Earlier today I noted a Monday D.C. radio report that indicated Phil Jackson has already been told by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss that if he wishes to return to coach the team next season, he will have to take a 60 percent pay cut from his current salary.
During a Monday appearance on WTEM-AM in D.C., ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said:
“I was told yesterday that Phil Jackson’s been told that not only will he not be making $12 million dollars next year, it’s going to be a $5 million dollar cap on his salary.”
Before Game 2 of the Suns-Lakers playoff game on Wednesday night, Jackson was asked about Wilbon’s claim.
Asked if he has already been told he will get no more than $5 million next season, Jackson said: “No, I have not.”
Jackson added before the game that, “It’s been indicated there will be a salary cut but not … I’m not going to say ‘down,’ that’s kind of weird to say stuff like that.”
What will be most interesting in this situation is if the Lakers don’t win the NBA title this season. If the team does claim a second straight ring, it’s reasonable to think that Jackson would have the leverage to get a salary from team owner Buss that is at least in the neighborhood of his current $12 million per season deal.
But if the Lakers lose to the Suns or in the NBA Finals, that salary negotiation leverage will certainly diminish, which Jackson himself has acknowledged.
If Jackson was indeed asked to take a deep pay cut, would he return under those circumstances or look outside Los Angeles for a bigger payday?
I’ve no idea, but I’m willing to guess that possibility has Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov a temporary Phoenix Suns fan.