Dwight Howard denies telling Lakers he wants Phil Jackson as head coach

The pressing question surrounding the Lakers no longer settles on whether they’ll grasp the Princeton-based offense.

Now the Lakers are wondering who their next head coach will be. SheridanHoops.com’s Chris Sheridan has reported that Dwight Howard has already expressed what he’d like, telling the Lakers he’d want them to bring back Phil Jackson.

Yet, Howard denied that assertion before entering the players’ lounge before the Lakers (1-4) play the Golden State Warriors (3-2) tonight at Staples Center.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Howard told the Daily News. “I didn’t tell anyone anything.”

Bernie Bickerstaff will become the interim coach at least for tonight’s game, but Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday that they will hire their next head coach “the sooner, the better.” Such possibilities could include former Utah coach Jerry Sloan, former Portland coach Nate McMillan, former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, Pacers assistant and former Lakers assistant Brian Shaq and Jackson.

Jackson, who won five of his 11 NBA championships with the Lakers, was the only candidate Kupchak mentioned by name.

“When there’s a coach like Phil Jackson, one of the all time greats and he’s not coaching, you’d be negligent not to be aware that he’s out there,” Kupchak said. “As I mentioned earlier, we’re putting together our list and attack plan. We have not reached out to anybody at this time.”

Jackson currently lives in Los Angeles during the NBA season with his longtime companion, Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations. Jackson is also said to be in much better health on his knees and hips and rejuvenated after spending the past NBA season in retirement. Still, Jackson had said during his last season that he had no interest in experiencing the grind of an NBA season.

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