Report: Pursuit of Phil down to Lakers, Knicks
The Cleveland Cavaliers are out of the chase for the services of Phil Jackson, just days after having preliminary talks with the nine-time NBA champion coach, according to the New York Post.
According to The Los Angeles Times, some upper-crust season-ticket holders sent a petition to Lakers headquarters last week imploring the team to rehire Jackson.
"We the undersigned season ticket holders in the premium seat location on the floor urge you to do all you can to bring Phil Jackson back to coach the team next year," the petition read, according to the newspaper.
The Times reported the petition was prepared by front-row season-ticket holders, who pay $2,000 a ticket. Signatures representing 52 of the 139 front-row holders were on the petition, but organizers declined to provide a list of names for the newspaper.
While the Lakers continue to wait for a legitimate sign that Jackson is interested in again coaching the Lakers, speaking engagements -- his fees approach $100,000, plus expenses, The Times reports -- have kept him busy.
"I'm not even sure that he does want to coach." Charley Rosen, an author and longtime friend of Jackson's, told The Times. "He didn't pay that much attention to the season, although he did watch the Lakers. The playoffs get his chops way up. ... I'm sure his interest is peaking and will peak for the next two months."
However, Knicks legend and former Jackson teammate Earl Monroe believes this decision has already been made.
"I've talked to a couple of people pretty close to Phil," Monroe told the Post on Sunday. "It's a good shot to try to get him. In terms of his own legacy, I know he should go to someplace where there's a guy they can build around and become a winning team. I don't see with the Knicks they have that type of team in place at this point."
Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times, citing a league source, reported Tuesday that the Lakers have made initial contact with former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders.
Jackson met with Knicks president of basketball operations Isiah Thomas on April 25 and a second is meeting is expected, the paper reported.
"I'd like to see [Jackson] go out and coach a team that's competitive," Monroe told the Post. "The team they [the Knicks] have is not as competitive. They need a couple more components."
Jackson was scheduled to meet with Lakers star Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, according to ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.
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.
If the Cavaliers can't get Jackson, the next most likely candidate would be Saunders, who was fired earlier this season in Minnesota. Saunders and Pistons coach Larry Brown are also candidates for the Lakers if their Jackson pursuit fails.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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