PHOENIX — Lakers coach Phil Jackson did his best to set the record straight tonight, contradicting two ESPN reports about his future. No, he has not been contacted through back channels or any other channels about his interest in coaching either the Chicago Bulls or the New Jersey Nets when his Lakers contract runs out at season’s end. No, he has not made up his mind about coaching next season with the Lakers or any other team. No, nothing has changed since he said earlier this month it was 90 percent that he would either coach the Lakers next season or head home to retire.
Here’s more of what he said before Game 4:
“Those channels have not reached me. I have no awareness of that at all. … I’ll leave it open and just say that as of now I have not made up my mind about coaching or not coaching next year. That’s all I can say, really and truthfully. I’m not entertaining any conversations about that right now. I just can’t imagine it (coaching elsewhere). Not to say it’s beyond your wildest dreams that it would never happen. The strangest things do. It’s just not part of my conscious thought right now. We’re on this path (in the 2010 playoffs). Let’s go down that path. No, they’re not a distraction to me. Not to the players even. I have no desire, none at all, to go back to Chicago and coach the Bulls.”
PHOENIX — You can add this one to the list of dubious ESPN.com reports, but the site is reporting the Chicago Bulls have put out feelers about re-hiring Lakers coach Phil Jackson. No sources are named in the story, which isn’t surprising since no one from Chicago would be caught dead putting a name to the report. Can you say tampering, boys and girls? Jackson is signed with the Lakers through the end of the season and he said recently he was almost certain he would either coach the team next season or retire. He wasn’t interested in moving elsewhere. A decision will be made after a visit to his doctor.
PHOENIX — Andrew Bynum said today he plans to play in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the pair talked and agreed Bynum should play against the Phoenix Suns. Jackson said after Bynum scored two points and grabbed two rebounds in only 7 1/2 minutes in Game 3 that it might be best if the 7-footer sat out to rest his injured right knee. Bynum has torn meniscus.
Meanwhile, the Suns said guard Steve Nash suffered a broken nose when Derek Fisher gave him an accidental head-butt in Game 3. Technically, Nash was said to have a minimally displaced nasal fracture with displaced cartilage. Nash practiced with his teammates today and said he would play in Game 4.
PHOENIX — The big post-Game 3 news tonight was that Lakers coach Phil Jackson indicated he might consider sitting Andrew Bynum down for a game to rest his injured right knee. Bynum had two points and two rebounds in only 7 1/2 minutes tonight, picking up fouls and looking painfully slow while trying to stop Amare Stoudemire of the Suns. Here’s Bynum’s response when told of Jackson’s comments: “I was ineffective. That’s obvious.” Of sitting out, he said, “That’s not going to do anything. The surgery will do something. It doesn’t make sense. No, I don’t feel like it would help.”
PHOENIX — The only numbers that really seemed to matter in the first half of Game 3 tonight were these: 20 and three. As in, the Phoenix Suns shot 20 free throws, making 18, and the Lakers shot three, making none. The disparity at the free throw line overshadowed a lot of other things, including Kobe Bryant’s 19 points, five rebounds and five assists. The Lakers are in serious foul trouble going into the second half. Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom each have three and Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol have two apiece.
PHOENIX — Lakers coach Phil Jackson wasn’t too happy to hear Andrew Bynum say he was looking ahead to playing the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals next month. Said Jackson before Game 3 tonight: “It was a moment we’d call a brain (cramp) in our business,He wasn’t thinking very clearly right then. … We’re not thinking ahead. If we do, we’re going to end up coming back here (for Game 6).”
Andrew Bynum took a different route than many of his teammates today when he actually talked about the chance that the Lakers might meet the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals next month. Here’s some of what he had to say: “It’s going to be amazing to play against those guys again, especially having lost (in the 2008 Finals). There’s going to be a lot of ammo to go after those guys. They’re definitely a great team. They’ve got great veterans.”
UPDATE: Bosh’s agent denied any such list has been made.
Here is the story from ESPN.com:
“Chris Bosh’s agent has told the Toronto Raptors that he’s narrowed his list of preferred teams to five, two sources told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford at the NBA draft camp (in Chicago).The list of five teams — Toronto plus the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks, sources said — was given to Toronto management in case the Raptors want to construct a sign-and-trade deal (assuming Bosh doesn’t re-sign with Toronto). Bosh likes that option, sources told Ford, because he’d get one more year on his contract and could make more money.
“Sources said the Raptors prefer a sign-and-trade if Bosh is intent on leaving as well. They likely would want a big man to replace the 6-10, 230-pound Bosh in the lineup. One source said Bosh’s decision hinges on where LeBron James signs. ‘If LeBron decides to go to either New York or Chicago, I think that’s where you’ll see Chris land,” the source told Ford. “If LeBron stays in Cleveland, I think the process is more wide open.’ Bosh, 26, is an unrestricted free agent. He averaged 24 points per game last season and has averaged 20.2 points per game for his career.”
My two cents: Bosh’s game is too much like Pau Gasol’s to make this work for the Lakers on the floor. Gasol and Andrew Bynum mesh because Gasol can step out on the perimeter and open the paint for Bynum with his shooting and passing. Let me know what you think. Would you rather have Bosh than Bynum?
It’s a long season and there are new people joining the circus that is the mob that covers the Lakers now that the team is deep into the playoffs, but can we please put an end to the Phil Jackson is taking a pay cut stories? Anyone who follows the team knows the beat writers have written repeatedly that Jerry Buss doesn’t want to pay Jackson $12 million to coach the team next season. You guys do know that, right? It might take something around $5 or $6 million or maybe even less to get a deal done. Of course, that’s assuming Jackson decides to come back after his current contract runs out after the season. That’s another angle that’s been covered to death, by the way.
So, to review:
First, Jackson won’t be getting $12 million per season in his next deal.
Second, he will decide whether to coach next season when this one is done.
Got it? Good. Let’s move on.
No practice today. More news, notes and quotes on Friday.
Let’s turn this post over to Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry, who said after Game 2 of the Western Conference finals tonight at Staples Center: “We’re just having a hard time. We can’t slow them down. I thought we played well offensively, but every time we tried to make an adjustment to slow them down, they’d go somewhere else. You do a great job on Kobe (Bryant) and, you know, I thought we did. Then they go to Pau (Gasol) and we double-team Pau and there’s Lamar (Odom), and we get it out of Lamar’s hands and Jordan Farmar makes shots. There’s a good reason they’re the world champs.”