Monday, March 10, 2014

Phil Jackson "Likely" Heading To Knicks

James Dolan's decade long pursuit of Phil Jackson might finally be bearing some fruit.

Last week rumors started swirling that the Knicks were once again in hot pursuit of the former Bulls and Lakers head coach, making him an offer to become the newest coach of the Knicks, which he quickly declined. Then Dolan came back with a front office job offer, leaving the Master of Zen to think about it at his home in California.

As unlikely a marriage as it seems on paper, reports are now surfacing that Jackson is likely coming to New York to take over the Knicks front office. The two sides are still working on contract parameters, such as Jackson's official job title, how often he has to be in New York (since he has been leery of leaving his So-Cal home), and when he will start the job.

What this means for current Knicks GM Steven Mills is a question mark, but previous reports by the Daily News and New York Post both said Mills would keep his job as GM. We shall see, especially if Jackson is going to have a big say in personnel and the run of the shop. Maybe Mills will become more of a salary cap guru instead -- just speculation on my part.

Jackson's hire would also affect the status of Assistant GM Allen Houston, and, obviously Head Coach Mike Woodson.

Jackson as a young man in NY.
Jackson has stated that he is not interested in coaching the team. His second knee surgery is keeping him from the bench. He will instead look, probably, to one of his old assistants from the Lakers or Bulls to take the head coaching job. Jackson instead will have a front office presence a la Pat Riley in Miami.

Jackson would bring instant credibility to the franchise; he would be a draw to free agents, and give the Knicks the needed facelift they have been looking for ever since Jeff Van Gundy left in the early 2000s.

It is anyone's guess as to how the relationship between Jackson and James Dolan will play out. Dolan is a hands on owner when it comes to basketball. He's already chased out Hall of Famers like Lenny Wilkins, Larry Brown and Donnie Walsh in the past. While those men are all established winners, none of them brought a pouch full of a 13 NBA championship rings to MSG the way Jackson will.

If Dolan gets in the way, Jackson won't be long for the job -- he'll walk away after a couple of years. This job won't be easy. Jackson is not entering the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaq; he's not entering the Bulls with Michael Jordan. He's coming to a Knicks team where its ball hogging super star is looking toward free agency, and has already said he's not crazy about Jackson coming here.

Carmelo Anthony is going to be a hard negotiation. Jackson has in the past ripped both Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in the past. Can these two get past their differences and work together? After Anthony, Jackson has to retool a roster with aging and injured players, i.e. Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, and the underperforming Raymond Felton.

This won't be easy for a 68-year-old Jackson, but if he accepts the job just the thrill of him coming to New York is enough to get Knicks fans excited.

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