New York Knicks get: President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson for five years, $60 million
Bockerknocker: Nobody needs to explain the current state of the New York Knicks. Similarly, nobody needs to explain that the hiring of Phil Jackson to run the basketball operations of a once-proud franchise is a good move. What this really means, however, is that owner James Dolan must be Straight-Shot scared that his good buddy Carmelo Anthony will really leave for greener pastures this offseason.
We’ve seen this tired act of “autonomy” given by Dolan before. Former wheelchair-bound general manager Donnie Walsh was given the directive of getting the Knicks out of the hole that Isiah Thomas continued to dig even after his ouster. But remember when Walsh was ready to pass on sending young players and quality draft picks to Denver for Anthony, knowing that the ready-to-leave superstar would sign in free agency? Dolan stepped in, mortgaged the future for a “me first” player, and autonomy was vanquished.
Jackson comes to the Apple with a much richer caché, of course, and is far more likely to hold Dolan to his word. But before he arrived, I, for one, assumed Anthony would stay for the money and for the ability to choose his next coach. Now, Jackson won’t allow that, and all the championship rings in the world won’t be able to convince Anthony that he should waste one of the final years of his prime in the hopes that Jackson will reload for 2016.
If Anthony does stay, it will be a testament to the team-first character of which Jackson believes is within Anthony, based on the role Anthony played on Team USA. It will also justify the hire without regard to whatever happens next. But one thing must be clear: the Bockers are still a 2016 team, at best. There is no amount of Zen that can change that.
KOBEsh: I only disagree on a couple of points, but overall, I’m completely with you—this was a solid, though unspectacular signing for the Knicks.
I’ll tow the line that everyone in New York is towing right now: it couldn’t get any worse, could it? The Knicks do not have their draft pick this year, having given up an unprotected pick to Denver (in the Anthony deal) that could certainly end up being in the top-10 for what’s considered a fantastic rookie class. They have one of the league’s highest payrolls for next year already, with little more than $50 million owed to the injury-riddled trio of Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler. The mismanagement of this squad is staggering and thus the direction Jackson takes from here certainly cannot make this squad any worse than it is now. The worst case scenario is the Zen Master simply prolonging the organization’s misery for another five years. If that’s the case, what’s another five years in comparison to what amounts to a hail mary pass by owner Dolan?
Jackson is a brilliant basketball mind with over forty years of experience in the NBA and a championship pedigree that could keep Anthony in New York during free agency this summer (albeit through a gargantuan sum of $130 million over five seasons). I have no doubt that even if the directive he has in mind isn’t the right one for the Knicks to take, that he at least has a plan that he now has the alleged autonomy to carry out. I can’t say that “planning” has been in New York’s long-view for several years now. At a very base level, we’re already looking at improvement within the Knicks front office.
My problems with this deal stem not only from Jackson’s inexperience with a front office role of any kind, but also from the fact that for $60 million, the Knicks surely could have lured someone else of repute, yes? Would Sam Presti come for that money? Would Mitch Kupchak? Would Daryl Morey? Would Steve Kerr? Would Gar Foreman? Maybe. I’m not entirely sure. But the person the Knicks wanted was someone with a name, not the experience. They surely could have gotten both with that type of money.
In the end, this seems to be a very Knicks-ian signing. Yes, it may end up working out and Jackson could surprise us all by being Pat Riley-in-hiding. However, it seems that the Knicks reached for a man who’s name precedes his actual ability in order to keep a potential free agent in town whose name precedes his actual ability. Funny how things work out sometimes. At the onset, it looks like a superficial move with high upside and very apparent downsides.