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Phil Jackson helped hire Frank Vogel. Now, he’s helping the Los Angeles Lakers clean up the mess.

Woj and Stein revealed the Zen Master has been pulling the strings from behind the curtain.
Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss

Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss

Phil Jackson’s formal ties with the Los Angeles Lakers ended after the '10/'11 NBA season — his last year as head coach. After his executive stint with the New York Knicks ended in 2017, we heard little of the Zen Master. As it turns out, Jackson has been operating behind the scenes and even played a crucial role in turning the team into a championship contender by recommending Frank Vogel.

Life goes by so quickly. Vogel became the most beloved coach in Los Angeles when he guided the Lakers to a title in 2020. But just two years later, after a disappointing '21/'22 NBA season, Vogel was the scapegoat. Now he’s out of Tinseltown, and Jackson, once again, is back to help ex-partner Jeanie Buss search for a replacement.

Search committee

According to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Jackson is aiding Buss and the Lakers front office in searching for a new head coach. Jackson and crew are not rushing things, perhaps absorbing lessons from the distant past that they had to learn the hard way.

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This is very much a committee in L.A. putting together this coaching search. And one person who is certainly significantly involved in this process is Phil Jackson. He’s got a voice in this. He did last time when they hired Frank Vogel. He and Kurt Rambis. He had been somebody they had considered with the Knicks before hiring Derek Fisher in New York... They’re moving deliberately. They’re not doing seven or eight or nine candidates all at once. They’re kind of going down a list and taking their time with it. I think that process is going to take a bit,” Woj said.

The candidates (according to the grapevine)

The grapevine has suggested several prospects for the head coaching job. Some of them include Juwan Howard, an NBA veteran, and LeBron James’ former teammate who has found success in coaching college ball. His ties with James make him the frontrunner among all candidates. James is known for his insistence on carving his way by any means. And so a coach whom he gets along with very well is very much appreciated.

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, too, has been in such rumors. Analysts believe after a series of underperforming seasons in Utah, Snyder may be on the way out. Mark Jackson has also entered the rumor mill, but he’s been closely linked to the Sacramento Kings over the past few days.

Jackson himself has been included in the list though there’s no clear indication that the 76-year-old wants to coach again. Besides, Jackson’s beef with James and his associates would make it difficult (if not interesting) for the front office to push for the Zen Master.

And let's not forget Nick Nurse rumors have been put out there, but Masai Ujiri quickly shot those down.

Whatever the case may be, it will be an exciting summer for Buss, Jackson, and Rob Pelinka. Let us keep in mind that James will be in the last year of his contract in the 2022-23 NBA season. The Lakers think thank can't afford to mess this up. 

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