The New York Knicks have reached an agreement with Phil Jackson to be their new team president. In line with their out-of-date hiring, they are also using the old ploy of having a press conference on Tuesday for a “major announcement” and not telling people why, because we have no idea what it is, like, this is some big secret. The hire will make big noise in the Big Apple, but when it comes to a basketball-decision, this one is dumb one. Jackson is an over-the-hill former coach who wasn’t known for his work ethic his last couple of seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Knicks’ terrible roster, lack of cap space and draft picks, rebuilding this roster is going to take a lot of work. Is Phil up for that?
The hiring of Jackson will fall in line with recent bad decisions by the Knicks: Isaiah Thomas, Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni. New York’s insistence of making a big splash with all of their hires keeps coming back to explode in their faces, and the hiring of Jackson will do the same.
Jackson has arranged a deal with the Knicks to receive $12 million per year for the next five years to do a job he has never done. Has there ever been a more James Dolanesque move? Well, I guess everything he did involving Thomas would have to be considered. Jackson has also managed to get clearance to do his job mostly from Los Angeles, you know, the city that is roughly 2,800 miles away from New York. I know Jackson won a title as a player with the Knicks, but he is a wide-open spaces type of guy; he will never be in New York for more than a couple of days at a time.
The first order of business will be convincing Carmelo Anthony to stay without demanding a full-max salary, which will be hard, considering Melo has already stated he wants to hear a game plan from the Knicks before deciding. That means Jackson only has a few months to get a coach Anthony will like, devise a way to get some draft picks, and shed some of the Knicks’ overpaid baggage.
Getting a coach will be the hardest part of all. Jackson is one of the few great coaches in all of sport that does not have a definitive coaching-tree. Kurt Rambis has flamed out, Brian Shaw isn’t winning people over with the Denver Nuggets right now, and that is the extent of Jackson’s coaching-tree. The rumbles of Steve Kerr might work, but just like with Jackson, the Knicks would be employing someone for a job they have never done before. Some have made the comparison of Kerr to Phoenix Suns rookie head coach Jeff Hornacek, but Hornacek had some time on the bench before taking the Suns job; he spent time as an assistant with the Utah Jazz.
Unless Jackson has learned hypnosis in his time away from the NBA, I do not see how he is going to turn around a Knicks team that has one of the most discombobulated rosters in the league. Convincing other team executives to take New York’s garbage in return for gold is the only way to rebuild on the fly without any draft picks.
As a coach, Jackson was never responsible for taking over a sinking ship, so not only will front-office work be new to Jackson, the Knicks’ fledgling situation will also be foreign to him. Good luck getting other executives to fall for the Zen Master trickery, Phil.