There is a scenario in which former Lakers coach Phil Jackson would consider returning for a third stint with the team, sources said late Friday, but it will require executive VP Jim Buss once again relinquishing the organizational reinsand this time handing them to Jackson, rather than back to GM Mitch Kupchak.One source described the possibility of Jackson returning, should a suitable offer be made, as strong.The Lakers are in need of a new head coach after firing Mike Brown Friday morning, the timing of which, if not the decision itself, completely blindsided Brown, a source said. The abruptness and timing of the decisionfive games into Browns first full seasonwas credited by one source to Lakers legend and former part-owner Magic Johnson finally winning a turf war with the younger Buss and convincing Lakers patriarch, Jerry Buss, that Brown must go. Johnson, the source said, would like to see former Laker and current Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw succeed Brown.Johnson, an ESPN and ABC analyst, has been repeatedly critical of Brown and last year announced that Brown would be fired if the Lakers failed to get past the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. The Lakers won the best-of-seven series, 4-3, before losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round, 4-1, but Kupchak dismissed any validity to Johnsons remarks.A source close to Johnson, meanwhile, said talk of him being involved in Browns ouster now was categorically untrue.Jackson, while romantically involved with Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, has long had a strained relationship with her brother Jim. When Jacksons last contract with the team expired following the 2010-11 season, Jim was granted authority over the teams basketball operations by his father, Jerry, and seemed committed to shifting away from the teams methodology under Jackson, including his Triangle offense.That offense almost assuredly would return if Jackson were granted authority andor Shaw, a long-time assistant coach of Jackson during his Lakers tenure, were hired. Sources say there is a scenario in which both Jackson and Shaw would be hired, with Shaw as the head coach mentored by Jackson.Jackson proposed a similar arrangement to the Portland Trail Blazers at one point last summer, sources say, with former assistant Kurt Rambis as his head-coach proteg and Jackson overseeing basketball operations, but the Blazers declined.Former Knicks coach Mike DAntoni, former Blazers coach Nate McMillan and Mike Dunleavy, who has coached both the Lakers and Clippers, are among the Lakers list of candidates, a source said. DAntoni just had knee replacement surgery last week and the recovery time has been projected as six weeks, but a source close to DAntoni said that an accelerated rehabilitation program could potentially cut that time in half.DAntoni, of course, would be reunited with point guard Steve Nash, who became a two-time league MVP with the Phoenix Suns in DAntonis up-tempo system and Nash, a source said, would welcome playing for him again.The challenge in returning to Jacksons Triangle offense is that it would not suit Nash nearly as well as DAntonis pick-and-roll heavy system and it often takes a full season for a team to master it. Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Metta World Peace and Devin Ebanks are the only hold-overs from the last time Jackson coached the team, and neither Blake nor Peace were particularly effective in it.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.