T.J. SIMERS

If Jeanie Buss ran the show, could Phil Jackson's return be far behind?

Jackson, the former Lakers coach, is talking a lot these days about the team. Although he says he's not going to coach again, a big-time front-office job appeals to him. Should Jim Buss be worried?

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Lakers

Let's take this a step further.

The two basketball experts in town, Magic and Plaschke, have declared Jeanie Buss should be in charge of the Lakers.

This has to be a blow to Jimmy Buss, who probably understands he also won't be Phil Jackson's choice as best man.

But if Jeanie Jackson is running the Lakers, whom do you think she would like to hire as team president?

She's already interviewed him repeatedly, they have experience carpooling to work and I can't imagine she'd be crazy about the idea of getting married and leaving Phil at home alone in the hot tub.

Or worse, as The Times' Mike Bresnahan has reported, there's the possibility Phil might take a similar position in Seattle if the Kings move there.

Now let's see, would Phil be more interested in living in an apartment in Seattle working for the Kings or staying with his wife and overseeing the Lakers?

He's already talking about the Lakers, choosing to talk with Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum in a published interview Tuesday.

McCallum was an interesting choice. McCallum wrote "Seven Seconds or Less," the book on Mike D'Antoni's Suns.

I wonder if Phil was pumping McCallum for info about the coach who might be working for him next season.

When McCallum asked Phil if he would be coaching again, Jackson replied, "I'm not coaching.

"But I do hold out the idea that there's some influence in the game I could have," mentioning Red Auerbach, Pete Newell and Wayne Embry.

He said he doesn't like the term "GM," adding, "vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel is more like it."

If so, I wonder where Jimmy will be selling cars next year.

The interview with Phil, coupled with one Mitch Kupchak did on radio Wednesday morning. suggests Mitch the GM and Phil the prospective VP of basketball operations/director of player personnel are already in sync.

In a terrific interview with ESPN's Colin Cowherd, Kupchak made it clear as Jackson had to McCallum, they both love Dwight Howard.

Kupchak was already talking about hanging Howard's retired jersey on the wall, saying he "deserves to be" mentioned with the top names in Lakers history. There were moments when Kupchak just lost it under Cowherd's intense grilling.

Kupchak also said the day is coming when there will be a statue of Howard outside Staples, while making it clear Howard is the future of the franchise.

I guess that answers the question of whether the Lakers have any interest in trading him or are concerned he might sign elsewhere this off-season.

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