NBA: Phil Jackson shuts door on Bulls, intrigued by Nets
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX — A cagy Phil Jackson said Tuesday he has "no desire at all" to return to Chicago to coach the Bulls, though would "like to have a vodka" with the new owner of the New Jersey Nets.
The Los Angeles Lakers coach addressed two reports by ESPN that the Bulls and Nets have worked through back channels to gauge his interest, saying those channels haven't reached him.
Jackson, who has coached teams to 10 NBA titles, is on the final year of his contract with the Lakers and has said there was "a 90 percent" chance he would either return to the team for an 11th season or would retire.
His comment on the Nets referred to the billionaire new owner of the franchise, Russian Mikhail Prokhorov.
"I'd like to have a, you know, vodka with him at some point," Jackson said. "He seems like a very interesting young man."
When someone pointed out that the Nets won 12 games this season, 45 fewer than his Lakers, Jackson said, "I've never lived in Brooklyn, or Newark, so." He didn't end the sentence.
Pressed to say that it would be the Lakers or nothing next season, the 64-year-old Jackson said, "I have trouble making commitments," a response that drew a big laugh from reporters at the coach's pregame news conference before the Lakers met the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
He added, though, that "the probabilities are great" that he would coach the Lakers if he coaches at all.
Jackson's coaching future is a subplot to the high-stakes competition to lure free agent LeBron James. There is no doubt that Jackson as coach would be a significant lure for the NBA's MVP, especially combined with the big money Prokhorov brings.
But it also could be a bit of posturing for Jackson, who has directed the Lakers to four NBA titles and has a 1,094-453 regular-season record with the franchise. Owner Jerry Buss reportedly has indicated he would want Jackson to take a pay cut from the $12 million he earns this season.
Despite his "vodka" comment, Jackson said coaching elsewhere would be highly improbable.
"I've not entertaining any conversation about that right now," he said. "I just can't imagine it, not to say it's beyond your wildest dreams and never would happen. I mean, the strangest things do. I mean it's just not part of my conscious thought right now. We're down this path," indicating the current playoff series against Phoenix.
"I'll leave it open and just say as of now I have not made up my mind about coaching or not coaching next year," he said. "That's all I can say really truthfully."
Jackson was with the Nets for the final two years of his playing career, which ended in 1980. He was with the New York Knicks his first 12 seasons as a player and was on the team that won the NBA title in 1973.