Phil Jackson is a man with strong convictions.
That comes through in a conversation with Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated. One where Jackson says most of the league just mimics each other rather than run their own system. That’s why he likes Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, they play their way.
Jackson also reiterated what he had said before — he’s not going to coach again. The Lakers situation at the start of the season was different.
I’m not coaching. I told Mitch [Kupchak, Lakers GM] that back in October. So when we sat down in November [to talk about taking over after Mike Brown was fired], he brought that up and I said, “Well, this isn’t about moving or going somewhere else and learning new players. It’s different. So I’m ready to think about coming back, but I still have to think about it.”
But I do hold out the idea that there’s still influence in the game I could have. Red Auerbach, Pete Newell, Wayne Embry, guys like that have had … a number of people have had considerable influence and haven’t been coaches per se.
Jackson goes on to say he’d consider an NBA job — “Vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel” — but he’s not going back to the sidelines and he’s not just taking a GM job.
And of course, the conversation moved around to the dysfunction of the Lakers and how they use Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
Jackson: They just don’t put the ball in the post. They’ll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there’s no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe will go in there. But Dwight [Howard] just doesn’t get any touches. They’ve basically eliminated his assets.
SI: But wouldn’t his assets be rolling off the screen-roll, with either [Steve] Nash or Kobe?
Jackson: You want the ball 10 feet away from the basket. Throw it into the post, make them double-team and have everybody around to make shots. That’s what Shaq could do. That’s where you have the Robert Horrys, the Derek Fishers and the Rick Foxes sitting out there getting wide-open jumpers.
Just some numbers from Synergy Sports. Howard has had 372 post touches this season, which accounts for 45.3 percent of his shots. On those, he is shooting 45.4 percent, or 0.75 points per possession. He has gotten the ball back as the roll man in a pick-and-roll 94 times and is shooting 75.9 percent, scoring 1.22 points per possession.
And the current Lakers don’t have the Horry’s, Fishers, shooters like that.
To give you some context, two seasons ago (2010-11, before the Orlando leaving mess) Howard got 59 percent of his offense in the post, shot 50.6 percent and 0.93 points per possession. So, he’s more efficient in the post when healthy. That season he got 6.8 percent of his offense as the roll man but shot 81.7 percent and scored 1.43 points per possession.
All of which is to say, Howard and the Mike D’Antoni offense can find a compromise and a middle ground that works for them, they just both have to give a little more. And get healthy. And act like adults.
The real problem for the Lakers is what they are going through now are training camp problems, but Howard wasn’t healthy for camp and they had a different coach with a radically different system then. They need time they didn’t have.