LOS ANGELES – Phil Jackson acknowledged Wednesday night that he has been asked to take a pay cut next season if he returns to coach the Lakers, a sign that even one of the most prolific and financially successful franchises in the NBA is watching the bottom line.
In response to recent reports that Jackson has been asked to take a salary reduction from $12 million to $5 million, Jackson said, “Yes, it’s been indicated that there will be a salary cut.” But he wouldn’t go so far as to say it would be as drastic as has been reported – and even hinted that he’d be OK with making significantly less money.
“It’s still a ridiculous salary, whatever it is,” Jackson said.
Given that Jackson, 64, is approaching retirement age, talk of a pay cut could be largely semantics. A significant portion of his income next season could be deferred in the form of retirement benefits, which he would be able to access in a couple of years without penalties. But the notion that even a coach with 10 titles would consider accepting a reduction in salary was only the latest twist in the puzzle that is Jackson’s future.
Jackson said in a radio interview airing Monday that his chances of retiring after the season were “pretty good.” He later backed away from those comments, saying he isn’t leaning one way or another. If his annual postseason physical comes back OK, a couple of other issues could weigh on Jackson’s mind. First, Kobe Bryant recently signed a three-year, $84 million extension, presumably with the belief that Jackson would continue to be his coach. Also, Jackson has publicly stated that he’d be reluctant to walk away after persuading owner Dr. Jerry Buss to sign sixth man Lamar Odom to a three-year, $25 million extension.