Column: If Jeanie Buss ran show, could Phil Jackson's return be far behind?

2013-02-21T14:00:00Z Column: If Jeanie Buss ran show, could Phil Jackson's return be far behind?By T.J. SIMERS - McClatchy Tribune Writer Herald-Review.com

LOS ANGELES - Let's take this a step further.

The two basketball experts in town, Magic and the L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke, have declared Jeanie Buss should be in charge of the Lakers.

This has to be a blow to Jimmy Buss, who probably understands he also won't be Phil Jackson's choice as best man.

But if Jeanie Jackson is running the Lakers, whom do you think she would like to hire as team president?

She's already interviewed him repeatedly, they have experience carpooling to work and I can't imagine she'll be crazy about the idea of getting married and leaving Phil at home alone in the hot tub.

Or worse, as the Times' Mike Bresnahan has reported, there's the possibility Phil might take a similar position in Seattle if the Kings move there.

Now let's see, would Phil be more interested in living in an apartment in Seattle working for the Kings or staying with his wife and overseeing the Lakers?

He's already talking about the Lakers, choosing to talk with Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum in a published interview Tuesday.

McCallum was an interesting choice. McCallum wrote "Seven Seconds or Less," the book on Mike D'Antoni's Suns.

I wonder if Phil was pumping McCallum for info about the coach who might be working for him next season.

When McCallum asked Phil if he would be coaching again, Jackson replied, "I'm not coaching.

"But I do hold out the idea that there's some influence in the game I could have," mentioning Red Auerbach, Pete Newell and Wayne Embry.

He said he doesn't like the term, "GM," adding, "vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel is more like it."

If so, I wonder where Jimmy will be selling cars next year.

The interview with Phil, coupled with one Mitch Kupchak did on radio Wednesday morning, suggests Mitch the GM and Phil the prospective VP of basketball operations/director of player personnel are already in sync.

In a terrific interview with ESPN's Colin Cowherd, Kupchak made it clear as Jackson had to McCallum, they both love Dwight Howard.

Kupchak was already talking about hanging Howard's retired jersey on the wall, saying he "deserves to be" mentioned with the top names in Lakers history. There were moments when Kupchak just lost it under Cowherd's intense grilling.

Kupchak also said the day is coming when there will be a statue of Howard outside Staples, while making it clear Howard is the future of the franchise.

I guess that answers the question whether the Lakers have any interest in trading him or are concerned he might sign elsewhere this off-season.

Funny, though, Kupchak said the Lakers can't "bank" on Kobe's future with the team after next year, not knowing what he's going to do when his contract expires. And yet he seems to be banking everything on Howard, while not knowing what Howard will do when his contract expires.

Kupchak, at times teetering between reality and living on another planet, said, "We're all very happy with Mike D'Antoni."

I guess Mitch doesn't spend a lot of time with Pau Gasol.

Phil, meanwhile, has Gasol entering the Hall of Fame one day and told McCallum the Lakers won two championships with two big guys. And he does not understand why the Lakers haven't done a better job of utilizing Howard and Gasol together.

As for Howard, he said, "... Dwight just doesn't get any touches. They've basically eliminated his assets."

He said Howard must do a better job of not turning the ball over, which "will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now."

I think we know how Howard feels about Phil's possible return.

Phil said he would probably return to Staples Center on April 2 when Shaq's jersey is retired.

In the meantime the let's-bash-Howard party will continue, a mystery here what he's done to generate such disgust.

The system has allowed him to take advantage of free agency; Kobe did the same thing a few years ago. Kobe refused to say if was going to return to the Lakers and actually met with Donald Sterling and told him he would be signing with the Clippers.

Before he could do so, he talked to Jerry Buss. And while NBA rules don't allow it to be included in a player's compensation, I remain convinced Kobe was told that he would have an opportunity to become a minority owner of the Lakers a la Magic when he finally stopped shooting.

Howard is also not Howard, not yet a year removed from back surgery and adding a torn labrum to his concerns. Jackson and Kupchak mentioned that, and yet Howard leads the NBA in rebounding.

He smiles too much - everyone in the world smiles too much as far as Kobe is concerned - and so this must mean he's not giving his all.

Whatever the reason for the disgust, he's going to remain with the Lakers this season and one day become a statue in front of Staples, if Kupchak has it right.

And maybe even standing there right beside the likeness of the Lakers' former coach and vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel who came back to the team to get the very best out of Howard.

Copyright 2015 Herald-Review.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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