Bulls gauge Jackson's interest

The Chicago Bulls have reached out to Phil Jackson through back channels
to gauge his interest in returning to the franchise he won six NBA
titles with, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

There has been no direct contact between Bulls officials and Jackson,
according to the sources, but people close to both parties have spoken
and come away with the belief that Jackson would be open to a potential
reunion in Chicago next season.

Gar Forman, the Bulls’ general manager, refused to comment on the club’s coaching search when reached Monday night by telephone.

Chicago could be on the verge of its biggest offseason since the Michael Jordan Era, when Jordan and Jackson led the club to double three-peats from 1991-1993 and 1996-1998.

With roughly $23 million to spend in free agency, the Bulls are one of the more probable landing spots for LeBron James. James is intrigued by the possibility of playing with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, according to sources, and the return of Jackson would only make the Bulls that much more attractive to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ two-time MVP.

Jackson, who is in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, would likely only be interested in coaching Chicago if James signed there. If Jackson and James joined the Bulls, Jackson would have the unparalleled opportunity to have coached Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and James.

The Bulls are one of six teams in the league with a head coaching vacancy and one of several believed to have interest in Jackson.

Jackson, whose Lakers lead the Phoenix Suns 2-1 in the Western Conference finals, has said recently there’s a "90 percent chance" that if he coaches next season it will be with the Lakers. But Lakers owner Jerry Buss reportedly wants Jackson to take a pay cut from the $12 million salary he’s receiving this season.

That could open the door for the Bulls, as well as the Cavaliers or New Jersey Nets, to make a run at Jackson.

The future of the 64-year old coach has been a mystery surrounding the Lakers all season.


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