Zen is about to meet Showtime.
Phil Jackson, who led the Chicago Bulls to six titles with an enlightened, offbeat approach to basketball, agreed in principle today to coach the Los Angeles Lakers next season, team spokesman John Black said.
The Lakers reportedly offered Jackson a four-year, $24 million deal. Barring a last-minute snag in contract details, he is expected to be introduced at a news conference Wednesday.
Jackson, who would replace interim coach Kurt Rambis, was also sought by the New Jersey Nets and, to a lesser degree, the New York Knicks before they made their improbable run to the NBA Finals.
The Lakers fired Del Harris 12 games into last season and promoted Rambis from his job as an assistant. They were swept in the playoffs for the second year in a row, losing in the second round to San Antonio. Utah swept the Lakers in the Western Conference finals last year.
Jackson, who returned from an Alaskan fishing trip Monday, already was scheduled to be in Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday to campaign for presidential candidate Bill Bradley, a former NBA star who played alongside Jackson with the Knicks.
A family member who answered the phone at Jackson's home in Montana said the coach wasn't available to comment. Neither Todd Musburger, Jackson's agent, nor Jerry West, the Lakers' vice president, returned calls from the Associated Press.
The Lakers had indicated that Rambis might keep the job, but owner Jerry Buss instead decided to spend millions more to hire the high-profile Jackson.
In addition to inheriting three of the NBA's marquee players, Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Rice and Kobe Bryant, Jackson also will be working in a sleek new building. The Lakers have left the aging Forum and will play in the new Staples Arena next season.
Michael Jordan keyed Jackson's run of NBA titles at Chicago, where Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman also played major roles in making the Bulls one of the best teams in league history.
The 53-year-old Jackson, who took this season off, had a 545-193 record in nine seasons in Chicago and was 111-41 in the playoffs.
The Lakers began talking to Musburger last week. Team executives West and Mitch Kupchak spoke by telephone with Jackson on Monday.
West and Kupchak were impressed after talking with Jackson about the Lakers players and the team's future, and left it up to him to decide whether he wanted the job.
He decided quickly.
Jackson, able to fuse the very distinct styles -- and egos -- of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman into a championship combination, will face a similar challenge in Los Angeles.
Although O'Neal is the NBA's dominant center, he has yet to win a championship in his six years in the league. Bryant is a freelancer by nature, a flashy player who can do almost everything but create open shots for his teammates.
There also has been friction between O'Neal, 26, and Bryant, 20.
After Harris was fired and the Lakers' experiment with Rodman ended, the Lakers provided O'Neal with the outside shooter he thought was the missing link for a title, Rice.
Los Angeles traded Eddie Jones, a former all-star and an outstanding defender, and Elden Campbell to Charlotte to get Rice. But Rice, coming off elbow surgery, was mostly disappointing.