Report: Raptors to aggressively pursue Phil Jackson

It's been clear since his near reunion with the Lakers back in November that Phil Jackson wants to return to basketball. The "itch" is there, and after his weird entry into the twitter-world, it seems as though Phil is ready to come back in time for next season.

Ever since Jackson was passed over by the Lakers he has said that he is done with coaching, but has recently expressed interest in a Pat Riley type President role with a team. With that in mind the Toronto Raptors appear ready to put the full court press on Phil, and are ready to hand him full control of basketball operations. From Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne's article.

The Toronto Raptors, emboldened by the news that the Sacramento 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 close to the situation.

Sources told that the Raptors -- now being run by former Los Angeles-based sports mogul Tim Leiweke -- regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.

But now that the Kings appear poised to stay in Sacramento instead of being sold to the consortium led by Jackson fan Chris Hansen, sources say 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 Leiweke.

One source close to the situation told that Hansen and Jackson have "hit it off," sparking league-wide speculation that Jackson would be offered the chance to run the new Sonics in Seattle in the Pat Riley-style role he craves. But with a 12-owner committee recommending Monday that the Kings' move to Seattle be blocked, Toronto's seemingly long-shot odds of winning the Jackson sweepstakes would figure to have received a boost.

That's largely because of Jackson's longstanding friendship with Leiweke, who was introduced Friday as the new CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which oversees the NBA's Raptors, NHL's Maple Leafs and Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.

Basically the article is saying that if Sacramento had jumped to Seattle, Jackson probably would have joined "New Soincs" owner Chris Hansen (not Chris Hanson) in Seattle, but with the Kings staying put, the door has been opened for the Raptors.

Considering Jackson is now 67 years old, his move from the coaching ranks to a Godfather type role with a franchise makes sense. With that said..I don't believe him.

According to just about every report out there, Jackson was ready to join the Lakers as coach less than six months ago before Jim Buss decided to hire Mike D'Antoni and make his own mark on the franchise. That's why it's tough for me to believe this January article (published just two months after Jackson's near return to the Lakers) saying that Jackson had "no interest in ever returning to coaching". Umm, what changed in those two months? Personally I think that Phil, one of the great coaches of all time, was simply embarrassed by the Lakers rejection and tried to make it seem like he was actually the one saying no.

That's why I personally have the opinion that Phil is holding out for the perfect coaching job, and the chance to add to his record 11 titles. Over the past few months it's becoming more and more clear what that job is - head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Think about the Clippers current situation.

- They're currently on the verge of being a championship contender but are being held back by (among other things) a below average coach in Vinny del Negro. Phil would change that.

- Their best player, Chris Paul, is hitting free agency following the season and will, for all intents and purposes, be given the ability to choose his next coach. Who wouldn't choose Phil?

- They share a building with the Lakers, who are currently wrapping up the most disappointing season in NBA history. Hiring the best coach in Lakers history while they are still dealing with D'Antoni would complete the transformation from little brother to big brother, and simultaneously destroy the souls of all Lakers fans.

- As mentioned above, the Lakers passed on Jackson for D'Antoni in November. What better way to stick it to Jim Buss (remember, longtime Jackson friend and former Lakers owner Jerry Buss passed away in February, and the team is now run by his son) than to take over the team that shares a building with him? If the Lakers thought the "WE WANT PHIL!" chants were bad this season..imagine them with Jackson on the opposite sideline? Yikes.

Now perhaps Jackson really does want to start a new chapter in his career, and is over the whole coaching thing. But as of now I think that's more of a cover for his next real move..taking over the Clippers and making LA a Clippers town for good (or at least for like five seasons).

Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13