New York Knicks: Phil Jackson

Position analysis: Point guard

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:54
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Pablo PrigioniJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesPablo Prigioni, a savvy veteran who can provide outside shooting, is still under contract.
Now that free agency has died down, we’re taking a look at where the Knicks currently stand position-by-position. Today, we look at point guard.

POINT GUARD

New additions: PG Jose Calderon, PG Shane Larkin.

Returning/on roster: PG Pablo Prigioni

Gone: PG Raymond Felton, PG/SG Shannon Brown, PG Beno Udrih.

The starter: Calderon. Acquired in the Felton and Tyson Chandler trade to Dallas, the Knicks improved their shooting at the point guard position. It remains to be seen how Calderon does defensively for the Knicks. He could struggle to defend but the Knicks are expecting Calderon to improve the team’s chemistry in addition to the shooting.

The wild card: Larkin. Also acquired in the Dallas trade, Larkin was the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft. He played in just 48 games, averaging 2.8 points in 10.2 minutes per game. But the Knicks have a young, albeit small at 5-11, point guard to develop. Perhaps Larkin could be a spark on some nights.

Outlook: The Knicks did upgrade at point guard by bringing in Calderon after Felton struggled mightily last season. Calderon also could be a much better fit in the triangle than the underachieving Felton. Calderon averaged 11.4 points, 45.6% shooting overall and made 44.9% of his shots from behind the three-point arc last season. He also averaged 4.7 assists for the Mavs. Felton shot just 39.5% from the field and 31.8% from three-point land. Prigioni shot 46.4% from behind the arc last season. With the Knicks going to a triangle this season, Calderon and Prigioni may be counted on for their outside shooting. Phil Jackson’s point guards in the past often were more spot-up shooters like John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong. The point guard that will make the biggest difference on the team is the one who is retired -– Derek Fisher. Even though he is coaching for the first time in his career, Fisher brings a wealth of championship experience, toughness and leadership. If Fisher can transfer that to the team from the sidelines, the Knicks’ point guard play can only get better after last season.

Question: How do you think the Knicks did at point guard this offseason?

Are you optimistic about Bargnani?

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
12:15
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Andrea BargnaniJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesLast season, the 'Bockers were better off with Andrea Bargnani on the bench. But Phil Jackson says he might "surprise" next season. Agree?
By most measures, Andrea Bargnani's season with the Knicks last year was a forgettable one.

New York’s offense was 6.8 points better (per 100 possessions) when Bargnani was on the bench. On defense, the Knicks allowed one fewer point per 100 possessions when Bargnani was off the court.

And then there’s this: The Knicks went 15-27 before Bargnani went down with an elbow injury and finished the season 21-18 after he got hurt.

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It's unfair to put that all on Bargnani, but it doesn't reflect well on the former No. 1 overall pick.

"He just never seemed to be a good fit," one NBA scout said of Bargnani last season.

But when viewed through the prism of individual statistics, Bargnani’s 2013-14 season doesn’t seem so terrible. He averaged 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, numbers the Knicks probably would have signed up for when they acquired Bargnani last summer.

The bigger issue last season for Bargnani was that he never fit well on the floor with Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks hoped Bargnani could be a strong secondary scoring option. That didn’t happen.

New York outscored teams by 3.5 points per 100 possessions when Anthony was on the court without Bargnani. But when Anthony and Bargnani shared the floor, the Knicks were outscored by 3.9 points per 100 possessions.

Maybe that was one reason, along with his salary, that Bargnani was deemed expendable earlier this summer by the Knicks. The Knicks’ hierarchy tried to ship Bargnani out, along with one of their guards, in an effort to shed his $11.5 million salary and free up some money for then-free agent Pau Gasol, sources say.

Either New York couldn’t find an amenable trade partner or couldn't construct a deal to its liking because Bargnani is still a Knick and Gasol is with the Chicago Bulls.

It is unclear if Bargnani is still on the trading block.

Phil Jackson said last week he thinks Bargnani will “surprise” some people this season. He also called the seven-footer “overlooked.”

“We think he's going to really do well in the kind of system we have,” Jackson said in an interview on MSG Network. “We've got a couple guards he likes to play with in Jose [Calderon] and Pablo [Prigioni] because he's played with them before in situations. I think he's going to be a surprise and I think he's going to be a pleasant one for our fans.”

Some see Jackson and Derek Fisher's triangle offense as a panacea for Bargnani. If he can knock down the open shots produced by the triangle, the theory goes, maybe Bargnani can have a successful run in his second season in New York?

(That theory ignores that Bargnani isn't a strong passer and doesn't move well -- two essential skills in the triangle.)

Offense, though, hasn't been Bargnani's biggest issue over eight years in the league. Defense and rebounding have also held him back -- maybe to a larger degree than any drawbacks he has on the offensive end.

So Fisher and the Knicks will have to figure out not only how to get Bargnani open looks on offense but also how to overcome his porous perimeter defense and spotty rebounding.

