JACKSON TO LAKERS? Phil Jackson, who coached the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships in the 1990s, has reportedly been offered a four-year deal worth more than $20 million to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson's agent, Todd Musburger, is in "serious negotiations" with the Lakers, Fox Sports News reported Thursday night.The network said a source familiar with the negotiations said the deal could be finalized within the next few days.
"We can't confirm it, we can't deny it," Lakers owner Jerry Buss said of the report following the Los Angeles Sparks' WNBA opener Thursday night at the Forum. "I've been out of town. I've got to talk to Jerry West. We'll see."
West, the team's executive vice president of basketball operations, told the Los Angeles Times the Lakers have explored the possibility of offering the coaching job to Jackson.
However, West said no offer has been made to Jackson, and "it would be wrong to presume a deal was near."
NBA SPANKS MAVS: The NBA responded to Don Nelson's lavish treatment of free-agent forward Gary Trent and his family by fining the Mavericks $25,000 on Thursday for violating the league's salary-cap rules and other provisions of the collective-bargaining agreement.
Two weeks ago, Nelson provided an all-expenses-paid trip to Maui, Hawaii, for Trent and Trent's son, mother, father, fiancee and future mother-in-law. The league said because Trent is a free agent, Nelson was in violation of league rules.
Nelson, the Mavericks' coach and general manager, returned to Dallas on Thursday after a three-day stay in Chicago for the predraft camp. He said he was unaware he had violated any rules when he gave Trent and his family the red-carpet treatment.
BIG BUCKS FOR VAN GUNDY? Jeff Van Gundy is sitting one win away from the NBA Finals and a financial windfall.
If the Knicks defeat the Pacers in either Game 6 on Friday night or Game 7 on Sunday, their embattled head coach will hit a jackpot worth $4 million.
The breakdown works this way: Van Gundy's contract calls for a $3.5 million contract extension for the 2000-01 season to automatically kick in should the Knicks capture the Eastern Conference finals. He also gets a $500,000 bonus for reaching the Finals.
Van Gundy, who is signed for one more year at $2 million, will get an additional $500,000 should the Knicks win the NBA title.
Even if Garden president Dave Checketts decides to fire Van Gundy and replace him with Phil Jackson, the organization will owe Van Gundy $6 million if the Knicks reach the Finals.