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What's Phil Jackson's free agent strategy and can Melo help?

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Can Carmelo help lure players to New York? (1:46)

ESPN New York's Ian Begley offers his take on Carmelo Anthony stating his desire to help lure players to the Knicks and whether it will be an effective recruiting tactic. (1:46)

Will Carmelo Anthony's presence help the Knicks in free agency?

It should. Having a star player on hand to push a franchise's selling points can only enhance the pitch.

But the most important guy in the room for the Knicks this summer will be Phil Jackson. It will ultimately be on Jackson to convince an elite free agent to come to New York. And it won't be an easy sell.

The Knicks probably will miss the playoffs this season, which would mark the third straight year without a playoff game for the franchise. Entering Tuesday's game against the Denver Nuggets, the Knicks are 12 games under .500. That makes them a combined 60 games under .500 since the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

So Jackson will be asking 2016 free agents to take a leap of faith -- and a pay cut -- to join him in New York.

How will the Zen Master make his pitch?


If last summer is any indication, Jackson will try to accomplish the following:
1. Get to know the player a bit by discussing some off-court topics
2. Reveal some details about his vision for the Knicks
3. Get into a conversation on the club's triangle offense.

That's how it went for Greg Monroe, DeAndre Jordan and Robin Lopez in July.

"For the longest time, nothing really basketball-related was discussed," Lopez said of his 2015 dinner meeting with Jackson and the Knicks in Los Angeles. "We talked a little bit about culture. He discussed some books he'd been reading, I talked about some movies I'd watched. ... It was nice and it was a little intimidating, because it was Phil Jackson."

The conversation with Lopez then turned to the triangle offense. Jackson, GM Steve Mills and then-head coach Derek Fisher showed Lopez about 10-15 slides of the offense.

"He knew I had an idea of what to expect because I played against the Lakers when I was in Phoenix," Lopez said. "I think this was just to kind of give me a refresher."

"Phil was great, it was one of my best meetings. He's such a smart man, such a deep thinker, that you want to be a part of that. He's won, he proven it.... He made it tough to say no."

DeAndre Jordan on Phil Jackson

Jordan received a similar pitch during his meeting with the Knicks.

"They showed me some things, how I'd fit in in that offense and what I would do to excel as a player and what we'd do to excel as a team," he said. "The message [from Jackson] was just for me to be an all-around player and improve my game as much as I could."

Jordan came away impressed with the presentation.

"Phil was great; it was one of my best meetings," he said. "He's such a smart man, such a deep thinker, that you want to be a part of that. He's won, he proven it. ... He made it tough to say no."

But he did. So did Monroe and Aldridge and any other big names in the free agent class of 2015.

Jackson landed Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, Kyle O'Quinn and Kevin Seraphin in free agency last summer. At the time, it was considered a solid but unspectacular haul.

Jackson's biggest addition came in late June, of course, when he selected Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick of the draft.

The Knicks president will have no such luxury in his second true foray into free agency. The club is sending its first-round pick to Toronto to complete the 2013 Andrea Bargnani trade.

So this summer's free agency is a pivotal one for Jackson.


The Knicks will have at least $18 million to spend this offseason on a class that includes Kevin Durant and Al Horford. They will have to spend wisely, because other teams will have more space to use thanks to the rising salary cap.

The big question is whether the Knicks, under Jackson, have a chance at landing one of the elite players on the market.

Along those lines, one name to keep in mind this summer is Dwight Howard.

Some of Howard's friends have let it be known recently that the center would be interested in coming to New York as a free agent if he opts out of his current contract, league sources say.

Whether Jackson and the Knicks would be interested in a player like Howard is another question entirely.

Whomever the Knicks decide to meet with this summer shouldn't expect any theatrics from Jackson.

"He was real laid back," Monroe said of Jackson during his Washington, D.C., meeting with the Knicks. "He was just talking to me as a person, mostly. It was pretty normal. He was just trying to get to know me a little bit. He told me some stuff about him, how he got to this point."

Jackson arrived at this point, of course, by winning 11 titles as an NBA head coach. If he wants to guide the Knicks in that direction, he'll have to make an impact this summer in free agency.

As nice as it is to have Carmelo Anthony at the table, it will ultimately be up to Jackson to attract some talent to New York.