May 4, 2012, 12:40 PM EDT
One year later, the New York Knicks are in exactly the same place — about to be swept out of the playoffs in the first round.
At the end of a roller coaster year in New York where there was “Linsanity”, where Mike D’Antoni was out and Mike Woodson was in, where Steve Novak and J.R. Smith have both shined and faltered, the Knicks are in the exact same spot.
Plenty of New Yorkers want Phil Jackson to be the guy who moves them off that spot, who turns them into a contender. Knicks owner James Dolan reportedly is one of those guys.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo says the Knicks need to back the brinks truck up to Phil Jackson’s Montana ranch to lure him out of retirement.
The end of this inevitable Eastern Conference playoff sweep on Sunday promises the beginning of a most inevitable pursuit: Dolan chasing his next savior, Phil Jackson. Along the way, Dolan ought to forget selling Jackson on his New York Knicks nostalgia and sentiment, on the joys of coaching Anthony. Jackson knows his own history here, and knows he never would’ve won a solitary title with the Lakers and Bulls had ‘Melo been one of his cornerstones.
Dolan doesn’t need to come with the elaborate recruiting presentation that he did for James for a simple reason: Above everything else, this is a cash deal. No salary cap, no limits…
Three years, $40 million-plus ought to do it.
Honestly, I’m not sure that will do it.
Jackson has long been open to the idea of coaching the Knicks because of his history there as a player, because he loves the city. He will be tempted. And we all would be tempted by that kind of cash.
But my gut says when it comes time to say yes or no Jackson will remember how his body felt at the end of his run with the Lakers — worn down, in need of surgeries, exhausted. At the end, to watch him in person was to see a guy who just looked done with it all. Being an NBA coach is a grind. Jackson has done that grind and I don’t think he will go back to eating airplane food, the rigors of travel, sleeping in beds that are too short, not getting enough sleep. He’s done all that. Now he splits time between Los Angeles on the beach and a ranch in Montana, seeing his grandkids, writing a book and getting to do some traveling. Does he really want to return to the grind? To coach a roster he doesn’t love and that does not really fit his system?
You can’t sell Jackson on legacy — he already has that. I don’t think sentimentality for the past will sway him. Woj is right in that cash is the one thing the Knicks have plenty of that may move the needle.
But my gut tells me even that will not be enough. My gut is wrong plenty. Just ask my wife. But I think while he’ll flirt with New York he won’t come back. No matter how much money they offer.
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