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The Los Angeles Lakers have a coach in Mike D'Antoni, but do they have what they need? Phil Jackson doesn't seem to think so.
While Jackson has said he has no plans to return to the NBA as a head coach, the 11-time championship-winning coach said he would know what to do with the Lakers if they came asking for help.
"I would find one of my assistant coaches to work with me to help them just as quickly as possible because I know what they need," Jackson said in an interview with "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio on Wednesday.
"I think they need to get back inside, where the strength of their team is and use that presence in there to dominate games. I think there is a way to do that."
Cowherd posited that an inside-oriented approach would not occur with D'Antoni leading the team and Jackson replied, "You're right."
"They picked the path to go on and they think that's the future of the NBA and we'll see," Jackson said. "We'll see if it is."
It took some time last season, but D'Antoni eventually had the Lakers playing through their bigs in Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol and the team finished with a 28-12 record over its final 40 regular-season games.
D'Antoni said he planned to continue to coach the Lakers to play that way.
"Assuming that all the personnel is the same, yes," D'Antoni said during his exit interview with the media in early May. "You try to play to their strengths and it took a while to get there. We had to go through a lot of different scenarios and once we figured it out, it went a lot better."
However, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said at his exit meeting that D'Antoni's preferred open-floor, fast-paced style of play is aligned with the direction the league is heading.
"The trend in the NBA, and the way you're seeing college players and NBA players play, it's very different to what it was 20 to 30 years ago," Kupchak said. "That's probably not going to change. It's an open game, a lot of pick-and-rolls, perimeter shooting. The game has really gravitated to the way Mike coaches, but you have to coach to a great degree to the players you have on the team."
Jackson, who was on "The Herd" promoting his new book "Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success," felt like some of the Lakers' key players were misused this past season.
"It bothers me about the individuals," Jackson said. "It bothers me that Pau [Gasol] had a season that he had so much difficulty, that Kobe [Bryant] had a season in which he had to struggle to help provide the scoring and push himself to the limit where he eventually tore (his) Achilles. Whether that would have happened or not, playing 40-plus minutes a game for that duration of time, who knows?
"It bothers me that a guy that's the level of Dwight Howard has looked human, less than human at times. It hasn't really advanced their game. I think that's the biggest thing about coaching -- you want players to thrive and that's the biggest thing. That's your mission."
Jackson's next move is in his hands. After communicating with Brooklyn, Toronto and the Seattle ownership group about potential job opportunities, the 67-year-old Jackson is still technically retired, outside of what he calls some "pro bono" work helping the Detroit Pistons choose their next head coach, until he lands his next gig.
How will the Hall of Famer's career in basketball eventually wrap up?
"I think I'm probably going to end up like a Tex Winter at some point," Jackson said, referring to his longtime assistant coach who popularized the Triangle offense. "Maybe like a Pete Newell. Pete was on the sidelines for a number of teams for maybe the last 15-20 years of his life where he just encouraged people how to play. He sat with Lenny Wilkens in Cleveland for a number of years. He was a helpful consultant. That might be what I'm left to do -- be a mentor of some sort."