The city of Los Angeles as well as fans of the Los Angeles Lakers across the planet were in a state of shock on Monday as reality started to settle in. The Lakers campaign came to an embarrassing end on Sunday as they were swept in the second round of the Playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks. This was not how the season was supposed to play out as the club had been determined to get their third straight NBA Title. Instead they had a tougher than expected first round series against the New Orleans Hornets and then were banished from the Post Season without winning a single game in the second round.
The Lakers are now at a crossroad as head coach Phil Jackson has been hinting very strongly all season long that he would leave the team and the Association at the end of the current season. Of course Jax had expected to go out as a winner; being doused with champagne as he clutched the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Jackson expected to ride off into the sunset at the top of his profession with assistant Brian Shaw or possibly another candidate taking the reins of the squad in the fall.
Now the question becomes with the team falling far short of their goals for this season will Jackson feel the desire to be back on the bench next season? Will Jackson allow his legacy to be tarnished having his last campaign end in such a lackluster fashion; or does he still have the burning need to go out as a winner?
No matter what you are reading or hearing right now only one person knows that answer and that is the Lakers head coach. Los Angeles General Manager Mitch Kupchak can give his opinion as can NBA observers around the globe but it is nothing but speculation; pure and simple.
You may remember that there was lots of talk last season that Jackson would not be back after his team won their second straight Championship. However Jackson at the eleventh hour decided he would hold onto his clipboard and coach the Lakers for another season. There is nothing from stopping him to make the same choice this year.
If Jackson does come back most likely he will have basically the same roster as he did in this season. However if Jackson does go through with retiring the Lakers could be making some major changes on the personnel front during this upcoming off-season. Andrew Bynum is a talented center but is extremely fragile; would Los Angeles be willing to trade him to try to help the team at the point guard slot or at the small forward position? Will Ron Artest be on yet another roster next season after having a mediocre campaign this year?
Until Phil Jackson actually announces that he will not be the bench coach for the Los Angeles Lakers for next season the team’s future is yet to be determined. After he makes his mind up then the Lakers can start to realistically lay out a game plan for next season.