Coach Phil Jackson will return to Lakers for another season
By Mike Bresnahan
1:15 PM PDT, July 3, 2009
After a two-day retreat to his lakeside Montana home, Phil Jackson decided to return to the Lakers, agreeing on Friday to come back for a 19th season as an NBA coach.
"After consulting with Lakers team internist Dr. John Moe, I feel confident that I can gainfully pursue an NBA season with another long playoff postseason. All things point to go!" Jackson said in a statement released by the team.
Jackson, who turns 64 in September, completed a battery of medical tests after the season.
He recently won his 10th championship as a coach, passing Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach, and will be coaching his 19th season. He will make $12 million.
Neither Jackson nor the Lakers are currently looking beyond next season.
"The present agreement between Phil and the Lakers runs though the 2009-10 season," said Jackson's agent, Todd Musburger. "There is a comfortable and positive relationship between Phil, Dr. [Jerry] Buss, his sons that are in management, and certainly [General Manager] Mitch Kupchak, that if both sides feel an extension is something they want, then obviously it could happen. But for the moment, there's another terrific season to look forward to and nothing formal planned on seeking answers beyond the coming year."
Jackson missed a game in Portland toward the end of the regular season because of painful swelling in his lower right leg. He also has had both hips replaced and underwent an angioplasty procedure in 2003 to open a clogged artery in his heart.
Musburger expressed relief that Jackson's medical tests all supported a return to the Lakers.
"Obviously, everybody close to Phil is equally thrilled with that news," Musburger said. "He's excited first that his health is what it needs to be. It's going to be an exciting year. This move that they just made [to acquire Ron Artest] is filled with intrigue."
Last month, Phil seemed cautiously optimistic that he would return next season.
"There's a couple appointments I still have that have to be made and fulfilled before I can make that decision," Jackson said at the time. "I'm feeling good. It's been great."