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Should Knicks open up the bank account to get Phil Jackson?

May 4, 2012, 12:40 PM EDT

Phil Jackson Getty Images

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.

  1. cakemixa - May 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Should the media get their hands out of their pants, and stop writing Phil Jackson to the Knicks stories? He’s only said 1000 times that he’s not interested.

    • hwatt - May 4, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      it’s going to be loooong summer.

      “Welcome to the NBA Finals… could Phil Jackson bring the Knicks here next year?”

      “The Knicks drafted x…. can this rookie fit into Phil Jackson’s triangle?”

      “It’s getting late in the offseason, are the Knicks serious about Phil Jackson?”


      “Welcome to the 2012-2013 NBA season. How many losses can Woodson suffer before Phil Jackson is summoned?”

    • pudgalvin - May 4, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Yeah, but any time someone offeres you 40 million to do something for three years, you at the very least listen to what they have to say. I don’t think he’ll do it either, but I didn’t think Nick Saban would be the coach of Alabama. Coaches say things they think they mean all the time only to change their minds.

    • gmen4life33 - May 4, 2012 at 7:18 PM

      The Knicks have a coach right now, Phil has way too much class to say he is interested in a job that someone already has (thus putting that persons’ job in jeopardy). Not saying Phil has any desire to coach the Knicks, but he would have said “no interest” regardless of weather he wanted to coach them or not. It is the right thing to do.

  2. rayburns - May 4, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    I don’t think that Phil Jackson would work with Dolan for any amount of money.

    • Sam James - May 4, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      I’d work for Dolan only if a lobotomy were reversible.

  3. davidcl77 - May 4, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Two words…. John Calipari.

    • pudgalvin - May 4, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      I don’t disagree that Calipari is a good coach, but what happens in a level playing field? Everywhere he’s been succesful, his team has been more talented than 99% of the teams he plays. Unless you’re Erik Spoelstra, that’s not how the NBA works.

  4. abchome - May 4, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Money alone won’t make it.

    • rosesacl - May 4, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      does dolan a cute daughter?

  5. dadeyemi - May 4, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    absolutely. but only if we get the pieces to fit the system and Dolan stays the hell out of roster decisions

  6. cantonbound13 - May 4, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    You got to go after Phil Mr. Dolan. If he doesn’t want to travel to regular season road games, hire Brian Shaw as his assistant to take care of that. If Phil declines, then you go after Jerry Sloan or even Brian Shaw. But please do not bring in Calipari! Most importantly keep Isiah Thomas far away from this organization!

  7. marcusfitzhugh - May 4, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Rather than another story on how much money it would take, how about one that states exactly what Jax would have done last night? Lets see . . . . . . . his starting PG is out. As is his starting SG and his starting PF. And just in case that wasn’t bad enough, his starting center has the flu. Exactly what “game plan” would be successful against Miami in that situation? Jax does not want to travel for 41 road games and the playoffs. Spend the money on a coach that does. Woody has done a great job with what little time he’s had, and the Knicks should sign him today.

  8. zaro11 - May 4, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    I agree. Woodson has done a decent job with this group. Re-tool over the summer and see what he can do.

  9. jkaflagg - May 4, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Agree that Phil’s physical condition is a key factor, although he’d have a little less travel with an Eastern team…..also, while the money would be outrageous, Phil is smart enough to realize he doesn’t really need another 40 million at his age….

    That leaves only “restoring the Knick tradition”, and I just don’t think that dog will hunt……Like all basketball fans, Phil knows the heady days of Willis, Clyde & the gang are long gone, and basketball in New York is more about money and ego than true round ball…..

  10. gcclark98 - May 4, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    tom izzo…. he always brings a team ready to play….maybe ole bobby knight can smack anthony around a little if not

  11. davidcl77 - May 5, 2012 at 11:14 AM


  12. davidcl77 - May 5, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Calipari did pretty god at Massachusetts. Not exactly a basketball Mecca.

  13. dysraw1 - May 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Phil Jackson would have been a terrific choice to coach the Knicks back when he won it all with the Albany team, back when he was still hungry. in this day and time when he has absolutely nothing prove, and more money than he could ever spend

  14. cantonbound13 - May 5, 2012 at 4:45 PM


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