackson's formal return to the Los Angeles Lakers.

No, the Zen Master isn't suddenly so enamored with L.A.'s acquisitions of Nick Young and Wesley Johnson that he's clamoring to retake his spot on the bench. But thanks to some intriguing coaching moves—combined with what we've learned about Jackson's recent involvement in the front office—it looks like the Lakers are doing everything they can to create an appealing environment for Jackson.


Round Three with Rambis

The latest news comes first. Former Jackson assistant and Lakers lifer Kurt Rambis is back in the fold.

Rambis coached under Jackson for the better part of a decade, serving from 2001 until 2004, and then as a lead assistant from 2005 to 2009. As Jackson's de facto defensive coordinator, Rambis proved his worth and endeared himself to a number of powerful Lakers figures. When he left to assume the head coaching position with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009, both Jackson and Kobe Bryant lamented his departure.

For anyone looking to explain the recent Rambis addition in a way that doesn't somehow relate to Phil Jackson, it's possible to argue that Mike D'Antoni's staff lacked a capable defensive-minded assistant and Rambis was a logical fit.

That makes sense.

But there are lots of available coaches who would have been willing to help D'Antoni shore up the Lakers' woeful defense. L.A. could have chosen almost anyone. Instead it went with the guy who has a stronger connection to Jackson than anybody not named Jim Cleamons or Tex Winter.

Ignoring the Jackson angle of the Rambis signing is like reviewing Pacific Rim without talking about giant robots; it's kind of the most important part.

And the addition of Rambis is just the latest sign pointing to a bigger role for Jackson.


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