When it was reported that the Los Angeles Lakers were relying on 11-time champion Phil Jackon for their head coach job search, it wasn’t a shocker given the franchise’s history with The Zen Master. Despite Jackson’s checkered record as a front office executive and history of disdain for LeBron James, it was still difficult to assume that the Lakers would want to trade their superstar.
But as the saying goes, you never really know in LA LA Land.
Jackson reportedly is hell-bent on Russell Westbrook.
According to Los Angeles Times veteran columnist Bill Plaschke (who also recently sat down with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss for a one-on-one interview), Jackson reportedly prefers holding on to Westbrook instead of James.
“I’ve heard that Phil would like LeBron traded. I’ve just heard that but I’ve got nothing to back that up. No on-the-record stuff to back that up. I do know that Phil would like to keep Westbrook and try to make that work with him,” Plaschke said during an appearance on Doug Gottlieb’s radio show.
If you read between the lines here, the phrase “I’ve got nothing to back that up” sounds head-scratching. However, given Jackson’s feelings toward James, there’s undoubtedly a reason this report could make sense.
So take this however you want, but there have been no signs or reports about the Lakers wanting to part ways with their franchise superstar, aside from this Plaschke report.
James wants to stay in LA.
Despite all the chaos and drama in the past few months, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently reported James has no desire to leave Los Angeles. The four-time champion believes that the team can still make a few tweaks to their roster and get healthy to turn things around. Windhorst also mentioned that James is invested in the Lakers and wants to stay in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.
It’s also worth noting that Buss recently went on record and told Plaschke himself that the Lakers front office doesn’t intend on trading James or even his co-star Anthony Davis anytime soon. According to Buss, her main goal is for James to feel confident with the Lakers organization and make him happy by building another championship contender around him.
“There’s no reason for me to think we can’t win with them [James and Anthony Davis],” Buss said. “Something that I learned from Phil Jackson is that there’s always a path to success. Sometimes it might be a little bit harder than other times but you have to see the ability.”