The Toronto Raptors, emboldened by the news that the Sacramento Kings apparently won’t be moving to Seattle, have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson to be their new team president, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Raptors — now being run by former Los Angeles-based sports mogul Tim Leiweke — regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.
But now that the Kings appear poised to stay in Sacramento instead of being sold to the consortium led by Jackson fan Chris Hansen, sources say that the Raptors will be pursuing Jackson aggressively this week, believing that they rank as Jackson’s most attractive current option for a new career in management now that he can reunite with Leiweke.
One source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Hansen and Jackson have “hit it off,” sparking league-wide speculation that Jackson would be offered the chance to run the new Sonics in Seattle in the Pat Riley-style role he craves. But with a 12-owner committee recommending Monday that the Kings’ move to Seattle be blocked, Toronto’s seemingly long-shot odds of winning the Jackson sweepstakes would figure to have received a boost.
– Reported by Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com