LOS ANGELES — For those trying to spin the “Phil Jackson will leave the Knicks to come to the Lakers” drama: Jackson was at Staples Center Sunday night when the Lakers took on the Knicks, sitting in a regular seat (not a suite), but the Lakers chose not to show him on the scoreboard and test the reaction of the crowd. The Lakers may have lost six in a row, but the organization — and most fans — feel it is on the right track now and Jackson would be a left turn in that process.
That doesn’t mean Laker coach Luke Walton doesn’t lean on his mentor Jackson now and again.
“I’ve definitely reached out to him about different things,” Walton said before the Lakers took the floor, eventually falling to the Knicks 118-112. What things? “On how to coach (Walton said that jokingly). When I call him now, instead of random check-ins, it’s about specific things. I try to get his opinion on how he thinks I should handle something, on getting better at certain things, just picking his brain. So far he’s batting 100 percent.”
Jackson may come off as a bit out of touch and old at times now, but the man still coached 11 teams to titles, he has experience in how to handle players. He’s a great source of knowledge, for those that can take what he advises and adapt it to their way of working. Walton seems able to do just that.
Walton and Jackson understandably have a close relationship, they were together both as player/coach and as coaches on the same staff. After the game, Jackson waited in the Lakers’ coaches office off the locker room to talk to Walton. The two should work well together.
That doesn’t mean the Lakers should bring in Jackson as GM.