The Nets took it a step further than the Knicks and actually contacted Phil Jackson on Monday, a source confirmed to the Daily News, hoping to gauge the Zen Master’s interest in returning to the sidelines. A day earlier, Nets GM Billy King called Jackson “one of the best coaches,” and then followed through on his word by reaching out to the 11-time champion. Jackson, 67, has previously said he doesn’t want to coach but would consider running a franchise from a front-office position. He recently battled prostate cancer, but appears to be eager to get back into the game – having been working with the Pistons as a temporary advisor to their coaching search. Contacted by the Daily News on Monday, Jackson’s agent said he would not comment on his client’s interest in the Brooklyn gig — which is only notable because the January response was he was not interested. The ex-Knick finished his playing career with two seasons as a Net (1978-80). A league source said Jackson is so far the only candidate officially contacted in the Nets’ search, and the fact he was reached first is a clear indication the 11-time champion is the top priority. But there are other names to sift through if Jackson decides that Mikhail Prokhorov’s rubles aren’t worth the trouble. Mike Dunleavy, a Brooklyn product and former Coach of the Year, has been lobbying for the job, noting in December the gig would be his “dream come true.” Dunleavy’s name initially emerged in December, and gained momentum because of his roots as a star for Nazareth HS in the early ’70s. Sources had conflicting stories as to whether Dunleavy has had discussions with King about the job, and where he stands on the GM’s priority list. One source said Dunleavy had emerged as a real dark horse in a race with higher-profile names.
Nets contact Phil Jackson about head coach position
New York Daily News | May 7