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.

Comments (32)

  1. He’s not coming to Toronto. You think he’s moving 3500ish km for this job? Steve Nash who IS CANADIAN didn’t come so a guy with no Canadian roots won’t have any desire to come here. He doesn’t feel the need to prove himself just look at the cave job he turned down

    • Also i meant Cavs not cave

      • @Aaron – let me get this logic you state, straight!
        Phil won’t come to this job because he is NOT Canadian and being such a high regraded person in the NBA circle, taking a Canadian job is very much beneath him…then you go on to compare Cleveland to Toronto as the same type of destinations and if he doesn’t want Cleveland, he surely won’t want Toronto…am I correct!??!
        T.O just surpassed Chicago in population, it is the fastest growing city in North America – but the fact you state that the job is Canadian and that is the ultimate decision maker for Jackson is purely DUMB!. Go read about “Big Business” in TODAY’S market – then come back and answer this question once you have a bit of education and knowledge behind you.
        You are either too young to understand big business or you have little to knowledge about high finance and the glorified positions that come with it.
        I’m not saying PJ is coming here – but I am saying if he doesn’t it surely isn’t because of the stupid points you make! And as a proud Canadian of many generations (having my native status) if ever we were face to face and you made such an ignorant comment about Canadians, I would have punched your teeth to back of your fuckin’ mouth!…becareful

        • I didn’t know Don Cherry watched Basketball?

        • Well said, except for the last part – Aaron could be a kid. No need to one-punch him. Given his other options, I think Toronto is easily the best one with exception to maybe the Suns. Having grown up in Toronto, I think a lot of Canadians underestimate their own city. Perhaps it’s because they haven’t traveled much? I’ve been all over the States and I’m working in Detroit now. Trust me, with exception to NYC, Miami, LA, and Seattle there aren’t many better cities than Toronto if you’re a millionaire.

          • Toronto might be a big market city in North America but turn on any of the sports channels or listen to sports radio. How much time do they spend covering the NBA!?!?! Toronto is and will always be a hockey first city. When you’re in the states….how often do you hear about the Raptors!?!?! If that tragedy in Boston didn’t happen then most of America would never have seen our team play this year. Even worse was that the game was a tragedy as ATL didn’t care about the game and the Raptors ran over them with almost no resistance. So that didn’t help things….

            Turn on ESPN and they’re talking about the NFL draft and NBA playoffs with maybe a very small amount to Hockey. Toronto is a GREAT city, but it’s still not attractive to NBA players or even executives. They don’t get the same exposure as they do in the states. NBA is big business in America, not so much here.

          • A deep playoff run can switch the hearts of Toronto. ‘Member Joe Clark? Toronto was a baseball town in a hurry.

        • Well said @youngjames.

  2. I’m not sure how this recent development means that the futures of Colangelo/Casey are murky or remain unanswered, in fact, they make it pretty obvious that neither has a future with this organization.

    • They could be considering demoting BC to gm and having jackson as prez.

      • I’m having trouble seeing Colangelo accepting this demotion and working for someone else. Ambition and ego is human nature…

        • He better be willing to accept a demotion. I don’t think his services will be high demand with his track record here. Don’t get me wrong I like our talent now, I just don’t like how long its taken to assemble, and the misses he’s had with O’neal, Ford, etc.

    • Ya that was my first thought too. I was kind of surprised when Colangelo wasn’t let go the day after the season ended. I think if they don’t get Phil (which is the likely outcome) they”ll keep them both for at least one more year.

  3. I’d like to see Jackson as President, with Steve Kerr (a former player of his and former Sun’s GM) as GM.

    • Steve Kerr – nooooo. I don’t like anything that happened in Phoenix post-BC. Robert Sarver and everyone he’s worked with have blood on their hands for turning a conference finalist team with plenty of potential into a lottery team. Every move they made made that team worse.

  4. Still seems like the roster would be the biggest impediment. There’s just not a lot of flexibility for a guy who probably wants to come in and put together a roster of his own. Your options at this point are tearing it all down (ain’t happening), or trying to win with the current clumsily put together core. I can’t imagine the latter being a very attractive option to Phil, regardless of how much they’re willing to pay him.

