Knicks News and Rumors: Why New York Needs Phil Jackson to Return as NBA Coach With Front Office Power
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It's nice to be wanted, sometimes, and the buzz around the latest headlines is that the New York Knicks desperately want Phil Jackson.
And really, who could blame them?
To bring one of the most renown and winningest coaches in NBA history into their fold would definitely add much-needed light on their current dark predicament that ails the team of late. And standing with a depressing 24-40 record as of March 10, tumbling their out of the playoff picture, New York needs all the positives that it can get.
The problem, however, is this: Jackson has indicated that he has no interest whatsoever in coaching again.
In fact, according to the New York Daily News, the 11-time NBA title-winning head coach, with Chicago and the L.A. Lakers, reportedly turned the Knicks down last week when they offered him the head coaching job (not a great rumor to hear if you're, oh, say, Mike Woodson). It seems that Jackson has his heart set on a major executive role with whatever organization that he takes part in, much like his old rival, Pat Riley, who landed with the Miami Heat after the Knicks let him walk following the 1994-1995 season - a decision that continues to haunt the Knicks, with Miami having earned three rings under Riley's stewardship while New York still seeks its first ring since the Disco Days of 1973.
In theory, promoting Jackson to captain the Knicks' sinking ship, so to speak, could be the cure to their woes that New York has been seeking for decades. Jackson is one of the greatest minds to ever come into the game of basketball. Forget the fact that he has 11 rings and coached some of the greatest players ever like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Scottie Pippin, and more. Jackson can balance both the need for a strong offense - usually using the Triangle Offense - and a great defense while motivating players to be better than what they normally are. He's a winner who knows how to guide and maintain winners. And that's not only what the Knicks want, it's what they need.
Yet, a lot of that is contingent on whether or not Knicks owner James Dolan is willing to loosen the reins and allow Jackson unfettered control and the ability to build the team his way. For a while, Donnie Walsh, one of basketball's most brilliant architects, was doing that, cleaning up the toxic sludge left behind in the wake of the Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas eras of bad and bloated contracts to mediocre players. With careful maneuvering, he gutted a weak and overpaid roster to put the Knicks in position to land Amar'e Stoudemire, who was excellent before his knees once again became an issue, and a strong, young competitive roster. But when Dolan decided to impose his will and gut the roster for perennial NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony, Walsh split from the Big Apple and helped make the Indiana Pacers a favorite to win the NBA title this year. Imagine what Walsh could have done for New York if he was allowed to finish the job ...
In the Knicks' case, they need help everywhere and in every spot around the organization. A good start for both might be if Jackson agrees to something where he can help in a myriad of levels. That, of course, would come with a job that has Jackson coaching and being able to make executive decisions in the front office. It's the best of both worlds for the Knicks. Having a coach with Jackson's aura and reputation would send a clear message to the league that the Knicks are serious about being a contender again. Granted, Jackson's health isn't what it used to be, and he's certainly not getting any younger. But for the interim, at least, he could serve as a very effective transitional coach until they find the perfect fit for the Knicks.
Meanwhile, Jackson can get a full look under the hood, so to speak, of what the team needs in the locker room and on the floor. Getting a look at the full picture can give him a more intimate look at the team that can only assist him when he makes the big personnel decisions in the front office. Jackson's been getting his hands dirty on the sidelines coaching for 20-plus years and clearly has the know-how on how to do it. Helping the Knicks on the sidelines would be helping himself out when it comes to their long-term thinking. Heck, it might even convince Melo to stay on this summer when he hits free agency.
At age 68 and with his place in the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame well-secured, Jackson won't accept anything less than full control. Nor should he, for that matter. He's won more rings than Dolan has had playoff appearances guiding the Knicks (New York has only appeared in the NBA playoffs seven times since Dolan took control of the Knicks in 1999). He could either easily take another role back in L.A. with the Lakers, where his fiancée, Jeanie Buss, holds considerable clout as the team's president. Or he could just settle back in his ranch in Montana, or take a broadcasting job, if offered one, but whatever he decides, Jackson's got options. He's rich, he's famous and he's successful to the point where he doesn't have to go to NBA teams to seek a job if he wants back in - teams come to him, clamoring for his services.
If the Knicks want him in the fold, perhaps a sideline gig to go with the big management responsibilities would be what's best for Jackson and the Knicks in terms of business. The one thing the Knicks can't afford to do, however, is blow this opportunity to bring in one of the game's best minds to fix their dire situation. It doesn't get much better than Phil Jackson; and the Knicks shouldn't waste their opportunity to find out why.
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