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


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

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.

Alvin Gentry on refs after controversial James Harden foul: “You can’t guess on plays”

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Alvin Gentry was heated after the New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, all thanks to a late foul on James Harden. Oh boy.

Gentry was given a technical foul after speaking with officials with 5:39 to go in the fourth quarter in a tight matchup between the two Western Conference playoff teams. The Pelicans coach was heated about a foul called on Jrue Holiday after Harden swung through the defender’s area to get free throws on a 3-point attempt.

That didn’t sit right with Gentry, who went after referee David Guthrie. After complaining for some time, Gentry got a handle on himself and went back to his seat on the bench. That’s when he was called for a technical foul.

Here’s the play in question, and Gentry’s response after the game:

Gentry does have a general point, and sounds like just about any non-Houston fan you overhear at games or in bars regarding Harden’s wacky inflatable flailing arm tube man style. Nevermind his driving — which consistently gets players to legitimately hack away at his arms — the question on the play in New Orleans is whether the defender has a right to that space, and whether Holiday made a move.

Pelicans broadcaster David Wesley pointed out that if a defender is in his own defensive space and not moving, it shouldn’t be a foul if the offensive player jams his way into the defender’s arms. That’s part of why the idea of verticality works for modern NBA big men defending the rim.

Offensive players are getting more astute at drawing contact, then finding a way to immediately get fouled after the contact. It’s something that will need to be addressed by the NBA in coming seasons, as there are quite a few instances of contact specifically being drawn by an offender by moving into the defender’s space and drawing contact with their arms.

However, on the play in question, if you rewind it enough times you can barely see Holiday’s arm and elbow flex reactively before Harden moves the ball up. Thus, in the purview of instant replay, it was probably a foul.

Here it is in super slo-mo:

Gentry is likely to get a nice big fine as others have this season for criticizing officials. It seems that even after the All-Star Break meeting to sort out some issues between the NBPA and NBRA not everyone is happy.

Expect a bigger overhaul and more announcements regarding NBA refereeing in the offseason.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue sits out second half Saturday with illness

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CHICAGO (AP) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue remained in the locker room to start the second half of their game against the Chicago Bulls because of an illness.

Lue was on the sideline as the Cavaliers used a strong second quarter to build a 17-point halftime lead. He did not come out for the start of the third Saturday night, and he did not return to the game.

Lue has missed one other game this season due to illness. He is expected back on Monday when the Cavs host the struggling Bucks.

The Cavaliers went on to get the win over the Bulls Saturday, 114-109.

Grizzlies snap 19-game skid with 101-94 win vs Nuggets

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dillon Brooks scored 24 points, Tyreke Evans added 20 and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 19-game losing streak with a 101-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Wayne Selden scored 16 points for Memphis by hitting 6 of 7 shots, including 4 of 5 from outside the arc. Marc Gasol added 14 points as Memphis won for the first time since Jan. 29.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamal Murray finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Denver shot just 37 percent overall and 27 percent from 3-point range.

Denver entered the night in ninth place in the Western Conference, a game out of the playoff race. Denver played without leading scorer Gary Harris, who is expected to miss the next few games with a right knee sprain suffered against Detroit on Thursday.

The Nuggets struggled through a miserable first half of shooting, connecting on 22 percent in the first quarter. Memphis stretched its lead to 21 early in the second quarter before Denver cut it to 53-48 at halftime.

Brooks hit four 3-pointers to start the second half and keep Memphis ahead.

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LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.

San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.

The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.

San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.

Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.

Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.

Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.

The Spurs responded behind veteran reserves Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. San Antonio went on a 16-4 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 29-26 lead.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points for Minnesota and Teague had 16.