Reporting from Oklahoma City — Lakers Coach Phil Jackson delivered an ominous message about his future with the team after L.A. was blown out by the Thunder, 91-75, on Friday night.
Jackson sat in his office after a game in which the Lakers trailed by as much as 33 points, his legs crossed.
Before the game, Jackson said he made "no decision" on whether he would coach the Lakers next season.
After the game, Jackson seemed to be pushed in a direction by his team's horrible play.
"After tonight, asking me that question when the team doesn't respond to your coaching, you're setting yourself up for a hypothetical like, ‘If they're not going to respond to your coaching, why do you want to come back and coach them?'" Jackson told The Times. "Either they respond or they don't respond.
"If they don't respond, you say, ‘no, this isn't the time for me to continue coaching.' If they do respond and we have the talent and we do the right thing and still can't win, that's a different story."
Jackson said he has to "balance" his feelings after a loss like Friday night versus the Lakers going to Houston on Saturday night and possibly winning.
The Lakers (53-19) still have the best record in the Western Conference, second-best in the NBA behind Cleveland.
"That's always an issue," Jackson said. "Can I get across to them? You only have so many messages. After you run out of those 250 messages and you start saying the same thing and people start to tune you out…"
Jackson, 64, is making $12 million this season.
When asked if Lakers owner Jerry Buss had asked him to take a pay cut, Jackson said, "no."
"It's not like the franchise is losing money and it's not like I haven't done the job," Jackson said. "I know I came back under dire circumstances, as far as where the team was headed and going."
The Lakers let Jackson go after the 2004 season. They missed the playoffs during the 2004-05 season, the first time that happened since 1994.
After Rudy Tomjanovich, who replaced Jackson, resigned during the season, Jackson was asked to come back in 2005.
The Lakers have made the playoffs every year since, winning the NBA championship last season. It was the fourth title the Lakers have won under Jackson.
"There was an incentive to hold the team together," Jackson said. "We got there [to the NBA championship] and now we're back and are a strong franchise again. So from that standpoint, it's not rational to think I would do that [take a pay cut] to come back."
Jackson said the Lakers possibly could have just one guard ( Sasha Vujacic) signed to a contract this summer.
Kobe Bryant, who hasn't signed a contract extension, can out opt of his contract this summer and become a free agent, as can Shannon Brown. Derek Fisher will be an unrestricted free agent, Jordan Farmar a restricted free agent.
That could leave the Lakers with just six players signed to contracts.
"There's a whole bunch of issues of what's going to be the makeup of our basketball club," Jackson said.
Jackson said he feels obligated to his staff, particularly assistants Frank Hamblen and Jim Cleamons. Jackson said assistant Brian Shaw will get a job, probably even a head coaching position.
After a dinner Thursday night with some of his personnel, some of them dubbed it "The Last Supper."