Is Indiana Pacers assistant head coach Brian Shaw smilng because he is the Detroit Pistons next head coach? Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction: Detroit Pistons Get Phil Jackson and Brian Shaw

I am prepared to make a bold prediction about the Pistons Head Coaching situation.  The Detroit Pistons get Phil Jackson and Brian Shaw.

Before you call me crazy remember I first predicted Phil Jackson’s involvement with the Pistons organization.


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So this is how it will happen. Very soon after the Indiana Pacers are done with the NBA playoffs.  A few quick announcements will be made.

  1. Joe Dumars is fired as President of Basketball Operations
  2. Phil Jackson is hired as President of Basketball Operations
  3. Brian Shaw is hired as Pistons Head Coach.

Think all of this is a shot in the dark?  Not exactly.

Since I began writing about the fantasy of Phil Jackson coming to the Detroit Pistons. Events seem to be unfolding in a way that makes this more and more of a possibility.

First of all lets talk about the Zen Master. Here are key events before the Pistons coaching search began.

  • The Lakers fire Mike Brown six games into the season.
  • Phil Jackson was considered for the job but The Lake Show hired Mike Dantoni instead.
  • In April,  Jackson started floating the idea of returning to the NBA
  • During the Lakers Playoff series Jackson tweets about Lakers performance further fueling speculation about a return to the bench.

Jackson recently filled in some of the details of his talks with various NBA teams on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Jackson revealed that he was offered the Lakers job but asked for a few days to think about it.  The Lakers then snubbed him by hiring Mike Dantoni and leaked to the media that Jackson had unreasonable demands related to his return.

Then there is the sale Sacramento Kings.  Early in May, the Sacramento Kings were going to be sold to a group interested in moving the team to Seattle.  Phil Jackson recently revealed that he was in serious talks with the ownership group about a position in the front office. After the final deal for the Kings was announced and it was determined the team would stay in Sacramento, Phil Jackson was no longer interested. Critics of Jackson have always maintained that he would never go to a team unless they were ready to make a run. So why was  Phil Jackson willing to take over a rebuilding new Seattle Supersonics team?  Jackson’s interest in a new Seattle Supersonics franchise seems to contradict that.

Then there is the job offers he has already had. Phil Jackson has turned down offers from Brooklyn, Cleveland and Toronto.  The offer from Brooklyn was for coaching something Jackson insists he is done with.  However the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors were offering opportunities in the front office.  Opportunities Jackson has yet to address publicly.

In fact the only “job” Phil Jackson has accepted was advisor to Joe Dumars in his coaching search.  The Zen Master defined his relationship with the Pistons on an interview with Mike and Mike.

I’m doing pro bono work for the Detroit owner and the Pistons organization, which is almost a conflict of interest when you think of the Bulls and Pistons in the ’90s and the rivalry that we had. But they have a young owner that wants to do something different.”

It is interesting that Jackson didn’t mention working with Joe Dumars.  A curious omission from a smooth operator when it come to the media.

In my own experience as a consultant, owners normally don’t take away major parts of an employees job unless they don’t trust them to do their job.  My assumption is the Phil Jackson was brought in to observe the coaching search and give an opinion to Tom Gores on the process.  We have to remember that Tom Gores himself comes from the world of corporate takeovers and management restructuring. So moves like this would be something Gores already is comfortable and very familiar with.

So what does all this mean for the Pistons?  Well to nutshell it:

  • Jackson has a relationship with Tom Gores owner of the Detroit Pistons.
  • Jackson is brought in to “advise” Joe Dumars on who the next coach should be
  • Jackson already has a hand-picked candidate, Brian Shaw.
  • Jackson’s relationship with Shaw could deliver him to the Pistons.
  • A Jackson/Shaw alliance would be a very attractive bargaining chip for any free agent come the July 1st signing period.
  • Tom Gores is a Billionaire, He can afford both Jackson and Shaw.

So why hasn’t Gores made the move to hire Phil Jackson yet.

It is in his best interest not to.

Brian Shaw is not available until after the playoffs.  Firing Dumars and hiring Jackson before Shaw is finished with his obligation to the Pacers would put enormous pressure on him and open the Pistons up to tampering penalties. It is best to wait until after Shaw is free, then make the moves quickly.  The timing would reduce any backlash from firing the Pistons Hall of Famer and help the team quickly transition into a new era.

It is my belief that Phil Jackson and Brian Shaw to the Pistons is not only possible but inevitable. The balls are already in motion. After the Pacers are through with the Playoffs.  The dominos will start falling.


Tags: Brian Shaw Detroit Pistons Phil Jackson

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