Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers

On Tuesday, most of us were convinced that news regarding Bryan Colangelo’s job status would emerge throughout the day.

Late Wednesday afternoon (or whenever it is that you stumble upon this) we still aren’t seeing any clearer in that regard, but there’s plenty more Phil Jackson chatter to hold us over in the meantime…

As most of you are probably aware by now, the original source of the Jackson/Toronto link was ESPN’s Marc Stein, and on Wednesday, Stein continued to be a driving force of the speculation on TrueHoop TV with Henry Abbott and David Thorpe.

In terms of points that stick out from the video, Stein says that Jackson probably wants a stronger role than the advisory one that Jerry West has with the Warriors and mentioned that “bottom feeder teams” like the Raptors and Bobcats “in unglamorous Eastern Conference cities” are interested, among others.

Personally, I’m fine with Stein comparing Toronto’s and Charlotte’s basketball teams and referring to the Raptors as a bottom feeder because that’s what they’ve been for the better part of 18 seasons, but don’t ever compare Charlotte to Toronto as a city, especially when describing a city as “unglamorous.” We’re better than that here in Toronto, and you’re better than the average American sports journalist who would usually make that comparison, Stein.

In terms of coaches that will be in play should Jackson take over the basketball operations for an NBA team, the obvious answer of Brian Shaw came up, as did the name Kurt Rambis.

The biggest point that many fans will take from the TrueHoop video is Stein’s proclamation that Toronto “is the team to keep an eye on” while also adding, “I would probably, at this point, give the Raptors the best chance.” As usual, Leiweke’s presence is the main reason that the Raptors are seen as favourites, with Stein referring to MLSE’s new CEO as “an undeniable superstar among sports executives.

In one of the more intriguing tidbits from the nearly six-minute segment, Abbott mentioned that “Phil’s family’s from Canada” and that “he’s got roots there,” which was the first I had heard of any Canadian roots. However, it just so happens that Macleans.ca posted an interview with Leiweke on their website on Friday, and when it came to the question of Phil Jackson, here’s how Leiweke answered (note the mention of family again)

“Well, I think it’s nice to throw Phil’s name out there, but he’s newly engaged and his fiancée lives in L.A. He has grandkids now. So I think that although Phil will certainly be—and has been—someone I’ve gone to for advice and input, I don’t think people should expect he is going to be the saviour. We have a current GM, Bryan [Colangelo]. So, first and foremost, I need to go spend time with Bryan before we can define problems, solutions and answers. Phil Jackson knows the city well, by the way—he has a bunch of Canadians in his family, so he’s very partial to Toronto and wants the Raptors to have success. But I don’t want people to think he is going to ride in on a white horse and fix this. It’s not that easy.”

While Leiweke clearly downplays the idea of Jackson strolling in and magically transforming the franchise, I’d still assume that if Phil is open to the idea of Toronto, then Leiweke and MLSE will attempt to lure him into some sort of front office role. In addition, while I still believe that the predictable end to this saga will see Bryan Colangelo’s team option picked up for next season, isn’t it at least somewhat possible that Jackson could join the staff as a high ranking front office member while B.C. runs the day-to-day operations?

I understand that the possibility is highly unlikely and there are currently no reports out there to suggest that it is possible, but at this point, I just don’t think anyone should be ruling anything out.

On that note, if it isn’t an option and if Colangelo’s job is being determined by whether Jackson would or wouldn’t come to Toronto, then a familiar face from RaptorBlog past has a solid viewpoint on the matter…