Jackson-to-Orlando discussions still alive after new front office proposal
Contrary to reports, Phil Jackson and Orlando are still in talks for a front office job
In a new proposal, Jackson would work remotely and Brian Shaw would be coach
Magic CEO Alex Martins appears to be against the proposal; ownership is conflicted
The pitch for Phil Jackson to run the Orlando Magic isn't dead just yet.
Five days after the Orlando Sentinel reported that the former Lakers and Bulls coach with 11 championship rings had "bowed out" of a plan to be the lead personnel man for the Magic, two sources close to the situation told SI.com that a revised version of the proposal that still included Jackson's involvement was submitted to the team Tuesday morning.
Former Charlotte coach Sam Vincent, who played for the Bulls during Jackson's days as an assistant in Chicago and also played for the Magic, continues to captain the cause that would have Jackson work remotely (likely from Los Angeles, where his longtime girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, remains with the Lakers) most of the time. Vincent would operate in a front-office role in the plan, while the team would be coached by a protégé (or two) of Jackson's.
According to the sources, the latest version of the proposal has Pacers assistant and ex-Lakers assistant Brian Shaw coaching the team and Hall of Famer and Bulls ambassador Scottie Pippen as the lead assistant. And as if Jackson's potential price tag wasn't daunting enough (he earned $12 million in his last year with the Lakers), one of the sources said he is asking for a slice of minority ownership in the franchise. The hope, of course, would be for Jackson to use his cachet to persuade Dwight Howard to remain in Orlando for the long term. Jackson's agent, Todd Musburger, did not return a call for comment.
Yet fascinating as the proposal might be, Magic CEO Alex Martins appears to be against the idea of having an absentee leader -- no matter how many rings he has. In the plan, Jackson would work in Orlando one week out of every month and agree to make six community appearances every month, according to one of the sources. Martins has been looking for a general manager of a very different ilk since firing Otis Smith on May 21, preferring someone who, among other qualities, would be in the office daily.
The Magic are nearing the end to their GM search, but sources said there's no clear front-runner. The candidates include San Antonio vice president and assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey, former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower, Oklahoma City executives Troy Weaver and Rob Hennigan, and former Portland general manager and Indiana executive Kevin Pritchard.
It's not known how the DeVos family that owns the Magic sees Jackson's potential candidacy. On the one hand, Jackson's pedigree and unparalleled profile has to be intriguing as a possible way of holding on to Howard, who has one year remaining on his contract. On the other, Howard could be seen as a lost cause by the Magic if -- as was the case leading up to the most recent trade deadline -- he's unlikely to be persuaded no matter who's recruiting him. Sources close to Howard continue to say that he wants out and has no plans to re-sign with Orlando.