Would Hiring Phil Jackson Help Bring LeBron James Back to Cleveland Cavaliers?


According to ESPN, the Cleveland Cavaliers have made contact with Phil Jackson about their open head coaching position. If hired, Jackson would instantly make Cleveland a more popular free-agent destination.

Popular enough to lure back LeBron James?

Former Cavs head coach Mike Brown has let it be known that he is open to discussing a possible return to Cleveland, according to the Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer. Brown confirmed that he had not been contacted by Cleveland management, which has started a search to replace former head coach Byron Scott. He was fired after compiling a three-year record of 64-166.

Both Jackson and Brown seem to be confusing candidates.

Brown because he coached the Cavaliers from 2005-2010 and was fired following LeBron James’ departure from Cleveland in the 2010 offseason. It seemed as if firing him was the team’s way of welcoming in a new era—basically pressing the reset button.

What would rehiring Brown do for the team?

The supposed interest in Jackson makes plenty of sense from the Cavs side of things. He has 11 NBA championships to his name and has never had a season in which his team missed the playoffs, let alone had a losing record.

However, Jackson has taken just two different head coaching jobs in his time in the NBA.

First, in 1989, he signed up to coach a Chicago Bulls team with Michael Jordan entering his prime. In 1999, he took on the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching gig and rode the tandem of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to three straight NBA titles.

After a year away from the sideline, he returned in 2005 to again coach the Lakers. Shaq may have departed, but the Lakers still had Kobe Bryant, who by then had emerged as an MVP-caliber talent.

Clearly, Jackson is not experienced in a rebuilding team.

Joining the Cavaliers would not only be out of the ordinary; it would be downright stunning. Cleveland’s Luke Walton—who played under Jackson in Los Angeles—said, “I would be surprised if he came to this young of a team.”

Although unlikely, Cleveland is interested. As a coach or front-office consultant, bringing in one of the most respected figures in the NBA would do wonders for the franchise. And this Cavaliers team has some pieces to work with.

Aside from Kyrie Irving, who may well be the best point guard in the league in the near future, they have Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao, buckets of cap space and eight draft picks in the next two drafts (including three first-rounders).

Add Jackson to the mix in some capacity, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where a team has more potential for greatness.

LeBron, being a student of the game, knows what Jackson brings to the table. Jackson has coached three of the best players of the past two decades, and adding LeBron to that list would be another notch on his NBA belt.

Though just speculation at this point, LeBron and Jackson in Cleveland could be mutually beneficial.