Phil Jackson made it official today — he is back for one more year as head coach of the Lakers.
“Count me in,” said Jackson in the official statement on Lakers.com. “After a couple weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together a team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season. It’ll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one.”
This explains why Brian Shaw pulled his name out of the running for the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching job a couple days ago, leaving the spot for Byron Scott to jump in. Shaw will be the logical successor for Jackson.
Jackson had said that his health would determine if he came back for one more year and underwent a battery of tests (even missing the Lakers championship parade to be at the doctor’s office). Rumors from those around the Lakers were that while he may need off-season knee surgery to clear up an ongoing issue, he had a generally clean bill of health.
The other issue was pay. Jackson had admitted during the finals that owner Jerry Buss told him there would be a pay cut from the $14 million he made last season ($12 million base salary plus a $2 million bonus for winning the title). No numbers leaked yet on what he will make this go around.
Jackson will have the chance for a fourth three-peat of his career — two with Chicago and that Jordan guy, and the first one with the Kobe/Shaq Lakers. Despite all the shifting of power around the NBA, there are only a handful of teams that realistically could beat a healthy Lakers squad.
The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.
He missed more than five weeks.
Maybe he should have sat even longer.
Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:
Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.
Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.
Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.
There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.
What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?
The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.
The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.
Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.
With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.
He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.
The Lakers have had a rough season.
Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.
The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.
The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.
Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.
He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.
Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.