Phil Jackson says he's likely to coach Lakers next year

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UPDATE: 8:18 pm: In his pregame talk with the media, Phil Jackson sounded a little less certain, and a little more like this was all tied to winning another title. From the AP story:

Lakers coach Phil Jackson says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll return for another season on the Los Angeles bench but he might be compelled to come back if his team wins another championship.

Jackson told reporters before the Lakers’ game Friday night in Oklahoma City that “if we win, it’s almost imperative that I give it another shot.”

This is a little motivation and negotiation from Jackson. He wants to come back but: 1) Only a fool would say they are certain to do something before they enter negotiations on a contract, giving the other side leverage, and Jackson is no fool; 2) He wants to motivate his team with the “my fate is in your hands” thing. These comments do not change anything. The general feeling among people with and around the Lakers is Jackson is strongly leaning toward returning, but he wants to get through the playoffs and talk to his doctor before he and Buss sit down. That said, baring something unexpected, Jackson will return next year to LA.

3:40 pm: This news is not a surprise, everyone around the Lakers expected it — Phil Jackson was not going to walk away from the Lakers coaching gig, unless he couldn’t walk.

Jackson says he wants to come back and coach the Lakers again next year. Scott Howard-Cooper got the scoop at NBA.com.

Asked if he thinks he will be back with a new deal in 2010-11, Jackson said without hesitation: “Yeah.”

“The wear and tear of a season, I think, affects everybody, the travel and whatever else you have to do for an extended time,” he said at the Ford Center after a Lakers shoot around in preparation for the game against the Thunder later Friday. “But, all that being said, I’m as mobile as I’ve ever been in the last three years. That helps. I’m dealing with less arthritic elements that are painful things going on as you age. But there are still considerations as to the duration that I will coach, simply because I have to stay attuned to that.

“I look at something that happened like George Karl [the Nuggets coach who has been spending time away from the team while undergoing cancer treatment] and I just think it’s a shame. You can’t predict or project that as a possible situation, but he’s going to miss part of the season and it’s going to affect his team. I wouldn’t want to put a franchise in that position when there’s young healthy guys that can do the job.”

Jerry Buss will pay to bring him back — Jackson provides return on investment. Jackson may be the only coach that can sell tickets. The Lakers win under him, and the fan base considers Jackson a key part of the success. Buss has always been willing to pay to win.

A couple years ago, with one hip replacement surgery done and another one scheduled, it was clear just watching Jackson move around he was in pain. The NBA season is a grind on coaches, too — stress, lack of sleep, travel, having to deal with the media, not to mention owners. Any sane person would have done what Jackson did and considered retirement.

But the lure of more rings is strong — and this is a Lakers team still capable of getting more. Now he seems to be moving better, his spirits seem good. He seems to be enjoying the moment. Sure, $12 million doesn’t hurt, but it takes more than money to motivate Jackson.

He still savors the intellectual challenge of molding a team, of pushing the buttons and the thrill ride of the playoffs. The championship window for this Lakers team remains wide open for a few more years. There have been recent hints Jackson wanted to return, like him saying a lot of nice things about Jerry Buss lately.

Now we know for sure.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.