It looks like Phil Jackson is signing on to take over the basketball operations of the New York Knicks. The knee jerk reaction for Los Angeles Lakers fans is to cry about how they are losing another great figure due to the incompetence of Jim Buss which will further set back their franchise. I am here to tell Lakers fans that it really isn’t too big of deal.
Jackson isn’t coaching anymore, which is what he does best. So that won’t be missed. Based on some of the players the Zen Master has been enamored with during his tenure with the Lakers, I can safely say he isn’t an elite talent evaluator. This is the same guy who wanted to trade Kobe Bryant for Jason Kidd in 2000 in the midst of the team’s three-peat run. This is also the same guy who refused to start Trevor Ariza over Luke Walton in the 2009 season, that is until Walton actually had to come up to Jackson and tell him he should be starting Ariza.
I’m not so sure Jackson will be adept at being a recruiter to free agents. He has never been an outgoing, people person as Pau Gasol recently told reporters, “I don’t know if I picture him as a recruiter.” And it would be hard for him to sell a free agent coming to New York when he won’t be coaching the team. Players dream about playing for Jackson; they don’t fantasize about him being in the press box.
It’s probable his arrival will provide a short-term surge to the recent play of this current Knicks team. Who knows? They might even catch the Atlanta Hawks and make the playoffs. But like any quick pick-me-up, it won’t last. Beyond that, he is an unproven decision maker. And there’s no doubt he will butt heads with Jim Dolan at some point — talk about the complete opposite of Dr. Jerry Buss.
The Lakers already have a proven man in Mitch Kupchak, so Lakers fans really have no reason to be miserable due to this latest development. Ultimately, Jackson wanted full autonomy of basketball decisions with a franchise, and the Lakers were right in not giving that to him.