Friday, March 7, 2014
What Knicks' pursuit of Phil Jackson means
By Ian Begley
Phil Jackson is on the Knicks' radar. What does that mean for Mike Woodson?
So, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, the Knicks reached out to Phil Jackson to see whether he'd coach the team next. Here are a few factors to consider when thinking about the Knicks' pursuit of Phil:
Gonna be awkward: This isn't the first time an NBA executive has reached out to a potential coaching candidate while there's a coach under contract. And it probably won't be the last. But that doesn't mean the Knicks' pursuit of Jackson will sit well with Mike Woodson.
Remember, Woodson is still under contract with the Knicks. In fact, he's signed through the 2014-15 season. Most expect Woodson to be fired at season's end, if not before. Those expectations aside, Steve Mills' pursuit of Jackson while Woodson is under contract has to be upsetting to the coach -- and likely will rub other members of the coaching fraternity the wrong way.
Will he run the show? According to Smith, Jackson, 68, told the Knicks he wasn't interested in the position. But would he consider an executive role with the team? Reports have swirled for the past few seasons that Jackson has interest in running a team or shaping a roster.
The Knicks have a need to fill at the executive level.
Mills, the Knicks' current president and GM, took over for fired Glen Grunwald shortly before the start of training camp. But he's not known as a talent evaluator, so the general consensus at the time of his hiring was that the Knicks eventually would seek to fill the void with a top-notch player evaluator.
Jackson, with his 11 NBA title rings, would bring the Knicks instant credibility in the front office.
What about Melo? Every big decision around the Knicks these days has to be made with Carmelo Anthony in mind. Anthony plans to opt out of his contract and test free agency this summer. The Knicks will do everything they can to retain Carmelo.
You can bet that, if things between the Knicks and Jackson get serious, the Knicks' brain trust will run the idea by Anthony to gauge his interest.
The star forward said earlier this year that his sole motivation is to win a title.
Jackson has won plenty, including a championship as a player with the Knicks in 1972-73. So you'd think bringing him on would help the Knicks' pursuit of re-signing Carmelo.
Obviously, Woody's done: The Knicks' decision to go after Jackson makes it clear that Woody won't be coaching the team next season. His job security had been in question all season thanks to New York's struggles.
The current theory is that Woody will coach for the rest of the season and the Knicks will find a big-name coach this summer to help persuade Anthony to stay in New York. Obviously, Mills has started the search already.
Other coaches you can expect the Knicks to show interest in include Tom Thibodeau (if he can leave Chicago), John Calipari and Jeff Van Gundy.