Suddenly, Phil Jackson is back with the Los Angeles Lakers, but strictly in an advisory role. Still, you kind of get the sense that his advice will be taken very seriously, perhaps more seriously than even that of current Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.
And per The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Jackson has been a fan of Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook “throughout his career.”
Does that mean Jackson is a fan of Westbrook with the Lakers? Amick didn’t specify, though it would be hard to imagine that Jackson saw Westbrook and the Lakers this past season, and thought they made a great match.
Just the opposite actually, as Westbrook never really seemed to take off, surely not the way the Lakers had hoped, even though he was paired with LeBron James and the oft-injured Anthony Davis.
Jackson coached the Lakers of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (and then just Bryant) to five championships in the early-to-mid 2000s, and Michael Jordan’s Bulls to six before that.
So you can be sure he recognizes what works and what doesn’t on a basketball court. And as of this past season, Westbrook’s inflated salary and performance did not work, as the Lakers couldn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament. They were undoubtedly the NBA’s biggest bust.
That may not have been entirely Westbrook’s fault, but the Lakers, their fans and the media sure were quick to lay the blame at his feet.
Either way, the Lakers will most certainly try to trade Westbrook again, perhaps to no avail, given the aforementioned contract, which is set to pay him $47 million before expiring in 2023.
So that is where Jackson comes in, theoretically. If anyone can advise on how to get the most out of a player who is coming off an uneven season, it is a former coach with 11 rings.
Follow Sam Amico @WireHoops