Phil Jackson outlines Mike Brown’s biggest challenge for Lakers
Phil Jackson has kept mostly a low profile during his post-retirement life. He’s spent time at his lakeside home in Montana and Jackson has lived with his longtime companion, Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss, in Los Angeles. But as far as attending Lakers games and appearing in the public spotlight? He’s mostly stayed out of it.
Jackson emerged from his meditative state, however, during a radio appearance Friday on ESPN Chicago’s Waddle and Silvy. Naturally, he was peppered about the Lakers, most notably what will mark Mike Brown’s biggest challenge in handling a star-studded roster featuring Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace.
“It’s finding a role that each player can move towards and be comfortable in,” Jackson said. “I think that’s how you want to feel. You want Steve to have the ability to have the ball with confidence that he is doing
the right thing and feeling like he can run the team and getting the ball to Kobe in critical situations is
important because that’s what his best role is standing out in the moments of crisis or the moments that
are critical. And the inclusion that you have to have to make Howard feel a part of it. So all those guys
have to find a little role. “
Jackson took particularly aim at how Pau Gasol will fit in Brown’s revamped system that will include elements of the Princeton offense.
“Pau Gasol can fit any of those roles, so he doesn’t have any trouble fitting that role,” Jackson said. “He’s not identified with just scoring, so he’ll be all right, whatever they try to run. I think that is going to be the key.”
Jackson didn’t mention World Peace, who has arrived in training camp in better shape and weighing 255 pounds, a steep drop-off from the 274 pounds he said he weighed last season.
Jackson also shared concerns on the Lakers’ veteran-laden roster. Bryant (34), Nash (38), Gasol (32) and World Peace (32) could apply for the NBA’s AARP card. Brown has touted the importance of limiting their minutes and fully utilizing the revamped bench that includes secondary scoring (Antawn Jamison) and three-point shooting (Jodie Meeks).
“They gotta watch the wear and tear that goes on because the end result is what counts,” Jackson said. “It’s not the first 100 yards of the season so to speak.”
But Jackson’s interview mostly touched on how the Lakers would sort out the offensive dynamic. He seemed particularly intrigued the Lakers would run parts of the Princeton system since its ball movement, cutting and passing presents similarities to his triangle offense. Jackson believed Nash would be key in ensuring the system runs well.
“He is a guy that can kinda make it easier for Howard to be a player inside,” Jackson said. “As Pau can move around in the post and move up to the high post and he can be an outside defender that can help out in a variety of screen-roll activities that maybe Howard might get himself in foul trouble having to defend all the time. So they’ll be able to do a lot of things with a more mobile and quicker Pau Gasol. This is a team that you have to find an offense that is going to work and include everybody because Kobe dominates the ball and Steve Nash dominates the ball.
“Then you’ve got player that need to get the ball in good spots to work for their offense. That’s Gasol obviously in a couple spots, low and high post. Howard really is a low post player, he needs that ball in the post.”
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