Sources: 'Strong' possibility Jackson would accept Lakers offer


Sources: 'Strong' possibility Jackson would accept Lakers offer

There is a scenario in which former Lakers coach Phil Jackson would consider returning for a third stint with the team, sources said late Friday, but it will require executive VP Jim Buss once again relinquishing the organizational reins and this time handing them to Jackson, rather than back to GM Mitch Kupchak.One source described the possibility of Jackson returning, should a suitable offer be made, as strong.The Lakers are in need of a new head coach after firing Mike Brown Friday morning, the timing of which, if not the decision itself, completely blindsided Brown, a source said. The abruptness and timing of the decision five games into Browns first full season was credited by one source to Lakers legend and former part-owner Magic Johnson finally winning a turf war with the younger Buss and convincing Lakers patriarch, Jerry Buss, that Brown must go. Johnson, the source said, would like to see former Laker and current Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw succeed Brown.Johnson, an ESPN and ABC analyst, has been repeatedly critical of Brown and last year announced that Brown would be fired if the Lakers failed to get past the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. The Lakers won the best-of-seven series, 4-3, before losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round, 4-1, but Kupchak dismissed any validity to Johnsons remarks.A source close to Johnson, meanwhile, said talk of him being involved in Browns ouster now was categorically untrue.Jackson, while romantically involved with Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, has long had a strained relationship with her brother Jim. When Jacksons last contract with the team expired following the 2010-11 season, Jim was granted authority over the teams basketball operations by his father, Jerry, and seemed committed to shifting away from the teams methodology under Jackson, including his Triangle offense.That offense almost assuredly would return if Jackson were granted authority andor Shaw, a long-time assistant coach of Jackson during his Lakers tenure, were hired. Sources say there is a scenario in which both Jackson and Shaw would be hired, with Shaw as the head coach mentored by Jackson.Jackson proposed a similar arrangement to the Portland Trail Blazers at one point last summer, sources say, with former assistant Kurt Rambis as his head-coach proteg and Jackson overseeing basketball operations, but the Blazers declined.Former Knicks coach Mike DAntoni, former Blazers coach Nate McMillan and Mike Dunleavy, who has coached both the Lakers and Clippers, are among the Lakers list of candidates, a source said. DAntoni just had knee replacement surgery last week and the recovery time has been projected as six weeks, but a source close to DAntoni said that an accelerated rehabilitation program could potentially cut that time in half.DAntoni, of course, would be reunited with point guard Steve Nash, who became a two-time league MVP with the Phoenix Suns in DAntonis up-tempo system and Nash, a source said, would welcome playing for him again.The challenge in returning to Jacksons Triangle offense is that it would not suit Nash nearly as well as DAntonis pick-and-roll heavy system and it often takes a full season for a team to master it. Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Metta World Peace and Devin Ebanks are the only hold-overs from the last time Jackson coached the team, and neither Blake nor Peace were particularly effective in it.

NBA poised for season unlike it's ever seen

NBA poised for season unlike it's ever seen

The story lines are as long as a Stephen Curry 3-pointer.

With a superteam in the West, a megastar in the Midwest, superstars all around the league, its global popularity at an all-time high, more revenue than ever and labor peace looming, this season has the potential to be like no other the league has ever had. Yes, rivaling the Celtics' run in the 1960s, possibly topping Magic-Bird rivalry of the '80s and Michael Jordan's run of the '90s.

LeBron James is holding the title in Cleveland and Kevin Durant has settled in Golden State, so the NBA Finals could be headed for the same destination again next June.

But what a journey it should be getting there.

"I think there is a somewhat an inevitability of this Cleveland-Warriors meeting in the finals again, which can sometimes make you overlook how enjoyable the regular season can be if you love basketball," ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said. "So I think they'll meet in the finals again, but that doesn't make the regular season uninteresting to me."

A summer spending spree created new contenders and enticing questions for a global audience that will begin being answered Tuesday when the new season opens in the places the last one ended.

The record-setting Warriors will be must-see TV again with Durant, the former scoring champ and league MVP, sharing shots with Curry, the current scoring champ and MVP.

James is on a Jordan-like run, looking for a seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals and hoping to build a dynasty where there was once just despair.

There's Dwyane Wade in Chicago and Dwight Howard in Atlanta after both went home.

Derrick Rose left home, traded from the Bulls to the New York Knicks.

Former Commissioner David Stern used to say the NBA was in its golden age.

Under Adam Silver, it may be even shinier.

"There are a lot of charged-up players in this league," Silver said. "There are a lot of teams, young teams in the development cycle, where I think they would even say realistically they're unlikely to win the championship this season, but they're on the road to winning a championship."