And, oh yeah, they’ll also have to find a way to incorporate him on offense without hindering Carmelo.

Is that possible? Sure. Anything's possible. But, based on last season, it doesn't seem all that likely.

Question: Do you agree with Jackson when it comes to Bargnani? Do you think Bargnani can be a “surprise” for the Knicks this season? Or should they look to trade him?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Phil details how Dolan removed doubts

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
2:53
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Jackson
Jackson
Before Phil Jackson decided to try to lead the Knicks to the Promised Land, he and Jim Dolan had “a meeting of the minds” in the desert.

In an excerpt of his book “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty” which appears in the New York Daily News, Jackson details how two meetings with Dolan led to his return to the Knicks as team president.

Jackson wrote about how Irving Azoff, a music industry executive who manages The Eagles among others, set up his meeting with Dolan at Azoff’s birthday party. Jackson says he and Dolan spoke about “the plight of the Knicks for an hour or so” in early December before deciding to pick up their conversation again after the holidays at Jerry’s Deli, a New York style deli in Marina Del Rey, Calif.

There, Jackson and Dolan spoke about what exact role he would want if he joined the Knicks and how he’d “need to know what was happening on a daily basis.”

Jackson writes that Steve Mills flew to Los Angeles and the two devised a plan for how they could work together as team president and general manager.

What intrigued me about the job was the opportunity to re-create the culture from the ground up, much as I had hoped to do with the ill-starred franchise in Seattle. Jim had pledged to give me full authority over the basketball operations and a free hand to make whatever changes were necessary to bring another championship to New York.


Jackson though wondered about the Knicks’ dismal situation with high-priced salaries that hampered their salary cap situation and a lack of assets like first-round picks.

Before Jackson signed on, he decided to take Dolan and Mills on a ride through the desert near Palm Springs. Dolan asked Jackson to “design an outdoor adventure” for the three and Jackson had a guide lead them through “a wild chase across the desert in all-terrain vehicles to see how much future colleagues would respond to hostile territory.”

That trip removed any doubts I had about moving forward. Under the clear desert sky, Jim and I had a meeting of the minds and we set a date in mid-March for my return to the Knicks.

When I arrived in New York, my first job was to stabilize the direction of the Knicks and get everybody in the organization speaking in one voice about where we were headed. I wasn’t talking about making a quick turnaround, but building a strong, sustainable future for the team based on the principles of teamwork and selflessness outlined in this book.

For me, the key is building trust. I don’t want to be the kind of president who huddles privately with the GM and keeps everyone else in the dark. In my new role, I’m not going to be as hands-on with the team as I was as a coach, but I can open up the circle and make sure everybody with good ideas gets a chance to be heard.

We have some talented people in this organization, but they need more direction. Our scouts and analysts also need to align the tons of information on potential prospects they churn out every day with our long-range vision for the team. To that end, we’re planning to analyze every team in the league and figure out as a group what’s driving them, so that we can make moves now that will make sense three to five years down the road.


Jackson said he also wants to address the “team’s culture of indifference” and “re-establish the sense of professional responsibility.”

Resilience isn’t the Knicks’ biggest problem, however. When I talked to the players in the postseason, many of them said that they really liked their teammates off-court, but not everybody was on the same page when they hit the floor. And, contrary to media reports, they didn’t blame the coach for their lack of harmony; they blamed themselves. They hadn’t been willing, they confessed, to make the sacrifices necessary to join together as a team.


Jackson knows the task that lies ahead of him is as tall as the Empire State Building. And he knows the good feelings created by his arrival to New York will soon disappear if the Knicks don’t turn things around.

No question, I have a big job ahead of me. Now that we’ve hired Derek Fisher as the new head coach, we need to bring in a some new players to complement Carmelo (who has decided to stay with the Knicks), change the team chemistry and give the team more of the grit and character New York is famous for. Derek was an exceptional leader when he played for me on the Lakers and I’m certain he’ll inspire the players to meld together and play the game the right way.

Soon, the honeymoon will be over. I can already sense the sharks circling in the water. But that doesn’t bother me. What matters now is waking up every morning and getting a chance to do something I’ve always dreamed of: re-awakening the team that Red Holzman built, the team that changed my life forever.

Melo's back, so what's next for Knicks?

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
10:02
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Phil Jackson has landed Carmelo Anthony. So what’s next?

Below, we take a brief look at what Carmelo’s re-signing means for the New York Knicks and how Jackson may use his flexibility going forward.

Summer of 2014: The Knicks are in a tough spot when it comes to the salary cap. The specific details of Carmelo’s contract have not been released, but it’s safe to assume that Anthony’s deal leaves the Knicks over the salary cap.

Unless Phil makes a roster-shifting trade, the Knicks will have only the taxpayer’s midlevel exception and the veteran’s minimum exception to offer free agents.

