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Following the news of the Sacramento Kings receiving a recommendation not to move to Seattle and more than likely staying put as a result, the Toronto Raptors have kicked their pursuit of Phil Jackson into high gear.
The Raptors aren’t reaching out to Jackson to take over as head coach, but rather to run the basketball operations at the team’s president in the front office according to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:
The Toronto Raptors, emboldened by the news that the Sacramento Kings apparently won’t be moving to Seattle, have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson to be their new team president, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Raptors — now being run by former Los Angeles-based sports mogul Tim Leiweke — regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.
Although Jackson has been adamant about not wanting to return to the NBA in a coaching capacity, after being passed over by the Los Angeles Lakers in favor of Mike D’Antoni, the 11-time NBA champion has been rumored to be itching to get back in the league in a different role. Jackson has long since desired a front office position in the NBA and may have the ideal situation with the Raptors as the team’s president.
Plenty of opportunities have come and gone for Jackson ever since the Hall of Famer called it a career back in 2011, but the 67-year-old has been patiently waiting for the right time and opportunity to take. Jackson was more than willing to rejoin the Lakers for a third stint as the team’s head coach recently, but no other coaching opportunity in the league will provide the opportunity to manage a potential championship roster with Kobe Bryant running the show.
With that being said, the Raptors may be providing the best option available for Jackson in terms of making the transition from coach to the front office.
It remains to be seen the level of interest Jackson has in the open position in Toronto, but Leiweke’s involvement might be enough to convince the NBA legend to come out of retirement one more time in order to try something new.
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