Jackson unsure if Lakers will pay him
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Phil Jackson shed some light on his uncertain coaching future but still left the picture somewhat cloudy, saying whether the Los Angeles Lakers repeat as NBA champions will be a big factor -- but not the only one -- in determining whether he returns.
Speaking prior to the Lakers-Nets game, and with word out that Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are making progress on signing three-year contract extensions, Jackson said the long-term locking up of those two stars would have no bearing on his decision.
"They have a great chance to be a very good team for a while, and Drew [Andrew Bynum] is locked in, and that's a great start from the standpoint of putting a great roster together that has some commonality, that has played together, it'll give them a real good basis. They have a couple other things that they have to get done and then I'm going to feel good about it."
Jackson is the NBA's highest-paid coach, making $12 million annually, and has won more champioinships (10) than any head coach in league history.
His Lakers own the NBA's best record at 21-4 after a 103-84 victory Saturday night over the Nets (2-26), Los Angeles' third stop on a four-game Eastern road swing that ends Sunday night at Detroit.
The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday the Lakers and Gasol (who earns $16.5 million this season and $17.8 million next season) have agreed in principle to a three-year extension that will carry Gasol through the 2013-14 season. The same report indicated progress was being made in talks with Bryant, who has the right to opt out of his contract at the conclusion of this season and become an unrestricted free agent. If Bryant does not opt out, he will make nearly $25 million in 2010-11, and the extension could kick in the following season and be worth in the area of $90 million.
Jackson said he will not decide on his future until June or July, and he did acknowledge that repeating as champions would improve his prospects of staying.
"Oh sure, it really does. But it's not a definite that I would continue even if we would be," Jackson said. "If things didn't go well and we didn't win, that would obviously be something that would be, you know, you think maybe it's time for someone else to look at this job and carry this team forward from there.
"That's possibly not going to happen that way, but just winning it outright doesn't mean it's a natural to come back and coach this team. I just don't see that as a natural thing. A lot of it has to do with the direction the league is going, the direction the ownership wants to go in. People are cutting costs all around the league, and coaches are obviously going to take a cut too, so they may not even want to hire me. They may want to save some money."
Jackson was asked if he would he accept a pay cut.
"Why would you?" he replied, ending his pregame interview.
Chris Sheridan is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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