Raptors Reportedly Pursue Phil Jackson As President In Reunion With Leiweke
The Raptors, who are "emboldened by the news" that the NBA Kings "apparently won't be moving to Seattle, have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson to be their new team president," according to sources cited by Stein & Shelburne of ESPN.com. Sources said that the Raptors "regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch." Sources also said that the Raptors "will be pursuing Jackson aggressively this week, believing that they rank as Jackson's most attractive current option for a new career in management now that he can reunite" with MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke. Raptors President & GM Bryan Colangelo is "scheduled to meet with the MLSE board next week in hopes of convincing his bosses to pick up the option year on his contract" (ESPN.com, 4/30). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger cites a source as saying that Jackson "will listen to a pitch" from the Raptors, but also "wants to explore options with other potential suitors." A source said that Jackson is "keeping his options open but seems to prefer a role similar to [Basketball HOFer] Jerry West's advisory role with the Golden State Warriors over a team presidency" similar to that of Heat President Pat Riley. Jackson has "grown more open-minded in recent weeks to entertaining any and all offers to employ him in an influential capacity." Sources said that several teams "already have reached out through backchannels, and Jackson plans to listen to them all." The "key component of a potential Jackson return would be the ability to hire a head coach who would implement his vision" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/30).