Phil Jackson fined $25,000 for touting Derek Fisher as Knicks coaching candidate

Derek Fisher has won five NBA titles in his 18-year career and is hoping to secure one more before calling it quits. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Derek Fisher has won five NBA titles in his 18-year career and is hoping to secure one more before calling it quits. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Usually, Phil Jackson drew an NBA-imposed fine for criticizing the referees, a relatively small downpayment Jackson deposited to help rattle an opposing teams’s superstar during a key playoff series.

But these circumstances were different.

As the New York Knicks president, Jackson drew a $25,000 fine for touting Derek Fisher as a coaching candidate while he still played for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Per NBA rules, team officials cannot talk about acquiring other players under contract with another team and is considered tampering.

“He’s definitely a person on my list, who could be a very good candidate for this job,” Jackson recently said about Fisher to reporters in New York while he still played with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Knicks and Lakers are expected to interview Fisher at some point. But they would have to seek and receive permission from the Thunder to do so since Fisher will stay under contract with the team until June 30. Fisher has said he plans to retire, though he left the possibility open to play in what would mark his 19th season.


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers Q&A: NBA TV’s Rick Fox believes Lakers will keep Mike D’Antoni

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center,  El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18,  2014.  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni during a press conference held at the Toyota Sports Center, El Segundo Calif., Friday, April 18, 2014.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Two prevailing themes emerged throughout my recent half hour phone interview with NBA TV analyst Rick Fox.

The Lakers have too many question marks heading into this offseason, including who they will draft, who they can acquire via free agency, which of the team’s 12 free agents will stay next season and how Kobe Bryant will recover next season. The Lakers also will have to decide what they will do with coach Mike D’Antoni, who has yet to meet with the front office since last week’s exit meetings. With each day that passes, Fox believes that means D’Antoni’s job appears more and more secure despite overseeing the Lakers (27-55) worst mark in L.A. franchise history.

Below is part one of my transcript with Fox, the former three-time NBA champion with the Lakers who touched on nearly everything pertaining to the purple and gold.

Do you think Mike D’Antoni will be the Lakers’ head coach next season?

Fox: (laughs). If they were to do something, they would have done it already. He has the confidence of the owners and Mitch Kupchak. It was a difficult year. That’s clearly evident to all. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they see Mike as fully responsible for the breakdown physically of the team and the roster that lost Dwight Howard. With their plan for the future, they seem to be planning to rebuild this offseason. It’s very clear to me, and they expressed that, that they want to spend their money down the line. In spending money down the line, such free agents I’m sure will have questions about who their coach is going to be and even want a voice in that. I don’t know how you turn around and hire a new coach right now when a year from now you’re going to be addressing the same situation.

How do you evaluate how Mike did this year?

Fox: Some would say he did an admirable job amid the chaos. It’s just hard for Lakers fans to see or endorse a season that happened last year. It’s so uncharacteristic of the organization to be faced with such challenges. But if you really look at the history, it’s once or twice before and the turnaround has been quick. The challenges to do that may be different than they were then with the salary cap and the way the league operates now. But only time will tell.

From a system approach, Mike’s system has an entertaining quality to it, but it also has its critics. If he had won a championship at this point, maybe it wouldn’t be so maligned. In that regard, it puts him in the firing line. It’s a lot easier to take shots at him. But at the end of the day, I don’t know if any coach put in the same position would have been able to do better. They likely would have done the same thing, if not worse.
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Phil Jackson attends Knicks shootaround, but not expected to attend Lakers-Knicks game

At any given moment, Laker fans are prone to yell “We want Phil,” a constant plea for Phil Jackson to restore championship prosperity back to the struggling franchise.

But it appears unlikely Jackson will hear them first hand when the Lakers (23-46) host the New York Knicks (29-41) tonight at Staples Center. This marks the first time the two teams play each other since Jackson became president of the Knicks’ front office after having an unofficial consulting role last season with the Lakers in part because of his relationship with fiance Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ president. New York does not expect Jackson to be in attendance at the game, though he was seen in the Knicks’ locker room during morning shootaround at Staples Center.

Jackson respectfully declined to talk when a few reporters approached him in the locker room, but Knicks star Carmelo Anthony emerged from there shortly after speaking with him.

“I’ve seen him here and there. But not a sitdown to talk,” said Anthony, who could opt out of his contract this offseason to become a free agent.
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Jeanie Buss said Phil Jackson was never offered an official position with the Lakers

 Phil Jackson during his introductory press conference at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2014 in New York City.

Phil Jackson during his introductory press conference at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2014 in New York City.

The news that the Lakers chose Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson to become the next Lakers coach affected Jeanie Buss’ emotional well being. After a tumultuous season filled with a first-round exit, never-ending injuries and a split among stars and role players in embracing D’Antoni’s fast-paced system, Buss conceded wondering how things may have played out differently had Jackson become the coach. And this whole dynamic bothered Buss so much she detailed her frustration on how it affected her relationship with her brother, the Lakers vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, in a memoir released before this season.

Yet, on an appearance with Time Warner Cable SportsNet on Tuesday night, Buss sounded fairly pragmatic in reflecting on the events that ultimately led toward Jackson becoming president of the New York Knicks’ basketball operations.

