New York Knicks Roundtable: The Phil Jackson Situation


The New York Knicks’ Phil Jackson saga has continued onward for several days now. All week, the rumors have indicated that Jackson was “close” to signing with the Knicks, but nothing definite has been released. Questions about his fit with the Knicks, his experience, his living preferences, etc. have circled all week.

Some of the Buckets Over Broadway writers got together to discuss the situation.

1.) What’s the hold-up on the Phil Jackson deal? How come there haven’t more concrete details?

Scott Davis: Jackson’s reported requests to take the job have been steep. He’s demanding a high amount of control, a high salary, and perhaps most of all, the removal of Steve Mills. It’s been discussed that it’d be tough to let go of Mills, because he had been involved in the running for the new NBPA president job, but took the Knicks’ GM over that. My guess is the Knicks are having trouble meeting all of Jackson’s requests.

Apr 5, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Phil Jackson in attendance during game between the New York Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 101-83. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Ankit Mehra: To me, the only holdup is power negotiations. With an owner like James Dolan, the primary explanation can only be who gets majority control. Phil Jackson is the type of person who gets all or nothing, so if Dolan isn’t willing to give up power, this process is going to drag out.

Phil DeMeo: God loves to tease Knicks fans and nothing can be or ever will be easy. Until Phil signs the dotted line and has his press conference, there’s always doubt. That’s just how a Knicks fan thinks.

Richard Bertin: The silence surrounding this deal makes me think only two people really know whats going on: James Dolan & Phil. Phil is not going to attach his name onto anything that doesn’t help Phil first, so perhaps there are some particular wrinkles in the contract that both are adamant about but just can’t come to an agreement on. It could be something as personal to Dolan as making sure Phil can’t write a book about about the Knicks, or the notorious media policy.

James Griffo: I agree wholeheartedly with Ankit. It’s the issue of complete autonomy. James Dolan must demote Steve Mills from one of his positions and hand that position over to Jackson packaged with complete authoritative power with no babying from Dolan himself. If that doesn’t happen, then it’s like inviting someone over to your house and not being there.

2.) Is Phil Jackson’s lack of front office experience a concern?

Davis: It is, but not enough to keep the Knicks from pursuing him. Pat Riley never had any front office experience, either, and it’s worked out OK for him. Jackson certainly understands management well enough, and he seems to be dominating these current negotiations. I’m not expecting Jackson to work miracles right away, but over time, hopefully he’ll learn the ropes.

Mehra: I wouldn’t say Phil Jackson’s lack of experience is a problem. Jackson is the type of coach that players buy into so if he can implement his winning attitude in New York, the 70’s could be relived in the Big Apple.

DeMeo: I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. It’s hard to not trust Phil Jackson when it comes to anything basketball. I trust the Zen Master.

Bertin: Not to me. Despite how quickly the league is changing in how teams are managed financially and players are reviewed statistically, Phil is still a voice of reason that the Knicks need at MSG. Besides you can argue that Dolan has amassed over 15 years of executive leadership, and we know what that’s worth.

Griffo: I discussed this question on Twitter a little bit last night. With Jackson’s only experience being an unpaid adviser for the Pistons (which failed miserably), his experience is absolutely a concern. A front office job and a head coaching job are totally distinguishable from each other. Maybe his name will entice splashy names from around the association and other young talent because, you know, he’s Phil Jackson and we’re not.

Apr 2, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Phil Jackson looks on as the jersey of Los Angeles Lakers former player Shaquille O

3.) Can Phil Jackson actually change the culture and direction of the Knicks?

Davis: I think he can, especially if he is granted a title with “President” in it. He’s highly respected around the league, and if the Knicks can build a solid core of players, free agents looking to pursue a ring will certainly be attracted to a team run by Jackson.

Mehra: I believe it will take some time, but yes, Jackson can bring the winning mentality to New York, and get the spirit back. This Knicks team is mediocre because of the front office and coaching staff, so if the Zen Master can crack down on some of the internal issues facing the Knicks, success will come with time.

DeMeo: The only way he does if he’s fully invested into the Knicks. He’s not pastime in LA, he’s not working from home. He’s working at the Garden, showing fans and players that he is all in.

Bertin: That is contingent on whether Dolan would allow it. If he is given the autonomy he needs in making his vision come true, then of course this could be transformative move for the Knicks franchise. If we still see Garden lawn furniture like Herb Williams, Steve Mills,and CAA henchmen still being shackled to the team, it gives you a sense of how much freedom Phil really has.

Griffo: Like anything else, time will tell. Hopefully Jackson will excel the same way Pat Riley or Larry Bird did by making logical decisions that doesn’t associate the totalitarian CAA. Like taking several steps back executing a trade for an incompetent 7 footer that can’t shoot a lick (I see you, Bargs). Godspeed, Zen Master.