The taxpayer’s midlevel exception starts at $3.27 million and can be used in a contract that extends as long as three seasons. It can also be split among players. Veteran’s minimum exceptions can be as long as two seasons. The value of the contract is based on that player’s years of service.

Jackson said on Sunday that the Knicks would be prudent in their spending for the rest of the summer and seasons beyond. He wants the Knicks to avoid paying the luxury tax, something they have done in each season since the new CBA was ratified in 2011-12.

“I want to be fiscally responsible,” Jackson said. “We’ve been a taxpayer team for a little bit and we want to limit that.”

With nine guards currently on the roster, Jackson will look to balance things out by adding a big man.

Maybe Trevor Booker or Kris Humphries will be interested in playing for new Knicks coach Derek Fisher? That’s something to keep an eye on in the coming days and weeks.

Here’s another aspect to consider: In the days prior to Carmelo re-signing, Jackson shopped forwards Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani in trade talks in an effort to clear cap space to entice Pau Gasol to sign with New York, sources say.

Gasol is now in Chicago, so it’s logical to assume that those talks are now dead. But a source with knowledge of the Knicks’ thinking said recently that Jackson still wants to add talent around Anthony, and Anthony has let it be known that he wants to win as quickly as possible.

So it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Jackson continued to shop Stoudemire and Bargnani. The issue, of course, is finding a team that will take either player without having to sacrifice a valuable piece such as Tim Hardaway Jr. in the process.

Also worth noting when it comes to trades: The Knicks have a $3.7 million trade exception courtesy of the Raymond Felton-Tyson Chandler trade. This allows the Knicks to bring back $3.7 million via a trade for one or more players without having to match salaries.

Summer of 2015: This is when Carmelo taking less money will help the Knicks. New York currently has six players under contract for the 2015-16 season.

Jackson said on Sunday that Carmelo took less than maximum money early in his contract to help the Knicks.

But since we don’t yet know the exact figure, let’s assume Carmelo makes maximum money in 2015-16 for the purposes of this story. If that’s the case, he will earn $24.1 million that season.

His salary, combined with the salaries of Jose Calderon, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert (qualifying offer), Hardaway Jr. (team option) and Shane Larkin (team option) equal $44.5 million.

The Knicks will also have a first-round pick that season. Let’s assume, for the purposes of this exercise, that pick makes $1.6 million in 2015-16.

Let’s also assume the Knicks renounce any free agents they have that summer. Those five roster spots would be replaced by cap holds totaling $2.6 million.

Add that to the salaries above and you get $48.7 million in committed salaries. Again, that’s assuming Carmelo is making max money in Year 2 of his deal.

So how much cap space would this leave the Knicks?

The cap this season was set at $63 million, an increase of nearly 7.5 percent from last season. So let’s assume the 2015-16 cap will be $65 million, a conservative estimate.

This would give the Knicks about $16.3 million in cap space. This is where Anthony’s pay cut looms large. If Anthony accepts less money in Year 2 of his deal, it gives the Knicks added financial flexibility in the summer of 2015, when they hope to be able to lure a star to play alongside Anthony.

This is crucial because a player like Memphis’ Marc Gasol will be eligible for a max salary of at least $16.4 million in the summer of 2015.

So the Knicks will be able to afford Gasol at the max, if they wish, thanks to Anthony’s salary -- assuming the cap increases at a similar rate next season that it did this season.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Melo deal allows Phil more 'wiggle room'

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
8:29
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LAS VEGAS -- Carmelo Anthony is coming back to New York, as the Knicks announced Sunday afternoon, and for the first time, we know some of the more intimate details of the contract.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported Saturday that the deal would be somewhere “north of $122 million.” Sunday, Phil Jackson insinuated the deal could pay Anthony less early in the contract.

“He did exactly what we kind of asked him to do,” Jackson explained. “Give us a break in the early part of his contract so that when we have some wiggle room next year, which is hopefully big enough wiggle room, we can exploit it.”

Like everything else, paying Anthony less in the first two years of the deal would be about providing flexibility for the 2015 offseason, when the Knicks have loads of money coming off the books.

Often, when signing a player Anthony’s age, you’ll see a team push for a contract that decreases in salary. By the time a five-year deal would run out, a 35-year-old Anthony will surely be less effective than he is today. Essentially, the Knicks would be paying more down the road for less production -- though with today’s medicine and Melo’s history of good health, a dip in Anthony’s production may not be all too extreme as his age advances to his mid-30s.

Still, it’s a calculated move to make, considering the Knicks' prioritizing of next offseason, and Jackson’s statement does shed a bit of light onto the financial mentality of a new regime.

“I want to be fiscally responsible,” he says. “We’ve been a taxpayer team for a little bit and we want to limit that.”

There’s a difference between being cheap and being frugal, intelligently spending when necessary. If a team isn’t going to be a championship contender, and Jackson has said time and time again the Knicks are far from that, then what would be the point of becoming a team that pays a repeater tax?

