While it may not seem like too big a deal, Phil Jackson’s move to become president of the New York Knicks, helps the Los Angeles Lakers out immensely. While he hasn’t coached in the last couple of years, or had any official position with the team, other than being Jeanie Buss’s boyfriend, he has been a giant shadow hovering over the Lakers franchise. The man had won 11 championship rings as a head coach, five of them with the Lakers, which incredibly is one more than Pat Riley, who seems to be more associated with the Lakers than Jackson is (which tells you how ridiculous it is how many championships Jackson has won). The internal power struggle with the Lakers in the last days of the Jerry Buss, and now have seemed to undermine the future of the franchise.
Jim Buss didn’t want Phil Jackson around, he wanted to be the one to turn the Lakers around, the top guy around. Obviously, this is foolhardy, as Jim Buss will never win a popularity contest with Phil Jackson, but Jackson wasn’t going to take these Lakers of the last couple years any farther than they have gone. Yes, he is a great head coach, but having Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol all in their primes seem to solve many issues other coaches have. The league, in general, seems to have phased out Jackson’s style of play, as his coaching tree is rootless in the league today, with the exception of Brian Shaw. I doubt Lakers management wanted to pay Jackson an absorbent amount of money to pontificate the Triangle to a bottom tier team.
Kobe Bryant realized later on in his career how important Phil Jackson was to him, and that still holds to this day. He believes Jackson could come back and help lead the Lakers back to the promise land. That very cleary wouldn’t have happened, but now that players and fans alike know that Jackson is with the Knicks, they can stop day dreaming.
The Lakers, as stated here before are not in the best cap situation, due to shoddy contracts (hello, Kobe Bryant), but they have the resources to withstand luxury tax hell, due to their ludicrous TV deal. They are the Lakers, which will seemingly hold some sort of intrigue to future star players, and once Bryant is off the books, they will truly be able to move on financially, and to a new era. While Bryant is around, the Lakers can’t truly move on to their next great era, something that he probably knows to be true, but due to his enormous pride would never admit.
The Lakers, much like the Celtics, are hovering around, record wise, to where they should be among the top five or six picks. The Lakers haven’t been in that situation in quite awhile, so adding a good player that high in the draft would prove very valuable to them going forward. If only Jeanie Buss could get Jim Buss out of the way, the Lakers could climb back into contention much sooner than thought.