Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Does Phil Jackson to Orlando Magic Make Sense?
Though the rumors of Phil Jackson returning to New York to coach have ceased with Mike Woodson formally signing a contract extension, that hasn't stopped Jackson's name from being attached to the other notable open positions in the NBA.
The Orlando Magic were clearly frustrated by the fallout between Dwight Howard and former coach Stan Van Gundy, as well as the team's inability to leap to the next level. Looking to further themselves as much as possible from the era of Van Gundy and former G.M. Otis Smith, the team is targeting of the league's most accomplished winners in Jackson.
But no, there aren't any plans for the eleven-time title winner as coach (and two as a player with the Knicks) to return to the bench. Instead, Sports Illustrated is reporting the Magic are coveting Jackson for a front office role.
In fact, former Bobcats coach Sam Vincent (who also played for Jackson while a member of the Bulls) is proposing an arrangement in which he and Jackson would join the team's front office, while Pacers assistant Brian Shaw would join the fold as new Magic head coach. Scottie Pippen would sit on the bench with Shaw as his top assistant.
The Magic are desperate to hold onto Dwight Howard, who reportedly already regrets opting in to his contract for next season. Apparently they believe bringing in a winning persona such as Jackson will begin to convince the big man to stay longterm.
While the idea certainly looks good on paper and may indeed be a good start, would such a move make as much sense? Jackson has a reputation for managing and work well with bigger egos, but he's only done so on the hardwood. Who's to say he'll be equally effective in the front office?
The Magic are looking for a General Manager to help turn the team's fortunes around, but the only terms that are being tossed around in association with Jackson's name seem to be a "front office role" or an "advisory role." What's more, because Jackson desires to work remotely from Los Angeles, the Magic are reportedly requiring he spend one week per month in Orlando while also making six community appearances each month as well.
If the team is truly committed to changing the culture and resuming winning ways, the Magic are going to need a dedicated individual working the phones in an attempt to make worthwhile changes. Can Jackson be as involved while being so far away from team headquarters? Between the time requirements and community appearances, the move appears to be more of a spectacle than anything else.
If that's what it takes to keep Howard, then so be it. Bringing in Jackson (in whatever capacity both sides see fit) may be worth coughing up the money it takes to do so. But the General Manager slot would ultimately still need to be filled, whether the Magic formally name a second person the G.M., or simply hire someone else to do the work behind the scenes while Jackson acts as the figurehead. What's more, are the other commitments worth while? It's unknown what Vincent would bring to the front office, and both Shaw and Pippen would be unproven in the roles that they stand to step into.
All these commitments are arguably risky in their each individual way, and could prove to bite the Magic in the butt, should Howard end up ultimately leaving the franchise regardless. Should it all be enough, however, retaining Howard and bringing in all the mentioned personnel (all hungry for success, whether the motivation be a chance to come back, redemption, or the opportunity to prove themselves) may pave the way for some positive things ahead in Orlando.