That’s why the Knicks, who still have the mini midlevel exception (which allows them to offer up to a $3.3 million contract), may not take advantage of all their assets. In Jackson’s words, “We’re not just going to foolishly throw money away because it’s available to us.”

The Knicks are preparing for a scenario to save some money, concerned most about their future.

Maybe, though, they do find someone who will take that $3.3 million exception on a short deal. After all, Jackson hardly denies they have weaknesses.

“We want to get aggressive with our big guys,” says the 11-time champ, providing some insight into the Knicks’ offseason strategy. “We want to provide some support back behind Melo. He carried a lot of minutes. We have a young guy in [Cleanthony] Early that’s looking good, but he’s still green. So, want to provide some support there. We need some rebounding.”

Anthony’s increasing deal wouldn’t be as burdensome as it might seem down the line, especially if the seven-time All-Star is still scoring and rebounding at all-world levels. Once the current collective bargaining agreement expires after 2016, the salary cap is expected to skyrocket. That will help teams that have guys signed to the current max (or in Melo’s case, close to the current max).

Either way, with the return of Anthony, the Knicks finally have some glue to get other superstars to stick, and if everything truly is about the 2015 offseason, then that’s a necessary move.

You can follow Fred Katz on Twitter.
Fisher/JacksonAP Photo/Seth WenigCarmelo Anthony did his part. Now, it's on Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson to build a winner.
Carmelo Anthony spent hours talking with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. He listened to persuasive pitches from the Rockets and Mavericks. He contemplated what life in Hollywood would be like alongside best friend Kobe Bryant.

He might have even allowed himself to fantasize about teaming up with LeBron James somewhere.

But after a long -- and perhaps agonizing -- wait for the Knicks, Melo is staying in New York.

He chose Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and the New York Knicks.

No matter what his reasons were for staying –- at least $122 million in salary, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the intoxicating feeling of being The Man in New York and playing on the Garden stage, or the idea of leading the Knicks to a long-awaited championship under Jackson -- Melo turned down multiple opportunities to compete for a title right now.

Instead of going for the instant fix and joining a team like ready-to-contend Chicago, Melo opted to be patient. He followed a Zen Master virtue.

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So now that Melo has said yes to Phil’s plan, it’s all on Jackson and Fisher to deliver. Anthony listened to what Jackson and Fisher sold on their vision for turning around the Knicks. And he bought in.

Sure, Anthony still has to show he can play in the triangle and may have to make adjustments to his game much like Michael Jordan and Kobe once did for Jackson. But he could've taken his career 25.3 points per game elsewhere.

Now Jackson and Fisher have their first season together without the weight of win-now expectations. Melo signed on knowing the deal: The Knicks aren’t expected to be serious contenders this season. Anthony knows he’ll have to wait until next summer or maybe the trading deadline at the earliest before the Knicks can add some more serious firepower.

Who knows? Fisher could get the Knicks to the playoffs this season with a healthy and motivated core of Anthony, J.R. Smith, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert and Jose Calderon –- assuming Jackson doesn’t pull any more rabbits out of his magic hat this summer. And Fisher and Anthony will have a season to learn one another in the triangle and build a formidable union.

Meanwhile, Jackson will spend this season learning the ropes of being an NBA executive, acclimating to the landscape of general managers and agents.

Jackson’s first few months on the job have seen some wins and losses. He lost out on Steve Kerr as coach and his Lamar Odom signing didn't last past July. But he got Anthony to stay (a major win), hired Fisher, traded Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton and drafted Cleanthony Early in the second round.

Melo’s return also puts some of the onus on Jim Dolan. Right now, Jackson and Dolan are still in the honeymoon phase of their working relationship -- another part of the risk Melo is taking by re-signing with the Knicks. There are no guarantees Jackson will be able to lure another star to New York next year, and you can never predict what Dolan will do.

Back in 2003, Jason Kidd spurned San Antonio and Tim Duncan to stay with the Nets. He hoped to continue building a title contender of his own in New Jersey. But not too long after the ink had dried on his max contract, the Nets were sold to new ownership, Kenyon Martin wasn’t re-signed the next summer and New Jersey never got back to the NBA Finals.

Dolan likely isn’t going to sell the Knicks, but he can be hands-on with basketball decisions. Dolan has said he will let Jackson handle all basketball moves, but will he keep his word?

By next summer, Melo must hope Jackson and Dolan will be on the same page, that Fisher will be every bit as good as Phil believes and that Jackson will be able to execute his vision as planned. The Bulls, Mavericks, Rockets and Lakers all spelled out their plans for the future to Melo. Anthony hopes the Knicks' plan will be the right one.

A year from now, Fisher and Jackson will not only be stronger and more experienced at what they do but they hopefully will have something to sell to another star player on how potent their potential can be alongside Melo.