“He was not offered any official position,” Buss said regarding Jackson with the Lakers. “There is no role in the front office for him for what he can contribute. Maybe I could have him sell sponsorships, do something like that and work security. But I don’t think that would be something that would give Phil the kind of challenge he’s looking for that would fulfill him. Anybody that knows when you’re not involved in a relationship, if your significant other isn’t happy or satisfied with they’re doing, it’s not fun. Everybody has to find what their passion is. For Phil, basketball is his passion and he’s good at it.”

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Phil Jackson officially joins the New York Knicks

SAN ANTONIO — Will the “We want Phil” chants now stop? Or will they just grow louder?

Whatever the case, Phil Jackson isn’t walking through that door to restore the Lakers back to a storied franchise. Instead, he will oversee the New York Knicks’ front office.

Will Jackson’s departure provide some relief for Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni?

“Nah,” D’Antoni said abruptly.

Moments earlier, D’Antoni spoke highly of the coach many Lakers fans wished had replaced Mike Brown after he was fired five games into last season. Instead the Lakers hired D’Antoni, who has become wildly unpopular amid the Lakers’ persistent losing and injury-riddled rosters.

“It’s a good move,” said D’Antoni, who coached the Knicks from 2008 to 2012. “He obviously is a knowledgeable basketball guy. They need that right now.”

The Knicks sure do.

They’ve become a laughing stock of the NBA, a once accomplished organization riddled by bad contracts, a lack of supporting cast around Carmelo Anthony and a meddling owner in James Dolan. But plenty of Laker fans had hoped Jackson could become a savior for the organization after winning five of his 11 NBA titles in two separate stints as the team’s head coach.

But the Lakers passed him over last November in favor of D’Antoni five games into the season following Mike Brown’s firing. Jackson, who is engaged to Lakers president Jeanie Buss, has become an unofficial consultant with the Lakers. But he has had minimal influence and hasn’t spoken to vice president of player personnel Jim Buss since the Lakers interviewed Jackson.

So instead, Jackson will join the organization he once played for as a key bench reserve that won two NBA championships in the 1970′s. Despite Jackson’s basketball resume, however, he lacks front office experience. There’s also concerns how much autonomy the micro-managing Dolan will give him.

But the Knicks are hoping Jackson could attract potential free agents and bring more structure to an organization that has lacked it.

“He has a hell of a mind,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Being a coach, it’s sort of a pain in the [rear]. He’s a smart guy.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Pete Carroll congratulates Phil Jackson on apparent role with New York Knicks

Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson talks to the media about the Lakers at a Time Warner event to honor the late Jerry Buss in Los Angeles.  Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News

Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson talks to the media about the Lakers at a Time Warner event to honor the late Jerry Buss in Los Angeles. Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News

Everything Pete Carroll has done has seemingly turned into gold, including leading USC to a 2004 BCS national championship and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII this past season. Now Carroll has incidentally turned into an NBA insider, tweeting perhaps preemptively that Phil Jackson has accepted a position with the New York Knicks.


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Jeanie & Jim Buss downplay “Laker Girl” excerpts detailing frustration with relationship

Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson talks to the media about the Lakers at a Time Warner event to honor the late Jerry Buss in Los Angeles.  Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News

Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson talks to the media about the Lakers at a Time Warner event to honor the late Jerry Buss in Los Angeles. Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News

Do Jeanie and Jim Buss get along?

Excerpts from Jeanie’s updated memoir, Laker Girl, suggest they don’t. According to excerpts published by The Los Angeles Times, the Lakers president detailed how the front office passing on Phil Jackson in their coaching search last season and choosing Mike D’Antoni to replace the fired Mike Brown negatively affected her emotional well being.

Considering her allegiances to Jackson as a longtime companion, Jeanie also suggested in the memoir that the situation hurt her relationship with her brother Jim, the Lakers’ vice president of player personnel.

But in statements released by the Lakers, both Jeanie and Jim Buss downplayed what those excerpts suggest.

“The words and sentiments in Jeanie’s new book reflect her feelings and frustrations nearly a year ago, and how she felt at that time,” Jim Buss said in a statement. “I understand that Jeanie felt that way, and why she felt that way. Since that time, we have discussed the situation, the circumstances that led to it, and our feelings about it. Both of us feel this has been resolved and have put this behind us.”

“Jim has been great in terms of understanding my feelings about this and in fostering an atmosphere that has led to better communication,” Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “We have regular meetings and talks and are both committed to creating the best working environment possible, as are my sister and brothers as well. We are focused only on what is best for the franchise and in making the Lakers championship contenders.”

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Jeanie Buss: Lakers passing over Phil Jackson “practically destroyed me”

Jeanie Buss answers talks to the media about the Lakers at a Time Warner event to honor the late Jerry Buss in Los Angeles.  Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News

Jeanie Buss answers talks to the media about the Lakers at a Time Warner event to honor the late Jerry Buss in Los Angeles. Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News

Almost 10 months have passed since the Lakers passed on Phil Jackson and chose Mike D’Antoni as instead to take over for Mike Brown as the team’s head coach.

There’s one significant person within the Lakers who remains unhappy about it.

Jeanie Buss.

The Lakers president revealed in her updated memoir, “Laker Girl,” co-written by former Los Angeles Times sportswriter Steve Springer, how the team’s front office handled the coaching search negatively affected her emotional well being.

“The sequence of events — Phil almost coming back and then being told someone else was better for the job — practically destroyed me,” Buss wrote, according to excerpts. “It almost took away my passion for this job and this game. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back. It was a betrayal. I was devastated.”
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