    • Maybe, but I doubt it. I think the big-picture and long-term considerations would be a lot more important in this situation. I doubt Jackson would be looking to take over something that’s already championship calibre (not that he’d say no) – he’s looking to build his own franchise. This team does start to gain significant flexibility in the next two seasons, which is not bad for somebody thinking long-term.

      I think the bigger variable is whether or not he gets competing offers from bigger markets or higher profile franchises.

    • A lot of people write of the tearing down option, and I’m not sure why. I’m suggesting it would be easy to trade guys like DeRozan and Gay with their contracts, but if Turkoglu can be moved twice, with his contract, I’ve no doubt you’d find takers for Gay and DeRozan. Bargnani might be more difficult, but there’s always the possibility of amnestying him.

    • That was supposed to be “write off” the tear down option.

      • @SR You mean AFTER the next two seasons, right? Because they’re pretty much in cap hell until then. Few assets, tons of money on the books, insanely flawed roster. Obviously the Raptors are going to win more games in the near future, but if I’m coming in trying to build my own roster I’d much rather take over say, the Bobcats than I would the Raptors.

        @TimW I’d say it’s more on ownership than anything. They’re sick of losing, and are clearly ready to throw even more money at the problem. We can debate all day whether or not that’s the right way to run a franchise in this market, but the point is that I don’t think ownership would be willing to commit to tearing it down at this point.

  5. This is still MLSE we are talking about before anyone gets their hopes up……

    It will be exciting if it happens, but it’s still doubtful

  6. I don’t know who made this rumor up, but I doubt that this will have an fact in it. For starters, there is NO way Toronto will, in a million years, EVER land Phil Jackson. Toronto neither has the talent, star power, nor incentive to attract the Zen Master. For starters, Jackson has been known to choose teams that are ready to immediately win a title such as the case with the Chicago Bulls or LA Lakers. Toronto does not even have the piece to make a strong playoff run, let alone contend for a title.

    At his age and with as much as he has accomplished, Phil has neither the patience nor the desire to coach a rebuilding team who will be at best first round fodder in the playoffs. Who came up with such a stupid rumor to begin with? Doesn’t Toronto still have Dwane Casey under contract? Personally I think that it’s poor form to discuss acquiring a coach while the team still has one under contract. And considering how Casey has turned Toronto around, even Bryan Colangelo would not be as unscrupoluos to leave Casey high and dry like that.

    • They are looking to hire him as a President or GM, not a coach. Hence we’ve got a shot.

    • If you’ve actually READ the last couple posts instead of just seeing the headline and jumping into the comment section, you’d know that ESPN’s Marc Stein is where the reports originated from and that coaching has nothing to do with the reported job offer.

      • what about this news that the Pistons have hired Jackson to be an advisor in their coaching search?

        • He’s just helping them to search for a new coach right now.

          Technically, he hasn’t actually joined their front office.

    • Hilarious post.

  7. @JMay – I agree with what you said, all true. But just like why Lieweke came here is why Phil would. These two are multi-millionaire’s border lining Billionaires….they don’t care about ESPN and the views of the average player or citizen. They care about what the Billionaire’s are saying and that they will now being hanging in with that circle and rubbing shoulders with some of the most important business people in the world. Phil is looking for a high profile job and if not in L.A or N.Y….T.O is the next best place in North America to be building this career Phil longs for….He and Tim care about what these type of people say – not ESPN’s view! ESPN is battling for ratings among the average American, so you get that view of T.O from a “don’t know any better” audience – Phil Jackson is looking to improve his career profile and finances and take on a larger role – AND, T.O is one the hottest, best places in the world right now to do that. When a guy like Tim Lieweke comes here – guys like Phil come – when guys like Phil come here – those same players who once never considered us, now will. IMO

  8. Like the groundhog Phil?

  9. Raptors are making a pitch, and Jackson is willing to listen. That’s all we know. Maybe he decides to join the team, maybe he doesn’t. Everyone is getting their panties in a knot here. lol

  10. On the plus side, this is MLSE looking for a successor before firing BC. This is good news. We don’t want them firing BC, then being stuck hiring whatever barrel-bottom leftover is willing to take the job. We want a quality replacement in place before we get rid of BC; if there isn’t one, just wait another year.

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