This is mostly for posterity, and to acknowledge something that will be out there until the Knicks hire a coach. Deep within this excellent Ramona Shelburne report on Phil Jackson's state of mind, his fallout with Derek Fisher, and the future of his team(s) is this saucy little nugget:
Those close to him say Jackson seems more energized these days. He has lost about 20 pounds of the 30 he gained during his first two years on the job. Even Kobe Bryant noticed, remarking after Sunday's game in Los Angeles that, "He looks great. Physically he looks good. I'm happy for him."
There's even talk Jackson could offer to coach home games next season, with Rambis coaching the road games.
Though I already see people obsessing over it, that is as close to nothing as reports come. Shelburne is very reliable, but she's careful to couch this particular idea with a "there's even talk," which could mean anything. We're talking about it right now! There's even talk!
And of course that gently reported whiff of a notion that Jackson might half-coach should disappear under the weight of Jackson's repeated assertion that he won't coach:
Phil on whether he considered returning to bench: "Not for a second. ... The instinct was there, but it's beyond my physical capabilities."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) February 8, 2016
Melo: "(Phil's) doing front-office work now. It’s not the same relationship. Phil’s not coming down [to coach]. Those days are long gone.’’— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) February 24, 2016
(Although if it's just physical limitations keeping Phil off the sideline and he's way more energized now .... NO shut up shut up shut up shut up)
The point is this, I guess: Shelburne's piece is the first to lend any legitimacy to the possibility of Jackson coaching, and it does so in the vaguest possible terms after multiple years' worth of firm statements that he won't. (The idea of Phil half-coaching once got shut down in LA, for what it's worth.) We're guaranteed, though, to keep hearing about "HOME PHIL, ROAD RAMBIS!?!?!?" for the next couple months, just as we will every other wild rumor that emerges, because this is Phil Jackson and this is the Knicks and anything can happen. Even something wholly unprecedented.
The way expectations have built, it feels like the *least* likely scenario is Phil interviewing a bunch of qualified candidates and hiring the strongest one. I'd put better odds on Phil promoting an unheralded assistant, hiring a well-dressed goat that ate an entire copy of "The Triple-Post Offense," or uploading his consciousness to a Zordon-style light tube installed on the sideline than I would on a normal coaching search. Since joining the Knicks, though, Jackson's had a habit of doing something simple and practical after months of speculation otherwise. It seemed near-impossible that the Knicks would just draft the apparent best player available in June, and yet we have Kristaps in our life. And now I've talked myself in a circle!
Such are the conditions. So yeah, I can understand why some might run wild with a "there's even talk," and with any other equally wacky rumor to come. The head coach situation is the biggest uncertainty hanging over Phil's Knicks. Hopefully he can tie that up quickly and cleanly.