He will give James and the Cavaliers their rings before the season opener, and Durant joins Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson in the expensive and explosive Warriors lineup later that night against San Antonio.

Their teams are heavily favored to meet in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year, a rivalry that could turn into something like the Celtics-Lakers, or before that of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

But this is no two-team show.

[POOLE: NBA predictions: Cavs don't make Finals; Westbrook MVP]

"It's tough," Green said. "But at the same time I'm almost certain that it's a goal of (Cleveland's) to get back to try to win a championship. With that being said, there's a lot of great teams in this league. And they're not saying we're going to watch the Cavs and the Warriors in June."

Like Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City being defiant, not devastated by Durant's departure the way the Cavs were when James bolted for Miami in 2010.

Or young stars like Karl-Anthony Towns growing up into the spotlight, now that Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, titans for so long, have grown old and retired. And yet another batch of unmatched international talent, led by No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, an Australian whose debut will be delayed as he recovers from a foot injury.

It's what the league sought to create during the 2011 lockout, when more revenues were shifted from players to teams in hopes the clubs would then distribute them better and chip away at the gulf between the big-market haves and the little-market have-nots.

Money really started pouring in with the extension of the league's national TV contracts, which kicked in this season to the tune of about $2.6 billion annually. The TV deal has sent salaries soaring so much that owners and players are poised to agree to a new labor agreement soon without the type of fight that led to the last one.

The wealth of talent, and the wealth to acquire it, has emboldened teams to spend now where they once may have stood pat.

Durant, Al Horford and many more switched teams during the dizzying days of July free agency, with the Spurs putting Pau Gasol alongside Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge into the frontcourt spot that Duncan for so long had anchored.

A third of the league changed coaches, with clubs like Minnesota (Tom Thibodeau) and Houston (Mike D'Antoni) turning to proven winners to steer them through the rough Western Conference waters.

The Spurs or Clippers could emerge as the toughest test out there for the Warriors. Things look easier for James in the East, where he has emerged as the champion for six straight years. But he never thinks about what happened in the past.

"There are going to be so many more challenges, so many different obstacles that we're going to have to face this year as a ballclub," James said. "We have to be mentally focused, mentally prepared for it all. I think we will, be but it will not be easy and it shouldn't be."

Silver, who should definitely like what he sees, summed up the anticipation:

"I'm looking forward to the season."

In contract year, Iguodala hoping for new deal with Warriors

In contract year, Iguodala hoping for new deal with Warriors

OAKLAND – Andre Iguodala’s game defies convenient categorization. The box score generally doesn’t do it justice, yet box-score stats heavily influence value.

Which puts Iguodala, in the final year of his Warriors contract, in a bit of quandary. The 32-year-old small forward is a key member of the team and would like to receive another contract. How does he suppress the thought of a new deal while simultaneously hoping to get one?

“It’s human to have it in the back of your mind,” Iguodala told on Monday. “But I would never let that get in the way of us winning. That’s just the nature of my game anyway.

“Although I do try to sometimes, tell myself to be selfish when I’m out there, once I’m out there I’m always looking to make the right play. I may think, ‘Shoot, I should’ve shot it,’ but I end up passing it anyway because it’s the right play.”

Iguodala is a highly intelligent but largely intangible force who at his best plays lock-down defense, disrupts opposing offensive schemes, sets up teammates to score and occasionally pitches in with points of his own.

Coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers consistently express high regard for what Iguodala brings, but even they will have to decide whether the budget, beginning in 2017-18, will allow another contract for Iguodala.

It’s one thing for the Warriors to place immense value on Iguodala, the NBA Finals MVP during the team’s 2015 title run, but how would the rest of the league value a 33-year-old who spent three seasons as the team’s Sixth Man?

“They understand it here,” Iguodala said. “But the problem is you need another team, because if you don’t have another team, you can’t leverage. And it’s a business. I don’t care what you’ve done in the past.”

It’s conceivable that the Warriors, in drafting Patrick McCaw, believe they now have someone who eventually will give them much of what Iguodala provides. McCaw, 20, delights in guarding multiple positions while also playing a well-rounded offensive game.

Even Iguodala understands the comparison.

“It’s a little different,” Iguodala said. “As far as IQ, I definitely see it. He’s a very smart player. Very defensive-minded. Offensively, he’s underrated. He’s a great passer."

For now, the veteran is secure. He has a featured role on a team that is favored to win a championship. His contribution to the season will state is case to the Warriors.

“For me,” Iguodala said, “it’s just about playing with good intentions and hoping it works out."