New York Knicks: Will the Phil Jackson hiring change anything?

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Image Courtesy of New York Knicks

The New York Post reports that the New York Knicks and Phil Jackson have come to an agreement for Jackson to ‘oversee’ basketball operations for the Knicks.

Phil Jackson has reached an agreement in principle to oversee the Knicks basketball operations and “president” will be in his title, according to a league source.

All that’s left is the lawyers finalizing the last contract details by week’s end before Jackson officially returns to the organization that drafted him and where he won two titles as a player.

The Post has learned Jackson gave the Knicks a verbal commitment on Saturday. The Garden still will not comment on Jackson’s status.

Knicks president/general manager Steve Mills will remain on board in a revised role and work with Jackson. Knicks owner James Dolan hired Mills because of his vast network of contacts with NBA agents and GMs. That isn’t the strong suit of Jackson, winner of 11 titles as coach of the Bulls and Lakers.

Some issues during the last couple of days revolved around his living arrangements. Jackson lives in Marina Del Rey, Calif., with his fiancée, Lakers president Jeanie Buss. Jackson is expected to live in New York during the season, but do some commuting. Buss visits New York on business periodically.

 

The news answered several key questions about Jackson’s role. This is definitely a PR move for the Knicks organization to quiet the fans and critics.  If people expect Jackson to change the structure and culture of the team “in a New York minute”, they need to step back and take a breather because that will not happen. He doesn’t have to deal with the day-to-day grind with Mills and assistant general manager Allan Houston around; but you would think if Jackson comes in as President of Operations, he would want to bring in his own personnel that is an extension of him and the way he does business. The fact that Mills and Houston are still around shows that Knicks owner James Dolan is still going to mettle in daily team operations, which isn’t a good thing.  This will rub Jackson the wrong way and the culture of the team will slowly change if at all from its dysfunctional ways.

With his age and health issues, the Hall of Famer isn’t expected to spend long winters in New York.  He owns a home in Playa del Rey, Los Angeles (with his fiance–Los Angeles Lakers President Jeannie Buss) and a ranch in Lakeside, Montana.  Jackson’s living arrangements and the extent of his day-to-day role have been the final sticking points in the agreement and that should tell you everything you need to know about why this partnership is having a rough start.

Dolan has enlisted Bill Bradley to assist with the Jackson negotiations, the Daily News reported.  Jackson and Bradley were Knicks teammates for 10 seasons and won two NBA championships together.

Courtesy of NY Daily Times

Courtesy of NY Daily Times

The question now is, how will the addition of Phil Jackson as an exec affect All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony and his potential upcoming free agency?  It has been reported recently that Anthony’s response to the Knicks coming to an agreement for Phil Jackson to oversee basketball operations was basically “cool story, bro.” It looks like Anthony is not phased by the Zen Master, a two-time champion as a player for the Knicks and an 11-time champion as a coach. Carmelo knows that it doesn’t matter who the Knicks bring in because they will have their hands tied behind their back because the organization will go in free agency with zero draft picks and cap space.  There’s not enough books or meditation to help the team out of such a dilemma and Anthony appears to be a player who wants to win now.

Even with Phil Jackson in the fold for the New York Knicks, team fans and followers have to understand that this move isn’t a “quick fix”, but a move to make the team a contender two to three years down the road because that is how long it could take.