From Marc Stein & Ramona Shelburne
After nearly two seasons in retirement, Phil Jackson has become increasingly interested in working in the NBA next season, according to sources familiar with his thinking.
That doesn't necessarily mean a return to coaching, as Jackson is known to be intrigued by the concept of moving into management for the first time in his career.
But sources told ESPN.com this week that Jackson is "itching" to go back to work after a long spell to recharge since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers' bench following the 2010-11 season.
Sources stressed that there is no specific opportunity in play yet for Jackson, who resisted coaching overtures from the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season and told longtime confidant Charley Rosen in January in a SheridanHoops.com story that he "has no intention of ever coaching again."
But NBA coaching sources say that stance will not dissuade teams with openings from approaching Jackson this offseason to gauge his interest, with the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers -- who interviewed Jackson in 2005 and are known to be contemplating a coaching change -- potentially at the top of the list.
What has Jackson really intrigued, sources say, is the opportunity to oversee an organization in the patriarchal style of Pat Riley with the Miami Heat or in a role similar to that previously held by Larry Bird with the Indiana Pacers.
But it remains to be seen if a team will give him that sort of chance, given that the 67-year-old Jackson is the most successful coach in league history with 11 championship rings and has never held a prominent NBA personnel job.
There's always the chance, sources said, that Jackson will simply stay retired if none of the opportunities that arise proves to be the right fit.
Am I nuts for even remotely thinking WHAT IF & WHY NOT US ??