View Full Version : Guess it's official - Phil Jackson done for now.

06-18-2004, 09:59 PM

Phil Jackson is leaving the Los Angeles Lakers. Jackson, one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, won't return as coach of the Lakers next season.

His agent Todd Musberger told The Associated Press on Friday that a joint statement would be released sometime tonight.

The move was expected even before Jackson met with Lakers owner Jerry Buss on Friday after participating in season-ending interviews with several players earlier in the day.

Jackson has an opportunity to remain with the organization in another position and will decide in the upcoming days, ESPN has learned.

Also Friday, Kobe Bryant opted out of his contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Jackson's five-year, $30 million contract expires at the end of the month.

Jackson left the Lakers' practice facility Friday smiling, although it was for the final time as the team's coach. His stepping down as coach was discussed at his meeting Buss later Friday.

Asked beforehand whether he was looking forward to meeting with his boss, Jackson smiled and replied: "Oh, yeah."

The prevailing sentiment had been that Jackson coached his last game with the Lakers on Tuesday night when they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

"The No. 1 priority for us right now is to resolve the coaching situation," general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday. "We would hope to have that addressed in a short period of time."

Asked how Friday would end, Jackson replied: "The sun goes down and I'll be at the Greek Theatre watching Garrison Keillor," referring to a public radio show he planned to attend.

Jackson and Kupchak participated in season-exit interviews with Bryant, Derek Fisher, Gary Payton, Slava Medvedenko and Jamal Sampson before Jackson left the training facility.

Lakers spokesman John Black said Shaquille O'Neal canceled his exit interview through his agent, Perry Rogers. It's believed O'Neal was upset by some of Kupchak's comments a day earlier, when the GM left the door open to a possible trade involving O'Neal if the player demanded it.

Jackson coached the Lakers to championships in his first three seasons with them, giving him nine, which tied former Boston coach Red Auerbach for the most in NBA history.

In 14 seasons as a head coach, Jackson is 832-316 for a .725 winning percentage -- best in NBA history. His 175 playoff wins are the most ever, and his .717 postseason winning percentage is also tops.

Jackson, 58, coached the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls to championships in 1992-94 and 1996-98. Jackson then took a year off before becoming coach of the Lakers. His teams in Chicago and Los Angeles had a 9-0 record in the NBA Finals before this year.

Jackson had been discussing a contract extension, but the Lakers ended talks in February until after the season. Jackson's agent, Todd Musberger, was with the coach Friday.

Musberger said earlier in the week that Jackson "has never said that he has no interest in coming back."

Jackson said after the Lakers' 100-87 loss to the Pistons on Tuesday night that there was "a pretty slim chance" he'll coach the team next season.

While Kupchak said Thursday that dealing with Jackson's situation was the Lakers' No. 1 priority, he also made it clear that signing Bryant was a top priority.

Bryant didn't comment Friday except to shake hands with a couple reporters.

"Have a good summer. Thanks for everything," he said before leaving.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

06-18-2004, 10:03 PM
It does my heart so much good to see him go out a loser.

06-18-2004, 10:05 PM

06-18-2004, 10:06 PM
Let the Larry Brown to LA rumours begin...... :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :devil:

06-18-2004, 10:34 PM
Another article (sorry, don't have the original link)

The Lakers are Kobe's team, should he decide to stay.

That's becoming increasingly obvious every day.

But Bryant opted out of his contract Friday and will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, ESPN has learned.

Bryant was among several Lakers players who went through season-ending exit interviews Friday with general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Phil Jackson.

Bryant wouldn't comment afterward except to say: "Have a good summer. Thanks for everything," as he shook hands with a couple reporters before leaving the Lakers' training facility.

Bryan has had his differences with Jackson and fellow superstar Shaquille O'Neal over the years.

In addressing reporters Thursday, Kupchak said the team intends to do whatever it can to keep Bryant. Having opted out of his current contract, Bryant could sign a seven-year deal worth around $140 million with the Lakers.

O'Neal canceled his scheduled exit interview Friday, apparently upset at remarks made by Kupchak, who left the door open to trading the star center if he demanded it while saying Bryant would never be traded.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein has learned that the Lakers' big man, who can opt out of his contract after next season, has demanded a trade.

Derek Fisher, who can also opt out, said after his exit interview Friday he was uncertain about Bryant's future as well as his own.

But Fisher did make a few salient remarks concerning Bryant.

"I think he has a lot of say-so in the way the situation is going to turn out, and rightfully so," Fisher said.