And by next summer, Jackson, Fisher and Anthony will have a better idea of the Eastern Conference landscape. LeBron staying in the East and joining Cleveland’s stable of No. 1 overall picks makes Jackson’s task of winning a title daunting.

But as LeBron smartly stated in his essay in Sports Illustrated, the Cavs could have plenty of growing pains with a stable of talented former No. 1 overall picks that haven’t won anything yet. With LeBron out of Miami, the East is open again -- at least until James' team of the future matures and learns how to win, or if Kevin Love lands in Ohio.

It would have been easy for Anthony to counter LeBron’s move and say yes to Chicago. Anthony could’ve chosen to battle LeBron for years with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Thibs. Like a cup of noodles, all the Bulls needed was to add Melo to make an instant title contender. But there are no guarantees Rose’s body will hold up.

So Melo put his trust in Jackson and his ability to build him a stellar supporting cast.

Jackson might make Anthony better, too. Perhaps Jackson, with Fisher's assistance, can help Melo follow in MJ’s and Kobe’s footsteps as incredible individual scoring talents who bought into the Zen Master’s methods and preaching to win their championships.

If after a year or two Anthony doesn’t like what he sees, he can always demand a trade and still get the money he wanted and land with a contender.

But Melo is taking a chance, hoping to blaze his own trail and cement his legacy in the concrete jungle.

"In the end, I am a New York Knick at heart," Anthony said in a statement on his website announcing his return. "I am looking forward to continue my career in Orange & Blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams."

He put his trust in the triangle tandem. Now Phil and Fish have to do their part.

Knicks aren't totally out of Gasol race

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
11:45
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The Knicks aren’t totally out of the Pau Gasol race, but they’re certainly not leading it.

According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, Gasol is giving strong consideration to signing with defending champion San Antonio if the Bulls can’t acquire him via a sign-and-trade.

A report late Friday night stated that Chicago was close to coming to an agreement with the Spanish big man.

This leaves the Knicks appearing to be out of contention for Gasol.

Gasol turned down Lakers offers of two years worth $23 million, and three years worth $29 million, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin. Gasol turned down both offers, according to the source.

The Knicks would only be able to offer Gasol their $3.3 million tax payers exception.

Sources say that Phil Jackson had tried in recent days to clear cap space by talking to teams about trading Amar'e Stoudemire and Pau Gasol. The Knicks and Lakers were also mulling a sign-and-trade for Gasol but no deals came to fruition.

The Bulls' pursuit of Gasol could have an impact on Carmelo Anthony.

If the Bulls ink Gasol as a free agent, it would cut into the cap space they have to offer Anthony. If they receive him a sign-and-trade, it would take away some pieces they have to offer the Knicks in a sign-and-trade for Anthony. So a Gasol signing seems to make it more difficult for Chicago to obtain Anthony, but it wouldn’t totally eliminate the Bulls from contention.

For more details on Gasol, click here.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Fisher wins in summer league debut

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
7:38
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Derek Fisher’s jitters should be over -- for now.

The newly minted New York Knicks coach has finally manned his first game on the sidelines, presiding over New York’s 76-64 win over the Dallas Mavericks to kick off Las Vegas Summer League.

“It was a great feeling,” Fisher said after the game. “There was definitely some emotion coming into the building today and this morning. I started to really think about what this meant.”

What it means is that one of Phil Jackson’s former locker room leaders will join a short list of players who have made the immediate jump to coaching, a trend which is becoming more popular in recent years.

As Jackson and Alan Houston watched from the stands behind the Knicks bench, Fisher roamed the sidelines in his Vegas-appropriate khaki shorts and grey polo, commanding the Knicks unsurprising triangle offense.

“The players made me look probably better than I am right now,” hypothesized the always modest Fisher. “But the same way that I asked them to work hard and continue the things they need to do to get better, that’s what I’ll do.”

Of course, Fisher isn’t in this alone. A first-time head coach can’t come in an immediately expect to make an impact. That’s why you see all these young coaches latching onto experienced assistants in their inaugural seasons.

Jason Kidd had Lawrence Frank last year with the Brooklyn Nets. Freshly minted Golden State coach Steve Kerr has brought in the experienced Alvin Gentry. Fisher, meanwhile, has Kurt Rambis, a long-time Jackson assistant who has been a head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves. Even with help on the bench, the first-time coach admits that summer league is a learning process for everyone.

“We’re cramming months-worth of information into these guys in four days and trying to get them out here ready to play,” says Fisher, who isn’t in a much different position than the players, himself. “It’s not an easy task.”

Reax: What LeBron means for Knicks, Melo

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
1:25
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The King is returning to his old throne in Cleveland.

Here's what LeBron James' decision to head back to the Cavs means for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks.

New beast in East: Phil Jackson's task of building a winner in New York may have gotten a bit more difficult.

James' move leaves the Heat in tatters (particularly if Chris Bosh heads to Houston) and gives the Cavs a chance to be the new superpower in the East.

