Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks are expected to finalize a deal by the end of the week, giving the Hall of Fame coach control of the team's front office, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard.
The latest report marks the most recent baby step toward an agreement between the legendary coach and the troubled franchise. On Sunday, it was reported that Jackson was 'leaning' toward accepting the job. Now, Broussard reports that the deal is now all but done, although an official announcement might not come until next week.
From ESPN's report:
"Everything is pretty much done," the source said. "There are just some little things here and there that need to be worked out, but the Knicks are very confident that this is essentially done."
It's not yet clear how the Hall of Fame coach will fit in with the Knicks, but Broussard reports the picture is beginning to come into focus. Jackson will serve as the team's head of basketball operations should the deal go through, while current Knicks president and GM Steve Mills will remain involved in the organization's decision-making, albeit in a different function. Knicks owner James Dolan tabbed Mills as New York’s president and general manager in December, displacing former GM Glen Grunwald.
New York is in the midst of a disastrous season. Despite winning four straight games, the Knicks are 25-40 record, 3½ games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony can become a free agent this summer, representing a top agenda item for whomever is calling the shots.
Earlier this month, the 68-year-old Jackson hinted that he was interested in returning to work and said that he has had “conversations” about getting back in the league.
“There are winners and losers in the NBA, and a lot of people are trying to reclaim their position or change their culture or whatever,” Jackson told USA Today Sports. “So yeah, there is [opportunity]. I’ve had conversations. Some of them are feelers. ‘Are you interested?’ type of thing.”
Those discussions stretch back to last year, when Jackson confirmed that he had discussed a potential front-office role with a number of organizations. Jackson served as a consultant for the Pistons during their recent coaching search, which ended with the hiring of Maurice Cheeks, who has since been fired. He was also briefly linked to the Raptors as a possible front-office candidate and he was also mentioned in rumors related to the Blazers and the Kings, had they relocated to Seattle.
In 20 years as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers, Jackson went 1,155-485 (.704). He ranks fifth all time in regular-season victories and he never missed the playoffs, winning six titles with the Bulls and five more with the Lakers. Jackson ranks first in postseason victories (229) and winning percentage (.688, 229-104).
Jackson was drafted by the Knicks in 1967 and spent 10 seasons with the franchise. New York won titles in 1970 and 1973, but Jackson was sidelined with a back injury during the first championship season.
In a 2012 interview with HBO’s Real Sports, Jackson told Andrea Kremer that the Knicks are “special” to him, given his history with the organization, but he added that the team’s roster was “clumsy” and that the main pieces “don’t fit together well.”
“[Amar'e] Stoudemire doesn’t fit together well with Carmelo,” Jackson said. “Stoudemire is a really good player. But he’s gotta play in a certain system and a way. Carmelo has to be a better passer. And the ball can’t stop every time it hits his hands. They need to have someone come in that can kinda blend that group together.”
SI.com's Ben Golliver contributed to this report.