Knicks part ways with Phil Jackson
The New York Knicks have finally banished Phil Jackson to the Bermuda Triangle.
The legendary coach, who has had a rough go of it as New York’s lead executive, was in the midst of a 5-year, $60 million deal, but the two sides agreed to part ways. According to ESPN, members of the organization were pushing owner James Dolan to consider this move during the season.
The 71-year-old Jackson had recently engaged in public spats with the Knicks’ highest profile players. He tried to get Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause, and he entertained trading young big man Kristaps Porzingis during the 2017 NBA Draft.
Much of the dissatisfaction regarding Porzingis stemmed from how the 7-foot-3 Latvian handled the Knicks’ dysfunctional nature. In a sign of protest, he skipped the exit interview, leading Jackson to take calls for Porzingis’ services.
This decision making led to angst among those inside and outside of the organization. "Well, I think, we know what we’re doing,” Jackson said in a recent MSG interview. “That’s what I can say to them. Although it’s not been apparent in our record the last couple of years, we’ve grown from within. We’ve got young players who are on their move up.”
Jackson, however, was fielding trade calls on the team’s most promising young player. This action put into question his vision for “the future.”
The Knicks lost 166 games during Jackson’s three years in control of the Knicks. In addition to signing and attempting to trade Anthony, Jackson was also responsible for handing out a 4-year, $72 million contract to oft-injured center Joakim Noah.
Dolan will now rely on general manager Steve Mills, who will remain in his current role as the team heads into free agency. Head coach Jeff Hornacek will also seemingly regain more control of the team. During the season, Jackson was vocal about getting the team to instill more of his Triangle Offense.
At the very least, the Knicks should be able to garner meetings with potential free agents in the future. Jackson’s handling of multiple Knicks, including a failure to discipline point guard Derrick Rose after he skipped a game during the season, cast doubt on the team’s functionality.
It’s hard to imagine pending free agents would have wanted to partake in this Madison Square Garden circus. For the time being, the Knicks will seek stability. Should the team struggle under Mills, the Knicks have groomed former player Allan Houston for an executive role.
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