It’s almost final. Phil Jackson will be taking his Zen and winning talents to New York, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Jackson and the Knicks organization finalized a five-year contract after lunch on Friday and Jackson will reportedly earn $12 million a year. He’ll be named president of the Knicks at a news conference on Tuesday, scheduled for 11 a.m. ET.
The NY Knicks will hold a press conference on Tuesday, March 18 to make a major announcement.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) March 14, 2014
The ESPN report:
Jackson, who has won a record 11 NBA championships as coach of the Lakers and Bulls and two as a Knicks player, likely will spend significant time in New York but also retain his time in Los Angeles, sources said.
Jackson will take over the running of the Knicks’ basketball operations department from president and general manager Steve Mills. A source said earlier this week that Mills will remain an integral part of the organization.
There were rumors that Jackson could have returned to the Lakers organization in some capacity, but the Lakers were not willing to give him the power and control that he will have in New York (which is what Knicks owner Jim Dolan is telling Jackson).
This is a good move for the Knicks organization because they are getting an individual with a history of winning (as a player and a coach) and a savvy basketball mind. The only snag with this move is the fact that Jackson never built a team from the ground up. When he was an NBA coach, he had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago and inherited Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles; now that he is in the front office in New York, he might have nothing to work with if he doesn’t get right down to business and address the future of soon-to-be free agent Carmelo Anthony, who’s set to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer.
The head coaching job is another piece of business Jackson needs to address. Mike Woodson is under contract until next season and the embattled Knicks coach acknowledged that Jackson would likely be making changes.
“When someone new comes in he has his own thought process and philosophy in terms of how he feels and how the shape of the team should be,” Woodson said. “And until he gets here you just have no idea what he’s thinking and which direction he wants to go.”
“It’s basketball; teams, they try to reshape, they go through changes, and this is no different.” “You bring in a great basketball mind into your organization and eventually it’ll be reshaped. So how and who and when, only time will tell,” Woodson stated.
There’s speculations that Jackson has former Phoenix Suns general manager and now NBA analyst Steve Kerr in his sights as the next head coach for the Knicks. Kerr already has a history of winning, he played for Jackson when he was a member of the Chicago Bulls where he won a total of four NBA titles (from 1996 to 1999) including his fifth title in 2003 when he rejoined the Spurs as they defeated the New Jersey Nets in the NBA finals.
Kerr is known to be an excellent communicator and probably the closest to Jackson in terms of managing interpersonal relationships and has played extensively in the triangle offense for Jackson. The one small wrinkle for Kerr is that he has no coaching experience on any level and New York is not the place you want to start learning with the constant pressures of the city along with the New York media always around.
ESPN’s Marc Stein states that Jackson “has never operated in traditional coaching circles,” and that the list of potential coaching candidates – “Phil disciples” – is a short one.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 15, 2014
Ultimately, we will have to wait and see what Phil Jackson has in his “bag of Zen tricks” because the building of the New York Knicks into a playoff contender will definitely be a long marathon. Knicks fans must have patience.