Sources: Phil Jackson’s health has improved

The biggest variable that propelled Phil Jackson into retirement involved his health.

He had chronic hip and knee problems. It proved difficult to walk. The travel schedule demanded from an NBA season wore on him.

But Jackson’s health has significantly improved ever since enjoying the past year in retirement, sources say.

Jackson underwent knee replacement surgery in March. One source close to him said the Hall-of-Fame coach continuously watches NBA games on League Pass and has sensed “he needs a job” because of all the extra free time he has. More importantly, Jackson has appeared more energetic since retiring May, 2011.

“He looks way healthier than he was,” said one source who has seen Jackson in recent weeks. “He’s able to move more.”

Kobe Bryant, who said he keeps in touch frequently with Jackson, said that variable would likely play the largest factor into whether he ultimately returns for his third gig with the Lakers.

“Knowing him the way I do, I think it’s really just a matter of health, if he feels physically up to doing it,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 101-77 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors. “He’s a perfectionist. We all know he’s a perfectionist. If he feels like he can come in here and give what he demands from himself, then I think he would be interested.”

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