Presuming he wants to continue coaching the Kings, the comments below by Phil Jackson are not what Rick Adelman wants to hear. From the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan.
Cognizant that the Lakers finished 34-48 and tied for 11th in the Western Conference, Jackson indicated there was work to be done on the Lakers beyond a trade or two and a possible mid-level free-agent acquisition.
They are more than $20 million over the salary cap for next season, not including the cost of signing their first-round draft pick, No. 10 overall (or possibly higher, depending on the draft lottery), and the possibility of picking up a $5.4-million option for aging center Vlade Divac.
“Their current roster is not appealing at all,” Jackson said. “It’s obvious they have a roster that’s limited because it’s capped out. It’s going to take a while to clean that up. They had performers that were paid big money that were incapable of performing.
“Brian Grant didn’t earn his lunch money this year. Vlade didn’t earn his lunch money this year. Those really hurt when that happened.
“They haven’t got a lot of wiggle room to get better in a hurry. They underachieved this year. There’s no doubt this team was much more talented than their record showed.
It was reported that Bryant was planning to meet with Jackson, however, both Jackson’s agent and the Lakers said they were unaware of any attempts by Bryant to contact Jackson.
Several sources said Jackson recently called Bryant to set up a meeting, and Bryant told Jackson he had a charity event to attend. Jackson suggested the two meet later, but Bryant told him he was going to Europe for three weeks.
The two still haven’t met.
Charles LaVorgna, a family counselor and psychologist in Temecula, said Jackson and Bryant are in a power struggle and must put their egos aside.
“I have a feeling they are sort of playing mind games of ‘when we’re going to meet, when we’re not going to meet,'” LaVorgna said. “If either of them doesn’t want to give or make an accommodation for the other … it would be my feelings that there is a power issue that’s there. … They’re both looking for a face-saving setting.”
Despite the Lakers’ struggles last season en route to tying for last in their division and missing the playoffs, Jackson could find Bryant emboldened by the absence of his former coach and his departed superstar teammate, Shaquille O’Neal.
According to sources, Bryant let his teammates know he intended on running things following the Lakers’ 103-89 loss at Cleveland on Feb. 13. Bryant, who scored a team-high 26 points in his return after missing 14 games with a sprained ankle, came into the locker room and told his teammates that no one should shoot the ball except him or Lamar Odom.
Bryant said the rest of the Lakers would get the “scraps,” sources said, and that if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t be Lakers for long.
Sources also claimed Bryant undermined the authority of Rudy Tomjanovich, who succeeded Jackson last summer before resigning on Feb. 2.
Tomjanovich, sources said, called a timeout during a game and was designing a play on the clipboard. Bryant took the clipboard and drew up a play for himself as the other players looked on in dismay.