Phil Jackson responds to Mark Cuban’s suggestions

Just when it looked as if Phil Jackson and Mark Cuban were friends again…

The Dallas Mavericks’ owner said he wanted Lakers forward Ron Artest to have the ball in his hands more often and be forced to make more decisions in the complex triangle offense.

The Lakers’ coach responded with a zinger or two for Cuban.

“I know that Mark likes to prick the skin of people, but he’s not a player. He just sits behind the bench with his sun-tanned face and tries to make comments like that,” Jackson said Thursday. “He’s got nothing to do with it. I know that he’s provided a great roster that’s almost as good as money can buy … but not quite.”

Should be plenty of fun if the teams meet in the Western Conference semifinals.

“Anything that puts the ball in Ron Artest’s hands is always a good thing,” Cuban told reporters earlier Thursday. “You can tell him that I’ll even take him out for ice cream. Of all the choices you have on that team, you want Ron Artest making the decisions in the triangle.”

Jackson and Cuban had been civil to each other recently, putting aside their decade-long battle of insults, but that apparently ended.


Dallas guard Jason Terry also did his part to add heat to a mostly sedate Lakers-Mavericks rivalry.

“I don’t think Kobe [Bryant] wants to chase me or Roddy Beaubois around that court all night,” Terry said in an interview with an ESPN radio station in Dallas. “They’re a little older in the backcourt. In five- or six-minute spurts we can cause some havoc out there. It’s definitely an advantage for us.”

Terry was given a flagrant foul two and ejected in the fourth quarter after an altercation with the Lakers’ Steve Blake; Blake was also ejected, along with the Lakers’ Matt Barnes and the Mavericks’ Brendan Haywood.

To be continued in May?


Lamar Odom will be a popular guy in coming weeks, crossing over to mainstream TV with his new reality show, “Khloe & Lamar.”

It will somehow improve Odom’s game, Jackson said.

“Lamar’s doing the show now so he does have to get out there and produce,” he said. “He’s got to get out there and really play.”

But will Odom be able to successfully juggle basketball and Hollywood?

“It’s going to be great,” Jackson said. “He’ll balance it out after he learns how to swim.”

In a different reality show last year with the Kardashian family, Odom tried to learn how to swim.

The new show debuts April 10 on the E! network.

Good citizen

Artest was one of four finalists for a citizenship award determined by pro basketball reporters.

It’s true.

It was Artest’s latest step in shedding an image sullied by the infamous Palace Brawl in 2004.

He has made a crusade of increasing awareness for mental health issues and raised about $600,000 by raffling off his 2010 championship ring last December. Artest donated the money to various mental health causes.

Orlando center Dwight Howard, Portland center Marcus Camby and Chicago swingman Kyle Korver are also finalists for the award, which will be announced during the playoffs and is chosen by members of the Pro Basketball Writers Assn.

Ratliff back

Reserve center Theo Ratliff has been cleared to play after several setbacks with his left knee.

Ratliff, 37, has not played since Nov. 9 and is averaging 0.3 points and 1.6 rebounds.