Opinions on Jackson's future flying
Player after player say they want Phil Jackson back for another season, but the family tells a different story.
"I think this is it. I think he's done now," Chelsea Jackson, the coach's daughter, told Sports Illustrated.
Jackson's contract expires this offseason, and he's weighing whether to return to try to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a third straight title. He has said that he should have a decision by June 27, with the biggest factor being his health. He has a problem with his knee, among other ailments, that he is getting checked out.
"Obviously his main issue is his health," Lakers center Pau Gasol said. "I think he's concerned about that. He loves the game of basketball as much as anybody and I think he wants to continue to be a part of what we're doing here, but health is the first thing for everybody. If we don't have health, we can't function and the NBA schedule is very, very demanding, and going through three years the way things have gone -- which luckily have been really good -- it's wearing and it's draining.
"So, he's got to take care of his health first and hopefully he'll come back, because obviously he's a big part of our success."
Jackson has spoken to some of his players about the future, the Orange County Register reported, and reserve Luke Walton believes he has an idea of Jackson's plans.
"[General manager] Mitch [Kupchak] is going to have a real busy summer because there are a lot of free agents, including the head coach ... [I got] a little bit [of an inclination of where he's leaning], but I'm going to leave that between Phil and you guys or Phil and Mitch," Walton said. "But I told him as I was leaving that I hope that he's back next year because I love playing for Phil."
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Sasha Vujacic has had an up-and-down relationship with Jackson, getting meaningful minutes, then riding the pine this season. But he was in Game 7 in crunch time and hit two title-clinching free throws.
"Coach was making me better throughout the year," Vujacic said. "Sometimes when you don't play, when you get pulled out or whatever happens, it's that mental training that PJ does with all the players and I'm glad that I kind of passed the test and he gave me that confidence in the most crucial game when not only the game was on the line, but the entire series, the season. He showed me confidence when he puts me in the game like that. That shows a lot."
Ron Artest has had a rocky ride with every team he's played for, but he accepted a lesser role on the Lakers and it paid off with a championship, in which he saved his best for the decisive game.
"With Coach, I know it depends on his health if he's able to move forward," Artest said. "He's been coaching a long time, but I hope he comes back because his whole philosophy is team. I know I can strive under a coach whose philosophy is team and structure and the system."
Some players are taking a proactive approach to Jackson's decision.
"I'm going to put the pressure on him," said Andrew Bynum, who has his own health challenge with the impending knee surgery. "We all want PJ to come back, every last one of us, so hopefully he makes the right decision and decides to get another ring."
ESPNLosAngeles.com Lakers writer Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.