Ahead of Saturday's media day, Phil Jackson, looking spry and sporting a close-cut beard he doesn't anticipate keeping over the course of the year, spent about 40 minutes fielding wide-ranging questions from the media this afternoon in El Segundo. Some highlights:
-Given time to get out of town and think about his future early this summer, the decision to return wasn't difficult. But while Jackson referred once again to this season as his "last stand" -- "I hope it's not like Custer's," he joked -- he wouldn't say definitively if this would indeed be his final year on the bench. Jackson said he has treated each of the past few seasons like it would be his last.
-Jackson assumes Andrew Bynum won't be ready to start of the regular season, but wasn't critical of Bynum's surgical timetable, on which the Lakers were consulted. "We didn’t anticipate this type of repair that was going to be done to his knee, so we had a different little timetable going on," he said. "It was partially Andrew’s situation -- he could have been here early -- it’s part ours, that we could have said 'hey, let’s get it done before you leave.'"
Nor was Jackson bothered Bynum took time to travel. “Andrew had some things in mind. He wanted to go to the World Cup in South Africa. We encouraged him to go there. It’s something that, after an eight-month season, it’s kind of fun for these guys to get out. This was a great occasion. A lot of our players had an opportunity to go, and some took advantage of it, so that was great.”
-Regarding Kobe Bryant's knee, Jackson was more optimistic: "Just recently, Kobe said he’s starting to move and feel the right way, and I anticipate he’s going to play some minutes, even over in Europe.” Luke Walton, however, remains a question mark. The Lakers really don't know what he'll be able to do, whether in camp or through the season because of recurring back problems.
For more, including Jackson's comments on the Miami Super Team!, his thoughts on who should next coach the team, his relationship with Kobe, L.A.'s improved bench, Ron Artest's comfort level in the offense, looking back at last year's Game 7 against Boston, Pau Gasol's busy summer, and the challenges inherent in going for a third straight title, click below.
-Jackson didn't call Brian Shaw his successor, but said he hopes someone from his staff would get the job when he's done. Given Shaw is easily the most viable candidate, it's reasonable to make the connection.
-P.J. playfully wondered if Pau Gasol really did take the summer off. "Every time I got [information], someone sent me out a link or something, [Pau was in it.] Pau was jumping over kids in India. Was he ambassador for the world? Mr. Peace. He should start the Palestine-Israeli peace talks. Pau was everywhere, it seemed like, this summer. Hopefully he has been rested, and is ready to play.”
-Jackson acknowledged accepting a pay cut to return this year. "Dr. Buss and I had talked, even before the Finals, we had a conversation, and he explained to me how he felt. What he felt his responsibility [was], and he asked me to participate in it. I was quite comfortable with his proposition. It wasn’t hard for me to do it. No one likes to lose salary, especially after you win a championship, but it’s part of what’s going on in the game, and it’s part of what’s in the process of getting back and solvent. This team needs to cut some things. Some players have taken less as they go along in the process in this organization, so it made sense.”
Don't worry too much about him, though. Asked if he needed Kobe to loan him a few bucks, Jackson said no. "I think I'll be all right to make it through the year."
Jackson, on the difficulty to win multiple consecutive titles:
Jackson, on the Game 7 win, and the competition in the eastern conference:
Jackson, on the Miami Heat's formation this offseason:
Jackson, on the difficulties facing this season's training camp:
Jackson, on managing minutes for Bryant and Bynum, plus Artest's Game 7 clinching shot: