After receiving a verbal commitment earlier in the week, it is now set in stone that Phil Jackson will be joining the New York Knicks as the President of Basketball Operations. This is a move that seemed long overdue and is one that will begin a much-needed rebuilding process for the Knicks.
Currently the Knicks sit three games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, although this should not fool anyone as to the extent that they need to clean house. Their record of 26-40 starts to indicate this need and their average of 100.6 points per game against begins to display the utter incompetence the team has had as a unit this season. Unfortunately New York has $67.716 million in guaranteed salary for the 2014-15 season without Carmelo Anthony on the books, which means that Jackson essentially has his hands tied for another year by the salary cap.
One major positive about sitting through this dreadful season is that the Knicks will have enough room to dole out two max contracts in the summer of 2015, even if Anthony does return to New York, and three if he departs. The slate of players who are going to be available is nothing short of historic, as Kyrie Irving, Rajon Rondo, Ricky Rubio, Arron Afflalo, Klay Thompson, Eric Gordon, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Kenneth Faried, Omer Asik, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Al Jefferson and Roy Hibbert are all due to be free agents. It could be said that Jackson could form a NBA Championship caliber team from scratch with these players.
Even with Jackson not sitting on the bench every night it can be assured that the Zen Master will still be able to pick the players he wants to come into town. Additionally, he will have a hand-picked coach who likely will be running the famed triangle and will have had a year to determine if Knicks such as Tim Hardaway and Iman Shumpert are deserving of staying in town. This will essentially mean that Jackson is running the floor from a box, a move that would seem destined for success.
Bringing Jackson in to the Knicks is certainly not going to be an automatic fix because of the salary cap situation New York finds themselves in, but it isn’t the doomsday scenario some are making it out to be. There is almost no doubt that Jackson will be able to bring back Anthony if he wants to and will be able to hand pick a championship caliber team in the summer of 2015. Now he just needs to make sure James Dolan stays out of the way.