Phil Jackson does not have a contract to coach the Lakers next year. That fact has led to a lot of speculation and talk — from a struggle for control within the Buss family to Jackson leaving Los Angeles to coach the Knicks next year.
Jerry Buss would like to remind you that last year at this time Jackson did not have a contract. Same with the year before that, Buss said in an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com.
We really want to get through the year and then take a deep breath and see where we are. If I were to go to Phil right now and say, “Will you coach next year?” he’d say, “Well, let’s wait until the end of the year and see how I feel.” So, I don’t think it causes any tension. I know I have to wait until season’s end before a discussion begins.
Jackson, 64, has had both hips replaced and a couple years ago was in considerable pain dealing with the travel and grind of an NBA season. However this year he appears to be moving well, be in good spirits, and girlfriend Jeannie Buss says he physically feels as good as he has in years.
Here’s the thing — winning titles drives Jackson. Winning drives Buss (read what he says in that interview about poker). Two men who may not have a lot else in common (save a love of Jeannie) are bound by winning. Right now they need each other two do it. When they part ways, it will be because that chance to win now has ended and one party (or both) decides to move on. Until then, don’t expect any changes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.
The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.
I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.
That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.
But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.
On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.
To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.
The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.
It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).
Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.
But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.
So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.
But at least he has that opportunity.
Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.
Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.