Phil Jackson signs deal for his "last stand"

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Thumbnail image for pjackson_finals.jpgIt’s now official — Phil Jackson will be back with the Lakers next season.

He will be back to go after his fourth three-peat as a coach. Which is insane. He will be back for what he called his “last stand.” As if the Lakers needed more motivation.

Late Monday Jackson formally signed his new deal with the Lakers, according to Ramona Shelburne with This was a deal that some questioned if he would take as the season wore on, one he himself had doubts about signing days after the season ended. In the end, the lure of another title was too strong.

What is not yet known is the terms of the deal. With a championship bonus last year, Jackson made close to $14 million, however he admitted that he was going to need to take a pay cut to stay on.

The Lakers coaching staff will remain the same. Heir-apparent Brian Shaw will be the lead assistant with Frank Hamblen and Jim Cleamons also. Chuck Person, who has been the shooting coach for the team, has been added as an assistant coach as well.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.