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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Knicks Pursuing Phil Jackson

The New York Knicks are offering Phil Jackson a front office role … Kobe Bryant believes Pau Gasol will return to Lakers … Nerlens Noel makes progress

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Knicks Pursuing Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson has been offered a front office position with the Knicks and is expected to give the club a decision sometime next week, the Daily News has learned.

According to an NBA source, Garden Chairman James Dolan has met with Jackson about a potential return to the franchise where he was a member of the Knicks’ only two championship teams. Jackson also won 11 titles as a head coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers but apparently has no interest in coaching the Knicks.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that Knicks president Steve Mills offered the head coaching position to Jackson but he declined. Jackson has on numerous occasions ruled out returning to the bench. However, the 68-year-old Hall of Fame coach has said publicly that he would like to move into a front office and run a team.

via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

Phil Jackson has made it clear that he doesn’t want to coach anymore. Instead, he wants to follow in Pat Riley’s footsteps and make the transition to the front office.

It’s unclear what position the Knicks are offering Jackson within their front office, but bringing in such an excellent basketball mind can only help the organization. It would also help them during this crucial span over the next several years when they’ll be trying to attract star players to New York to play alongside (or replace) Carmelo Anthony.

Jackson, who is 68, has history with the Knicks organization as they were the team that drafted him back in 1967 and he played with the franchise through 1978. The two titles that Jackson won as a player came during his time with the Knicks.

Jackson has reportedly had similar conversations with other organizations, so the Knicks may have some competition for his services. With that said, it sounds like he’s mulling the offer and a decision is expected in the next several days.

Kobe Bryant Believes Pau Gasol Will Return to L.A.

According to @RicBucher, Kobe Bryant believes Pau Gasol’s chance of returning next season is 8 out of 10.

via Serena Winters of Lakers Nation on Twitter

This seems like wishful thinking on Kobe Bryant’s part. Multiple league sources have told Basketball Insiders that Pau Gasol has already started looking into potential free agency destinations and weighing his other options. He’s not hiding the fact that he’s going to test the market this summer and see what is out there.

Rival executives believe that Gasol is going to walk away from the Lakers this summer, which isn’t a huge surprise considering what has transpired over the last two years. Gasol’s relationship with Mike D’Antoni has been an issue for quite awhile and it’s unlikely the veteran big man will want to be a part of the the Lakers’ rebuilding effort since he’s turning 34 years old this summer and in the final stages of his career.

The Lakers may not be interested in bringing back Gasol either, since they are clearly looking toward the future and throwing significant money at an aging Gasol wouldn’t make much sense. While it’s not totally out of the question, it does seem unlikely that Gasol will be back with the Lakers next season.

Nerlens Noel Makes Another Positive Step

Nerlens Noel has graduated in his rehabilitation. The 76ers rookie has “cautiously” begun working against another body, going through 1-on-1 work, according to coach Brett Brown.

“He is (doing more). He’s slowly doing a little more physical stuff,” Brown said after Friday’s practice. “He’s slowly doing a little more and you can play him against another body. I highlight the word ‘slowly’ and I highlight the word ‘cautiously,’ but he’s doing it.

“A little bit more. I don’t want to paint the wrong picture. A little bit more, but he’s moving in that direction.”

via Christopher A. Vito of the Daily Times

It’s good to hear that Noel is progressing, but nobody should get their hopes up that he’s going to play this season.

The Sixers have no reason to put Noel on the floor now, since the team isn’t competing for anything (besides more ping pong balls).

They have every reason to keep Noel benched throughout the remainder of the year, mainly so that he is completely healthy when he makes his NBA debut and so that the team can continue to tank as according to plan.

In a different situation, Noel may have already made his NBA debut, but Philadelphia is taking things as slowly as possible for obvious reasons. Noel will likely play his first NBA game during the 2014-15 season.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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