If the report of Phil Jackson agreeing "in principle" to oversee the Knicks' front office wasn't reassurance enough for New York fans worried about being left at the altar, maybe confirmation from their team's best player will do the trick.
After the New York Post reported Tuesday night that the Hall of Fame coach had verbally agreed to become president of the team's basketball operations, Carmelo Anthony felt free enough to weigh in on the subject and reveal that he's also heard Jackson-to-the-Knicks is all but a done deal.
“I still don’t have a lot of the details, all the details. Have I heard? Yeah, I heard he will be coming on board, not official yet,” Anthony told the New York Daily News. “You can always use Phil Jackson inside an organization, his philosophy, his mindset, his résumé, what he brings to a team, what he brings to an organization. That goes without even saying, so we’ll see how that plays out.
“You can’t take for granted what he knows about the game of basketball, whether he’s on the sideline or in the front office," Anthony continued. "I’m sure he will try to his best to do what he has to do to try to build a championship team. He knows how to put guys together, put a team together. We’ll see what happens, but I haven’t talked to him, haven’t talked to anyone about the front office about their plans or anything like that.”
According to The Post, lawyers are still working out the details of Jackson's contract, but are expected to finalize the agreement by the end of the week. The paper also reveals details of what the Knicks' new front office will look like:
Knicks president/general manager Steve Mills will remain on board in a revised role and work with Jackson. Knicks owner James Dolan hired Mills because of his vast network of contacts with NBA agents and GMs. That isn’t the strong suit of Jackson, winner of 11 titles as coach of the Bulls and Lakers.
Some complications still need to resolved. According to the report, the Knicks and Jackson are working out living arrangements, as he prefers his California home over New York. He's also reportedly seeking $11 million to 12 million a year, a hefty sum for even the Knicks, but one he earned during his second-to-last season with the Lakers.
The Knicks are in the midst of a disastrous season. Despite winning four consecutive games, the Knicks are only 25-40 record, 3½ games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Anthony can become a free agent this summer, representing a top agenda item for Jackson if he's 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.