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Jackson has already talked to team owner Buss

Phil Jackson, who coached the Los Angeles Lakers from 1999-2004 and earned three championship rings in the process, is scheduled to meet with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles later this week.

The meeting could be seen as a step to Jackson possibly returning to coach the Lakers.

However, sources close to Bryant said that he has not heard from Jackson about a possible meeting between the two. The sources said Bryant would not be opposed to such a get-together.

In 2004, Jackson wrote a tell-all book called "The Last Season" about the 2003-04 season in which he characterized Bryant as being difficult to coach. In the book, Jackson wrote that he asked Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak to trade Bryant.

Jackson has already spoken to team owner Jerry Buss and plans to speak with him again soon.

If Buss were to re-hire Jackson, Buss would likely do so only after a new NBA collective bargaining agreement with the players' association is reached. The current CBA expires in July.

The thinking is that if there is some sort of work stoppage this summer that could potentially last for months, the Lakers would not wish to be on the hook to have to pay Jackson during the time he is not actually coaching. Jackson is believed to be seeking an annual contract of around $10 million per season -- well in excess of his previous deal with the Lakers which was for $30 million over five seasons.

Ric Bucher is a senior writer for ESPN the Magazine.