Jackson denies contract demands, says Lakers not a title team

Thumbnail image for phil-jackson-exit-interview.jpgPhil Jackson said in a statement Monday that his discussions with the Lakers all took place during a visit to his home Saturday by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, the team's key decision-makers. From the LA Times:

"I didn’t solicit or ask for the opportunity but I welcomed both [of them] into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as head coach," Jackson said.

“We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job.

"I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility."

Jackson's agent Todd Musberger later said there was no negotiations about powers, salary or Jackson getting a piece of ownership. And he sounds pissed, on Jackson's behalf.

"No discussion of those ideas being contractual terms or demands was ever made," Musburger said. "They had a full discussion of the club, the roster, the schedule, assistants, etc. But to allow someone either on their side or on D’Antoni’s side to make these allegations -- unsubstantiated and incorrect -- and incorrectly maligning Phil is so objectionable to us that the process would have concluded this way."

Later, in an interview with the LAT's Mike Bresnahan, Jackson said he hadn't decided if he wanted to rejoin the Lakers before he got the call informing him he wasn't needed. He saidf the process was "slimy."

"I wish it would have been a little bit cleaner," a relaxed and chatty Jackson said in a phone interview Monday night with The Times. "It could have been much more circumspect and respectful of everybody that’s involved. It seemed slimy to be awoken with this kind of news. It’s just weird."


"I do think the Lakers have the personnel that could come out of the West," he said. "I don’t know if they have the mobility and agility to contend with the East. To call this a championship-bound team, that’s a misnomer. That’s one of the things where I had to think about with expectations and did I want to go through that again?"

Meanwhile, add T.J. Simers to the list of Times columnists who say the hiring of Mike D'Antoni over Jackson was a mistake. Bill Plaschke, who earlier columnized on that, tonight goes further and calls the Lakers "a drifting, dysfunctional mess" and blames the Busses, Jerry and Jim, for "bungling" the coaching change. Plus this:

And, oh yeah, they just signed a deal to place most of their games on a television network that millions of their fans cannot watch.

Jackson, by the way, implies in the interview that he and Jeannie Buss are still "partners," as he puts it.

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