- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Did all of the drama surrounding the Knicks' pursuit of Phil Jackson distract the players?
"No, it’s not a distraction at all," Carmelo Anthony said after the Knicks won their sixth straight game Saturday. "If anything, it made us come together more as a team, as a unit, to really kind of keep that on the outside.
"We’re excited and happy that it got done, instead of all the speculation that’s been going on. So finally, it’s signed, sealed and delivered. We’re ready for that next chapter, but right now we’ve got things to take care of."
Jackson signed on to become the newest president of the Knicks after a lunch meeting with team officials Friday, sources have told ESPN.
His deal is for five years and is expected to pay him $12 million annually but does not include an ownership stake, sources said.
Jackson takes over a Knicks team that has struggled for most of the season but is trying to make a late playoff push. New York is trying to become just the third team since 1984-85 to rebound from a deficit of five or more games with fewer than 25 games to play.
The Knicks were 5.5 games behind the eighth-place Hawks with 20 games to play.
"It’s unfortunate that we waited until our backs were against the wall and dug ourselves a huge hole," Anthony said. "There’s nothing we can do about that now. The timing is perfect for us to try to get some momentum going, win some games and see what happens."
Anthony said it's difficult to be asked about the future by reporters in the middle of the season. But the Knicks, he said, have done a solid job staying in the moment.
"The easiest thing to do is start talking about next year at this point in time, but the guys on the team seem pretty confident about just staying focused right now, winning basketball games and trying to make this push for the playoffs," Anthony said.
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