That's assuming Bryant doesn't go elsewhere.

"I think he is going to take his time," Fisher said of Bryant, who still has to deal with sexual assault charges in Colorado, with a trial expected to begin later this summer.

"I think Kobe has a really strong desire to accomplish a lot more things as a player," Fisher said. "He owes it to himself to make sure every possible scenario is set up for him to play at a higher level than anybody's ever seen.

"I think he has every intention of wanting to come back. He wants to make sure it's in the right setting."

Fisher had until Saturday to make a decision regarding his contract situation, but it was extended to next Thursday. He will earn $3 million with the Lakers if he doesn't opt out.

"There's a lot of emotions right now," Fisher said. "I talked to my agent 20 times yesterday trying to figure out what to do, how to make the decision."

That was before the date was extended.

"I think Derek has got a lot of value," said Fisher's agent, Mark Bartlestein. "We're going to try to come up with a deal that pays him what he's worth."

Bartlestein wouldn't elaborate.

"At the root of it, there's no question about me wanting to be here," Fisher said. "This is my life, basically, for eight years."

Fisher joined the Lakers in 1996 -- the same year as O'Neal and Bryant.

Fisher and Bryant joked and exchanged hugs as they left.

"There are so many question marks regarding our future, the total direction of this team," Fisher said. "I don't want to make a decision just to please everybody. Basically, this decision determines the rest of my career."

Fisher said Kupchak told him he would love to have him finish his career with the Lakers.

"That says a lot," Fisher said. "There's no question the Lakers would love to have me back. I would love to be back. Hopefully we can find some common ground. Business is business."

Fisher could opt out and sign with the Lakers and return for substantially more money. He has also made it known he wants to at least be able to compete for a starting job. Gary Payton joined the Lakers this season and took Fisher's starting job.

Payton has a deadline of next Wednesday to opt out of his contract or return and be paid $5.4 million next season. Payton refused comment following his exit interview Friday.

Karl Malone, who opted out of his contract Wednesday, is expected to learn the severity of the knee injury he sustained during the finals in the next couple of weeks.

"They've got to let the swelling go down," Malone's agent, Dwight Manley, said Friday. "The Lakers have so many other issues going on, it's probably good for Karl to sit back and see what's going on before he decides what he's going to do."

Malone, who turns 41 next month, has said he would only play with the Lakers and only if he's 100 percent healthy.

So Phil's gone, Kobe and Malone have opted out, Payton has until Wednesday to decide if he's going to opt out, and Shaq has demanded a trade.


06-18-2004, 10:36 PM
It does my heart so much good to see him go out a loser.

He won't be gone forever , Rumors already flying he may coach Dallas or Another EC team ;) He may take off a year though before this happens.

06-18-2004, 10:38 PM
They've updated the article with the following:

Apparently upset over Kupchak's remarks, O'Neal's canceled his exit interview. O'Neal is under contract for two more years but could opt out after next season.

O'Neal subsequently did demand a trade, ESPN.com's Marc Stein has learned.

I hearby christen today, June 18th, be known now and forever as Black Friday in Lakerland. :evillaugh:

:yes: :happydance:

[edit]Oops, Hicks beat me to it. :blush:

06-18-2004, 10:40 PM
No surprise that Shaq want's out , you could tell in his tone after the Game 5 loss he wanted out.

06-18-2004, 10:47 PM
It does my heart so much good to see him go out a loser.

He won't be gone forever , Rumors already flying he may coach Dallas or Another EC team ;) He may take off a year though before this happens.

The Charlotte Bobcats perhaps?

06-18-2004, 10:48 PM
It does my heart so much good to see him go out a loser.

He won't be gone forever , Rumors already flying he may coach Dallas or Another EC team ;) He may take off a year though before this happens.

The Charlotte Bobcats perhaps?

Nah , you Know phil don't coach unless it's a team that is a contender :rolleyes:

06-18-2004, 10:56 PM
One could have only hoped.

06-19-2004, 02:07 AM
On top of everything else, D.Fish is a free agent? Man that team is really going to suck.

I wonder where he'll go.

06-19-2004, 04:34 AM
What will Payton do? If he opts out would any other team give him more than 5.4Mil based on his woeful finals performance. If the Lakers are really going back to showtime then maybe he wont opt out so he can keep his cash and play PG or backup PG depending on who the Lakers get.

06-19-2004, 09:58 AM
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Not. :unimpressed: :pepper: