- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Phil Jackson said he hasn't made a decision about his future despite a report earlier he was hoping to return as the Lakers coach next season.
"No decision and no leaning at all. I'm leaning against the wall and that's about it," said Jackson leaning against the brick wall outside the visiting locker room at the Ford Center before the Lakers played the Thunder on Friday.
Jackson said he didn't foresee health or financial concerns that would prevent him from coming back. But he added his return could hinge on how the Lakers perform in the playoffs.
When asked if he wanted to return as the coach next season he said, "Yeah. If we win it's almost imperative to give it another shot but there are a lot of ifs in there. Winning is a really big if. There are four playoffs you have to get through before you can say that we won and we have a chance to do something special and unique again. That's a long shot.
"I think how we make it through the year has a lot to do with it. [Lakers owner] Dr. [Jerry] Buss said that he put some things on the line by re-signing Lamar [Odom] so it's financial. This team has never lost money since he took over the team so that's a big part of it. I pushed him to sign Lamar and we all said we have to have this guy back even if it's going to put this team in jeopardy financially. At a time when it's tough in this league he took the step."
Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com this week he hasn't discussed an extension because he doesn't think Jackson wants to talk about it during the season.
"If I were to go to him right now and said, 'Phil, will you coach next year?' He would say let's wait until the end of the year and see how I feel," Buss said. "So, I don't think it causes any tension, I just have to wait until then before a discussion begins [on a new contract]."
Jackson agreed with Buss, saying, "I think it's the best way to approach it right now. Healthwise I'm fine. I serve at the behest of the Buss family and Jeannie [Buss, Jerry's daughter and Jackson's girlfriend] I serve all the time, but I work with Dr. Buss closely in serving this basketball club as a coach."
Jackson, however, reiterated a contract dispute would not prevent him from returning, even if Buss asked Jackson to take a pay cut next season.
"Pay cuts come in all different forms," said Jackson, joking he might cash out his 401k. "There are some ways around that. I think we could find a way to make that work."
Jackson said there wouldn't be much drama about his coaching future after the season. He plans on making a decision shortly after his routine end-of-season physical.
"I'll do a whole physical checkup at the end of the year and then I'll make a decision," Jackson said. "It's pretty easy. It'll go pretty quick. It'll be a two-day thing and then I'll be back and we'll see what happens."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson thinks he'll be back next season