Just to be clear, Phil Jackson is not coming back

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Phil Jackson played it smart.

If he didn’t make another clear statement that this would be his last season coaching, he was going to be asked at every playoff press conference if he was returning next season.

Now he’ll only be asked it every other press conference. Becuase when he sat down with a handful of regular Lakers beat reporters Thursday night, Jackson made it clear he was not coming back for another season, writes Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times.

He has always hated the traveling, the uncomfortable beds in unfamiliar hotels, the bad food at late hours, the weather changes. All of it.

“It’s a really unhealthy lifestyle,” he said. “I think that’s a good reason to get out of the game in some ways too.”

He recounted with great sincerity how hard it was to return this season, period.

“I thought I was going to retire last July,” he said, remembering a conversation with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “I told Mitch, ‘I don’t think I’m going to come back. You better plan on something besides this.’ ”

But the urge to chase a “three-peat,” not to mention phone calls from Bryant and Derek Fisher, drove him to return for what he called “the last stand.”

As for the next Lakers coach, current top assistant Brian Shaw makes the most sense because the Lakers are a triangle team built for that offense, and shaking up the system of a contending team makes little sense.

But team owner Jerry Buss has never been huge fans of the slow-it-down triangle offense, he would prefer to return to the days of Showtime, so the idea of them bringing in somebody to change the system now is not out of the question.