Phil Jackson and Laker owner Jerry Buss had dinner earlier in the week at Buss' Playa del Rey home, where they talked about Jackson's recent trip to Australia, relived a few old times and perhaps buried a hatchet or two.
One important question did not come up.
"They did not discuss the coaching situation," Laker spokesman John Black said.
Jackson was there with his longtime girlfriend, Laker executive Jeanie Buss, Jerry's daughter. Jackson also had lunch with Jeanie Buss on Thursday at the Laker offices in El Segundo, the second time this week he stopped by Laker headquarters.
Jackson and the Lakers parted abruptly last June after Buss indicated he wanted to go in a different direction and declined to renew Jackson's contract. Buss thought the triangle offense had run its course and wanted a return to the high-scoring days of the "Showtime" teams of the '80s.
Rudy Tomjanovich was brought in to install a high-tempo offense, although it never held fast and Tomjanovich resigned last month because of physical and emotional pressures. The Lakers are back to running the triangle as their primary offense under Frank Hamblen, who took over for Tomjanovich and has endorsed Jackson for the job since the day he was promoted from assistant.
Jackson, Flip Saunders and Larry Brown are believed to be possible candidates. Brown, in the second year of a five-year contract with the Detroit Pistons, has said he believes Detroit will be his final destination as a coach.
The Lakers do not plan to conduct formal interviews with candidates until May or June.
"At this point, that's still something we plan to do during the off-season," General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "Nothing is etched in stone, but that's where we are now."
Of course, the Laker off-season would begin earlier than in past years if they failed to make the playoffs. Their regular-season finale is April 20 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Jerry Buss, in a brief ESPN interview earlier in the day, said he thought Kobe Bryant and Jackson could work out their difficulties.
Jackson was critical of Bryant in his tell-all book that was released in October. Jackson said he felt there was a "psychological war" going on between him and Bryant and that there wasn't enough trust built up between them to win a championship last season. Jackson also wrote of a January 2004 tirade in which he complained to Kupchak that he wouldn't coach Bryant beyond the season because "he won't listen to anyone."