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Friday, March 14, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Phil as Knicks president

By Ian Begley

The Knicks have hired Phil Jackson to serve as team president. Here's what the move means for the franchise:

Instant credibility: The Knicks haven't won a title since Jackson, then a forward on the team, helped them win it in 1973. Since then, Jackson's won an NBA-record 11 rings as a head coach.

So he brings instant championship credentials to the franchise. Jackson, 68, last coached in 2010-11 with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He has never served as an NBA executive. And he'll certainly have his hands full with the Knicks.

New York is one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA this season. They are 14 games under .500 and in danger of missing the playoffs in a season that began with championship aspirations.

What about Carmelo? Jackson's first order of business will be to decide whether to re-sign Carmelo Anthony, who will test free agency this summer.

Anthony can sign a contract with the Knicks that is one year longer and worth $33 million more than any pact he could sign with another team.

He's said that his first priority is to re-sign with the Knicks. But he'd like sit down with Jackson and discuss the team's plans for the future before making a decision.

He's also said that he'd take a pay cut from the Knicks -- or another team -- if it helped the organization attract other players.

Jackson, of course, may choose to let Anthony walk and blow up the entire roster to start rebuilding from scratch.

What about the coach? Jackson was offered the coaching job by the Knicks but turned it down. He'll likely have to hire a coach in the offseason. Mike Woodson, the Knicks' current coach, is expected to be let go at the end of this season.

Who will Jackson bring in?

Jackson disciples such as Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis have been mentioned as potential candidates.

Names being tossed around as potential replacements for Woodson before Jackson's hiring included John Calipari, Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau.

But bringing in a big-name coach to work under Jackson may create a power struggle of sorts. A coach with the credentials of Calipari or Van Gundy would likely seek control over personnel decisions. That wouldn’t be possible with Jackson as president.

Cap crunch: The head coach and Carmelo's free agency aren't the only issues Jackson will have to deal with.

With or without Carmelo, the Knicks are projected to be above the cap thanks to contracts for Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million), which run through 2014-15.

So Jackson will have to do some heavy lifting if he wants to reshape the Knicks in his first offseason as president.

Full autonomy? It will be interesting to see if Jackson truly has full autonomy with the Knicks. Owner James Dolan has a history of getting involved in basketball decisions. The last executive to supposedly have full autonomy was Donnie Walsh. Dolan, though, took over negotiations for the Anthony trade in February 2011, executing a deal that Walsh didn't sign off on.

Is Dolan willing to completely give all of the basketball decision making to another member of the organization?

He'd be wise to put it in the hands of Jackson, the owner of the best winning percentage (.704) in league history among NBA coaches with at least 10 seasons.

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