Image creation courtesy of theScore's Sean Keay

Image creation courtesy of theScore’s Sean Keay

I don’t how many people envisioned the first two weeks of the Raptors’ off-season being dominated by Phil Jackson to Toronto rumours, but nevertheless, here we are.

If you remember from when the Jackson/Raptors rumours began to heat up on Friday after the Tim Leiweke hire, Toronto’s biggest potential competitor in the chase for The Zen Master was thought to be Seattle if Chris Hansen could successfully move the Kings there. However, with the committee of NBA owners recommending on Monday that the relocation of the Kings be blocked, and therefore recommending that Seattle stays without an NBA team for now, Toronto’s biggest challenger appears to have taken a pretty crushing early blow, and I wasn’t the only one thinking that way

Well those rumours did in fact pick up later on Monday night, as Marc Stein, who originally broke the news of the Raptors’ interest in Jackson, reported for ESPN. Citing sources close to the situation, Stein writes that the Raptors, “emboldened by the news that the Sacramento Kings apparently won’t be moving to Seattle, have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson to be their new team president” and that the Raps “regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.”

In perhaps the first report actually linking these rumours to a timeline, Stein also adds that “sources say that the Raptors will be pursuing Jackson aggressively this week, believing that they rank as Jackson’s most attractive current option for a new career in management now that he can reunite with Leiweke.”

Again, Leiweke built a reputation as a sports business mogul in Los Angeles (with ties to the Lakers) and calls both Jackson and Jeanie Buss friends, while also just happening to be the guy that convinced David Beckham to move to the MLS, so while I may not be ready to believe that this is really going to happen, I don’t think it’s as much of a long shot as other pundits do.

In addition, Leiweke mentioned on Friday that Jackson called him upon hearing the rumours of Tim being hired by MLSE in Toronto, and that the phone call included Phil telling him “what a great city it is.”

Heck, if you want to go even further, we can look at the fact that Jackson has a history with Raptors’ Director of Sports Science Alex McKechnie, who worked for the Lakers while Phil was collecting more rings in L.A., and that Phil was just tweeting about McKechnie last week…

The remaining question mark in all of this remains the job status of current President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo, who has only a team option for 2013-14 remaining on his contract. A week ago, Colangelo noted that he expected it to be resolved in two-to-three weeks, but given the new circumstances, is B.C. now just a default backup plan in the event that the Raptors can’t land Jackson? Is he in the plans at all? Would the team consider retaining him as the GM while Jackson oversees him as President?

In addition, would Dwane Casey have a chance to coach the final year of his contract next season if Jackson really is brought in or if Colangelo is replaced in general?

These are all obvious questions that remain unanswered as the Raptors and Jackson continue to be linked in reports, but one way or another, Leiweke and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment seem to be making some serious waves in the NBA right now.

If you ask me, I’m still not convinced Jackson ends up in Toronto and none of us can be certain that he’ll be a successful NBA executive (which is why it might make more sense for him to be the face of a team as President while someone with more GM experience handles the day-to-day operations), but am I still unreasonably excited about the possibility of The Zen Master in Toronto?


If MLSE believes they have a real chance here, a Brink’s truck should be dispatched to Montana without delay.