Phil Jackson, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of USA Today:
Q: With that in mind, the natural question is what does that mean going forward? That was a unique situation, but do you see opportunity elsewhere that you like?
A: There are a few (opportunities), but I shouldn’t name them. It wouldn’t be right to talk about it, name anything. But yeah, there are some. There are winners and losers in the NBA, and a lot of people are trying to reclaim their position or change their culture or whatever. So yeah, there is. I’ve had conversations. Some of them are feelers. "Are you interested?" type of thing. I did go out to Detroit last year and sit with (Pistons President) Joe (Dumars). I guess we weren’t successful, but I really encouraged (Pistons owner) Tom Gores that the general manager has to be able to pick his coach so they can win it together. And Joe wanted Maurice, so it didn’t work out, unfortunately for Maurice. I developed a relationship with the owner, who lives in LA. We have conversations.
Q: So is that still an ongoing relationship?
A: I’m just like an adviser, an unpaid adviser. So far, my advice hasn’t been too great (laughs).
Q: Well at least they’re not wasting their money on you…
A: Tom is a generous guy, but I really don’t want to make him feel like it’s more than it is. It’s a professional kind of opinion that I have. But I like their chances as they go forward. They had some curious free agent (selections) but I like their young guys. (Andre) Drummond is good.
Phil Jackson, advising in the Pistons’ last coaching search, didn’t get his apparent choice of Brian Shaw. But it’s interesting Jackson, if you take him at his word, told Tom Gores it was important Joe Dumars get to pick his own coach.
Obviously, that coach, Maurice Cheeks, failed in Detroit – and if Jackson’s re-telling of events is accurate, Dumars deserves blame for hiring Cheeks. Jackson also deserves credit for understanding how a functional franchise runs best, even if his own place at the table undermined the Pistons’ cohesiveness.
It sounds like Jackson is still filling his role as unpaid advisor. I wonder how Jackson will will fit in Gores’ plans this offseason.
Jackson is unproven as a general manager, though I’d strongly consider taking a chance on him in that role. But first I’d push for him to also coach for a couple years, groom his replacement and then slide into a solely front-office position.