As much attention as it received, Dennis Rodman’s choice of clothes for his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame turned out to be the second-most debated question of the weekend.  The first was undoubtedly whether Phil Jackson, on hand to usher his former long-time assistant Tex Winter and Rodman into the Class of 2011, will unretire in the future and return to the NBA sidelines to coach again.  Read more after the jump.

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Maybe for the Knicks in 2012.

It’s a topic that will arise every time the Knicks fail to play any defense or show that they need someone other than Mike D’Antoni to figure out how to get the most out of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.

Jackson himself didn’t totally rule it out, as he told several reporters, before presenting Winter and Rodman in Springfield’s Symphony Hall.

“You can’t tell,” he said, when asked how he’ll like retirement. “I’ll know in October, November, December, January or February – whenever they start the season – what it’s like to be without ball again.”

The answer to that question and Jackson’s future might have very well been on his right arm. When he walked on the red carpet ahead of Rodman, Jackson was accompanied by his long-time girlfriend and Laker executive Jeanie Buss.

For all the talk about a Jackson making a return after taking a year off, Knick fans should remember that Buss isn’t moving out of Los Angeles anytime soon. That would seem to be a pretty significant obstacle for Jackson coming to New York to coach his old team.

“I think Phil is ready to go off into the sunset, probably for good,” said Hall of Famer and ex-Bull Scottie Pippen. “I think the physical side of it is really starting to take its toll. At this stage of his life, it would take a job like New York to bring him back. That’s the kind of challenge that he would need. But I think he coached his last game.”

After looking worn and puffy when the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs by the Mavs in the second round in May, Jackson appeared refreshed and lighter on his feet on Friday night. But the fact is, he will turn 66 in September and is coming off his 20th season as an NBA head coach.

“I don’t think Phil will coach again, whether it’s New York or anyplace else,” said another Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley. “I think the big issue is age. It’s a young person’s game. Phil’s not 50. He’s accomplished everything and I don’t think he wants to return to the grind. It’s just time. At this stage of his life, I don’t think he wants to get stressed out.

“The other thing about the Knicks is, they’re not a contender,” Barkley added. “I don’t think he’d have the patience to hang around to wait for them to become a contender. The Knicks are a ways away. So even if he came there for one year, it’d be great for box office and great for attention. But they wouldn’t be a contender.”

As his Hall of Fame resume indicates, Jackson lived to coach elite players and championship teams, leaving the game with a record 11 rings. But leaving Kobe Bryant when Bryant is still one of the NBA’s top players may be the biggest tip-off that Jackson won’t be back.

“Why would he want to?” said Jim Cleamons, an assistant coach for Jackson during the Jordan era in Chicago who also worked for Jackson during his 11 years in Los Angeles. “He was in coaching for 20-plus seasons and he’s where he wants to be now. He’s been talking about retiring for a number of years. For Phil, it’s time to let the game move on and do other things that he wants to do with his life.”

New York Daily News