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So what does this mean for Phil's Knicks? It creates another roadblock to creating a title contender.

Instead of battling an aging Heat team, the Knicks now have to get past a Cavs team centered on James and new sidekick Kyrie Irving. It will take a talented group of Knicks to do so.

What about Melo? One aspect of Carmelo's decision was that he might be able to team with LeBron somewhere.

With King James in Cleveland, that scenario is highly unlikely.

So Carmelo's decision now boils down to the Knicks and Bulls, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. The Lakers are out of the mix, Smith reports.

One factor to consider here: How will LeBron's move to Cleveland impact how Carmelo views the Bulls? Will he be more or less willing to join a team in the same division as James?

The Knicks have offered Anthony the most money -- a five-year, $129 million pact. The Lakers have offered Anthony a max contract worth $97 million over four years. The Bulls appear to give Anthony the best chance to win immediately. According to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, Anthony has been considering the Bulls as an option in recent days.

The Bulls would need to execute a sign-and-trade with the Knicks to acquire Anthony.

Does LeBron's decision make you more or less confident that Melo will return to the Knicks? Vote in our poll above and add your comments below.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Phil wants Pau Gasol in New York

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
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Carmelo Anthony may be the hot name, but there is another sleeper on the market for the New York Knicks: free-agent center Pau Gasol.

Gasol’s name has become a trendy choice for Phil Jackson’s team over the past few weeks, especially since the Knicks acquired fellow Spaniard Jose Calderon from the Dallas Mavericks as part of a larger deal involving Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Of course, the roots of these theories start with Jackson, for whom Gasol played under for four years with the Los Angeles Lakers. The two still have a close relationship today.

[+] EnlargePhil Jackson
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesPhil Jackson would love to team up again with his former big man Pau Gasol in New York.
“He had a birthday,” Jackson said of Gasol, who turned 34 years old on July 6. “I stayed away from communicating with him until it was an opportunity to talk. We talked a couple times.”

So what’s stopping the Knicks from welcoming Gasol to New York right away? As usual, it’s all about the money.

“We’d like to be in the ballpark of where he’s getting contracts offered,” Jackson said of New York’s strategy. “I anticipate it’s going to be somewhere, you know, $10 million [per year] and above.”

The Knicks are only a hair under the cap as is, and if Anthony returns, that sends the team into the no-man’s land of the capology world, leaving it without room to operate in signing other free agents. Jackson, meanwhile, says that moving money to create more room is “not possible.”

The 11-time champion would have to move pieces more craftily than Bobby Fischer to create room to sign the four-time All-Star.

“Everything’s pretty much set,” he said of the roster. “We’ve run around a little bit, tried to figure out a lot of different strategies, but right now, we’re pretty set.”

Speaking with reporters after the Knicks’ Thursday summer league practice, Jackson was his usual self. The Knicks may not have the money to appeal to Gasol, but as Jackson spun it, they have the culture.

“We don’t have that kind of money, but we have what Pau needs: the United Nations,” scoffed the 11-time champ with a smile and chuckle. “He’s an ambassador for the United Nations. ... We say, that’s a platform, and pretty soon, you’d be secretary of the United Nations.”

Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game for a 27-win Lakers team last season. Even after 13 NBA seasons, he can still play, and if the Knicks could find some magical way to add him, it would only help their chances in a light Eastern Conference, where seemingly everyone is just a couple moves away from becoming a contender.

“He knows what he has here and what is possible,” explained Jackson. “I think he’d like to play with Carmelo, and I think he’d like to play for a winner, and we can’t guarantee that. But with him, we’d guarantee a much better chance.”

Phil says no fuss over Buss: While speaking with reporters Thursday, Jackson also talked about the potential awkwardness between himself and fiancée Jeanie Buss, owner of the Lakers, both aggressively pursuing Carmelo Anthony in free agency.

“We talked about this before. We’re going to be in a place where there are going to be players who both of us want, and we just have to deal with it. We’ll put our best pitch forward, and we just accept that as part of the game. It is what it is. I think these owners, and the position that I’m in, you have to understand that it’s just part of the game.”

Max won't clog cap: Jackson also stated that Anthony accepting a maximum contract of five years, $129 million wouldn’t hamper the Knicks’ future plans.

“No. They’re amenable to what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Jackson said of Anthony and his advisers. “We will discuss it. It’s not a big thing. You guys have made a much bigger thing about this, about what would happen. It’s not really a big thing. It’s about percentages, less than 1 percent available in a series of dollars that go over a period of five years. So, it’s not a big deal. It just gives us more flexibility. That’s all.”

Knicks trying to ship Amar'e to Philly

July, 8, 2014
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Knicks president Phil Jackson has talked to multiple teams in recent days -– including the Philadelphia 76ers –- about moving Amar’e Stoudemire in an effort to clear more cap space this summer, sources say.

Moving Stoudemire and his $23.4 million contract would allow the Knicks to take back players in a sign-and-trade and could give them more money to offer free agents such as Pau Gasol.

