Raptors to take run at Phil Jackson?

Former NBA head coach Phil Jackson. (LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters)

Former NBA head coach Phil Jackson. (LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:11 PM ET

TORONTO - Phil Jackson, Raptors employee?

Don’t laugh. The arrival of new Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and chief executive officer Tim Leiweke on Friday set the rumour mill in motion with one of the most stunning ideas imaginable.

Leiweke and Jackson, the legendary head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers and owner of 11 championship rings, are pals, having worked together in Los Angeles. Jackson is also looking for a new challenge as an executive since his days on the sidelines might be over.

Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo has an option year remaining on his contract that has yet to be picked up, but that was expected to be a mere formality prior to the announcement of Leiweke’s hiring.

However, ESPN’s Marc Stein indicated Friday that while that was the case, things might now change.

“Been hearing rumbles all week Raptors were planning to make run at Phil Jackson to offer team presidency Phil craves. All makes sense now,” Stein tweeted.

“Hiring of Tim Leiweke to run Raps & Leafs gives Toronto’s basketball team major player with LA ties who can make pitch Phil will listen to.”

Stein later wrote the Raptors would have considerable competition from other teams for Jackson's services, even if he says he will not return to coaching.

Sacramento’s potential new ownership group -- which plans to move the Kings to Seattle should it get relocation approved -- is also high on Jackson, according to Stein.

The main criticism of Jackson over the years is that he only won because he was gifted with historically great talent. Joining the Raptors, a playoff squad only five times in 18 years, would be akin to going about as far off type as possible.


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