So somehow, Seattle getting denied the Sacramento leftovers has now refueled all that Phil Jackson speculation.
With the Raptors not having any playoff news, let alone much of a team, it's fun to imagine.
Nevertheless, I don't think think it's as far off as some people might think but I also don't believe there's anything more than speculative inference right now from the media.
But, it's fun, so let's go through a thought exercise.
Here's my thought:
Phil Jackson wants to be Pat Riley.
Now laugh all that you want about Toronto and Miami being worlds apart, but I don't think for a second that Phil Jackson is looking to control a team on a coaching level. Regardless of what you think of him as a coach, that's not a topic worth talking about since it has very little to do with running the office.
But I want to go back to Pat Riley for a moment. Riley was an extremely successful coach who was looking for his next conquest. He wanted to parlay all his basketball acumen and use it to bring a team to winning basketball. Of course, he would have to go back to the coaching bench one more time to secure Miami's first championship, but now, all the talk is about how he's become the king of the front office.
I'm sure Phil Jackson has looked on and thought about challenging him for the throne.
So let's look at why this makes sense:
1) Phil Jackson has a CEO who will back him 110% - We all know about the relationship between Tim Leiweke and Phil Jackson, and if Phil was looking for a position where he could have his run of things, Toronto would be a good bet. Basketball operations would run unopposed in MLSE, and there's plenty of example to go around from the Colangelo era that there can be almost a "hands off" attitude at times about anything basketball related.
2) Deep pockets - To win, you have to be able to spend. It may sound silly, but both Rogers and Bell are willing to do that when the chips are down. Rogers has done so already with the Blue Jays, and Bell has done so when they restructured their infrastructure from 3G/LTE wireless all the way down to fiber-wire running throughout the city. We may not have seen the pocketbooks open up for the Raptors in our time so far, but I'd argue that there hasn't been a reason to do so. Also, new owners!
3) Phil gave his recommendation for Toronto to Tim Leiweke - Whatever you may say about the cold, Phil Jackson did give us a thumbs up when Tim Leiweke talked to him. Play that as you will, but I think you can discount all this talk about how Phil doesn't like cold weather. If Phil Jackson gave Toronto the thumbs up to Tim, I doubt he would have much issue coming up here himself.
Now as a skeptic, here's where it falls apart for me, and that's not even going into the fact that this is all still rumour.
1) There's a long road ahead for this Raptors franchise - Some might say that this is a plus, in that there are no sacred cows in Toronto. However, there's not a lot to work with either. Remember how Wayne Embry cleaned house before Bryan Colangelo came in and spent all of that hard work in one season? There's probably at least one or two more seasons of that before this team gets into a position where it can invest in assets again.
2) Playing second fiddle - Yes, the Jays were the talk of the town, but remember, it's not like they're in direct conflict with the Maple Leafs' regular season schedule. There's no doubt that there's an appetite for basketball in this city, and MLSE wants both basketball and hockey to be successful to maximize their profits. However, there's also no doubt that the fight to change the conversation from hockey to basketball is a long, hard fight. I'm just not sure that's a headache Phil wants.
3) We aren't in the US - Whatever you might say about Phil Jackson thinking Toronto is a great city, there's always that extra bit where we aren't the US. Basketball might be second fiddle to hockey, but Toronto is second fiddle to the entire NBA. Yes, Phil Jackson himself will make waves, but attracting talent both on and off the court is just going to mean that much extra work. Is it worth it? That's for him to judge.
Regardless, this topic is far from dead and I'm sure there's going to be a lot more discussion. At the very least, this is an exciting change from thinking about living under Bryan Colangelo's reign of terror for another season.