The New York Post, which earlier reported the Knicks talks with Philly regarding Stoudemire, reports that the Knicks are unwilling to include Iman Shumpert in such a transaction.

An extra piece such as Shumpert may be a prerequisite for a deal with Philadelphia, which has $30 million in cap space and can take on a contract such as Stoudemire's. The Sixers have also been mentioned as a team willing to take back Jeremy Lin's contract from the Rockets.

A league source says Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr.'s name has also been discussed in some iterations of deals involving Stoudemire but the Knicks are not inclined to include the second-year shooting guard in any deals.

The source says the Knicks are also trying to move Andrea Bargnani and his $11.5 million salary in an effort to create cap space to make a run at free agents this summer.

All of this supports the notion that Jackson's intention is to try to rebuild the Knicks' roster as soon as possible instead of waiting until the summer of 2015 to reshape it.

It should be noted, however, that Stoudemire had an extremely strong finish to the season last year and is healthy this offseason for the first time in three summers. So his on-court value this season to the Knicks shouldn't be automatically dismissed.

Question: Do you think Phil should include Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr. in a deal to get Amar'e off of the books?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Knicks add Rambis as Fisher's No. 2

July, 7, 2014
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Kurt Rambis has been added to Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s staff as an associate head coach, the team announced on Monday.

Kurt Rambis
Rambis
Rambis will be Fisher’s No. 2 on the bench and is the first addition to the rookie coach’s staff.

“Together, Derek and I have started assembling a coaching staff to lead this team on and off the court,” Knicks president Phil Jackson said in a statement. “The three of us are similar in our philosophies and our approach to the game.”

Rambis has had three previous stints as an assistant coach for the Lakers, spanning 12 seasons in total. He worked in Los Angeles under Jackson and was an assistant when Fisher played for the Lakers.

“Kurt is exactly the type of person we want in our organization to help develop our culture of success,” Fisher said. “His vast knowledge and experience as a championship player and coach are traits that we embrace adding to our staff.”

Rambis also was the Lakers' head coach in 1998-99, going 24-13 after Del Harris was fired. He has a strong knowledge of the triangle offense, which the Knicks are expected to implement.

An assistant coach for the Lakers last season, Rambis interviewed with general manager Mitch Kupchak for the team's head-coaching position late last month. That job remains vacant.

Rambis, 56, went 32-132 in two seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rambis coached Kevin Love in Minnesota. Love and Rambis reportedly had some disagreements in Minnesota. It’s worth wondering if Rambis’ presence on the Knicks’ staff impacts their ability to land Love in free agency in the summer of 2015 -– if Love even makes it to free agency. There is speculation that Love will be traded from the Timberwolves to a team that he will re-sign with as a free agent. The Knicks are not in the mix to trade for Love.

Rambis also played for the Lakers for nine seasons (1981-88, 1993-95), winning four championships.

Rambis returns to New York 34 years after the team originally drafted him in the third round (58th overall) of the 1980 NBA Draft out of Santa Clara University, although he never appeared in a game for the Knicks. In 14 seasons, he played in 880 regular season games, averaging 5.2 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Lakers, original Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. With the Lakers, Rambis was a member of four NBA Championship teams over a seven-year span (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Source: Knicks feeling 'positive' about Melo

July, 5, 2014
Jul 5
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Carmelo Anthony Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesWill Carmelo Anthony stay or will he turn his back on New York? A source said the Knicks are feeling "positive" that he'll return following their meeting Thursday.
After their big sit-down with Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles on Thursday, the Knicks are feeling “positive” about their chances of re-signing him, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.

Anthony received Knicks president Phil Jackson’s message “well” during the meeting, in which the Knicks verbally offered Anthony a maximum contract worth $129 million over five years.

A Yahoo! Sports report Friday stated that Anthony and Jackson are "largely aligned."

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Anthony hadn’t made a decision as of early Saturday afternoon. He is taking the holiday weekend to mull over his offers, a source told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard.

Anthony has several offers to consider.

The Los Angeles Lakers have offered Anthony a maximum contract of $96 million over four seasons.

The Houston Rockets hope to put themselves in position to offer Anthony a max contract worth $96 million over four years.

The Chicago Bulls, another main suitor for Anthony, seem to be on the verge of signing European forward Nikola Mirotic, which would compromise their cap space and impact their offer to Anthony.

Such a move would not preclude the Bulls from acquiring Anthony as a free agent, but that route would almost certainly mean they would have to do it with a sign-and-trade using Carlos Boozer. That would require the Knicks' cooperation.

Broussard reported earlier this week that the Knicks would not be willing to participate in a sign-and-trade for Boozer.

The most Anthony could make if he was signed and traded would be $96 million over four years, per CBA sign-and-trade rules.

The Dallas Mavericks, another suitor, have about $17 million in cap space after signing Dirk Nowitzki to a three-year, $30 million deal. That cap space shrank further Saturday afternoon when they re-signed point guard Devin Harris.

