Found April 18, 2013 on The Detroit Sports Site:
Phil Jackson might want away from speaking engagements and back into basketball. The Detroit Pistons could offer him exactly what he’s looking for. (Barbara Green, Flickr) With all of the rumors swirling about the futures of Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank, basketball fans learned another interesting, perhaps related tidbit on Wednsday afternoon. The “Zen Master” Phil Jackson is reportedly “itching” to return to basketball by his own admission, and he’s most interested in a role like Pat Riley has with the Miami Heat. Jackson wants to be a general manager, czar, team builder type. After accomplishing everything possible on the sidelines, now, he wants to sit in a comfy suite and help craft a basketball winner. Hmm. Tom Gores, a Beverly Hills businessman and basketball fan familiar with Jackson’s local California brand (after all, he sat courtside at Los Angeles Laker games) should be all eyes and ears. Just days after admitting he was bitterly disappointed in his Detroit Pistons, targeting Jackson as the man to turn around the team could be just the big domino move the franchise needs to finally get everything back on the right track. Facts, no matter how troubling, are still facts. The folks at Three Championship Drive are facing their most critical period in some time. Winning basketball has long gone away, and there’s been no noteworthy outside moves to create buzz a for the Pistons. Without victories, or at the very least, something to create public excitement about the brand, ticket sales will still stuffer and the team will remain irrelevant in their own market. The only thing that can save this grounded ship is a bold basketball coup, be it in the form of a big name general manager, coach or solid free agent signing. Jackson perhaps willing to listen on the open market gives Gores and the Pistons the most attainable, best chance at the first such move. Why would Detroit appeal to Jackson? From the standpoint of a potential general manager, the team isn’t as far away as many would think. Down low, Greg Monroe is a solid building block with Andre Drummond, who’s shown flashes of brilliance. Brandon Knight has vast untapped potential in the backcourt. They’ve got a few role players necessary for success in Kyle Singler, Will Bynum and Khris Middleton. There’s also the tempting matter of cap space, which the Pistons will have plenty of this summer. Sweeping out dead wood might not be difficult, and someone with Jackson’s league credo could work to entice new free agents who wouldn’t have initially given Detroit a second look. The days of the “Bad Boys” are over and not coming back, and it’s up to Gores to realize that. All regimes eventually fizzle out, and Dumars had a nice run in Detroit. It shouldn’t change the fact that now is his time to go. His final last chance should have been this season. With better results, Dumars and Frank could have made a better argument for keeping their jobs, but at this point, both should go down together in the wake of another major seasonal disappointment. Given the variables listed above, the perfect time to start from total scratch and make major moves is right now. Gores still must prove he’s financially committed to bringing a winner to Detroit, and bagging a name like Jackson would be a start in that quest. For his first two seasons as owner, he’s been financially hamstrung given the sale of the team, multiple bad contracts and other variables. With that behind him, this offseason should be go time for Gores on crafting his own legacy. It’s a legacy that could begin with one move that would steal plenty of NBA headlines and infuse new life into a proud franchise which has become forgotten. Give Jackson the complete control he wants. Let him dabble on the sidelines, should he wish. Any of that would beat sleeping through another 50 loss season with Dumars and Coach X, Y or Z. It’s obvious Gores has the resources and the possible connections to explore this move. Providing he’s also got the guts and impetus, the Zen Master and Detroit could form a new version of basketball Ch’i. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
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