So the Knicks' offer of $129 million over five years is the largest and longest of all of his suitors.

For what it's worth, Anthony has said he'd be willing to accept less than maximum money if it helped the team he signed with acquire free agents.

A league source confirmed that Anthony, if he re-signs with the Knicks, would still be open to taking less than maximum money, as the New York Post reported earlier Saturday.

Per CBA rules, a player's salary can decrease by as much as 7.5 percent per season. So if Anthony signs a max deal with the Knicks, he can accept a contract that pays him as little as $20.85 million. That’s a savings of $3.4 million compared with what Anthony would get in the second year of a max contract with maximum raises.

This kind of pay cut would give the Knicks $3.4 million more to spend on free agents in summer 2015, when they hope to attract a big-name player to suit up alongside Anthony.

But there are indications that Jackson is hoping to rebuild the roster for the 2014-15 season. One major development along these lines occurred shortly before the draft when Jackson flipped Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton for Mavs guards Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin, big man Samuel Dalembert and two second-round picks.

The Knicks also talked to teams about dealing Iman Shumpert prior to the NBA draft and have talked to at least one team about trading Amar'e Stoudemire, according to a source. Stoudemire is entering the final year of his contract this season and is scheduled to make $23.4 million. The trade and discussions of moving Shumpert and Stoudemire suggest Jackson is taking an aggressive approach to overhauling the Knicks' roster.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Phil Jackson puts in call to Pau Gasol

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
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New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has reached out to free agent Pau Gasol, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne.

Jackson contacted Gasol via phone. Jackson’s interest in Gasol is intriguing for Knicks fans, but it should be noted that Gasol made $19 million last season and the Knicks only have $3.3 million to offer him in free agency. So he would have to agree to a substantial paycut to join the Knicks.

New York will have plenty of competition for Gasol’s services.

Oklahoma City has emerged as a favorite to land him. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook met with Gasol, and the Thunder made a strong pitch to the Spanish big man, sources told ESPN.com.

Dallas, Golden State, Miami and Chicago have all expressed interest in Gasol.

The Knicks may be able to offer Gasol more than $3.3 million per season.

If the Knicks can cut some payroll from their current roster by trading away salary to a team with the cap space to absorb it, there is a chance they could become eligible for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. This exception would allow them to offer Gasol a salary starting at $5 million per season.

Gasol and Jackson are close so the center might be willing to give Jackson a discount. Gasol won two titles under Jackson in Los Angeles and thrived in the Zen Master’s triangle offense.

The Lakers center also told Yahoo! Sports in April that he’d be willing to listen if Jackson wanted to talk to him about coming to New York.

"I'm happy for him and the position that he got," Gasol said. "I'm always going to be a big fan and a friend. I would listen."

Gasol has also said that he'd be open to playing for less money on a contender next season.

For more details on Gasol’s recruitment, click here.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Melo, Jeanie Buss to meet? Awkward

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
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Things may get awkward between Phil Jackson and his fiancée, Jeanie Buss, on Thursday.

Buss’ Los Angeles Lakers are meeting with Carmelo Anthony and his representatives in Los Angeles on Thursday, and according to ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin, team president Jeanie Buss will be in the meeting.

Writes McMenamin:

“The Anthony pitch will be spearheaded by Lakers president Jeanie Buss, executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and Kupchak, according to a source with knowledge of the Lakers' plan.

"One key difference in the Lakers' pitch meeting with Anthony from the one they had with Dwight Howard last year will be the presence of Jeanie Buss, who has made it clear to the front office that she will do whatever is helpful to sell free agents on the franchise. The relationship between Jeanie Buss and brother Jim Buss has vastly improved in recent months, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.”

The Lakers aren’t viewed by many as high on Anthony’s list. But Anthony lives in Los Angeles and is close with Kobe Bryant, so those factors -- and whatever the Lakers plan to show him during their face-to-face meeting Thursday -- may sway Anthony’s opinion.

It is unclear if Bryant will be a part of Los Angeles’ pitch, but he told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that he will help recruit Carmelo to Los Angeles.

Jeanie Buss’ presence has the potential to create an awkward situation, because Jackson, of course, is hoping to convince Anthony to re-sign with the Knicks.

New York can offer Anthony the most money -- a five-year contract worth $129 million. Other suitors can give Anthony a maximum deal worth four years and $96 million. The Lakers will have the cap space to offer Anthony a max contract.

But if Anthony signs a max deal, he and Bryant will combine to make $46 million in 2014-15. The salary cap is projected at $62.5 million. It will be difficult for the Lakers to build a team around Anthony and Bryant at those salaries.

As far as any potential conflict of interest regarding Carmelo, Jeanie and Phil, the NBA said at the time of Phil’s hiring that the league has parameters in place “to ensure that the relationship between Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson will not affect how the teams operate."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2