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Report: Knicks offer Phil Jackson a front office position

Mar 7, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

Teams keep asking if Phil Jackson wants to come back to coaching. This is a guy who has had both hips and one knee replaced (with the other likely), who has spent too many years on the road sleeping in beds too short for his 6’10” frame, having showerheads hit him in the middle of the back. He’s not eager to return to the bench and that life. The Knicks reportedly offered Mike Woodson’s job up, Jackson said no.

What he wants is a front office role, he wants to direct and guide a franchise ala Pat Riley.

In an attempt to save face after a terrible season, Knicks owner James Dolan has offered him a front office spot, reports Frank Isola a the New York Daily News.

Phil Jackson has been offered a front office position with the Knicks and is expected to give the club a decision sometime next week, the Daily News has learned.

According to an NBA source, Garden Chairman James Dolan has met with Jackson about a potential return to the franchise where he was a member of the Knicks’ only two championship teams. Jackson also won 11 titles as a head coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers but apparently has no interest in coaching the Knicks.

The question is what role is he taking on. It’s hard to picture Jackson in a traditional GM role, scouting on the road and handling the details of complex trades and the salary cap. However, he would be “more than a consultant” according to the report. Consultant seems to be the role Jackson wants. Would he work with just hired GM Steve Mills?

Then there is the really big issue — who has final say?

The other major stumbling block would be Jackson’s ability to work with Dolan, who has a history of being a meddling owner. Jackson would be handsomely compensated and will likely be promised full autonomy. Of course, the same was true of Donnie Walsh, an executive with more experience who was eventually forced out by Dolan after Dolan hijacked the Carmelo Anthony negotiations from Walsh.

These kind of president/GM situations work in other cities — Riley and Andy Elisburg in Miami; Larry Bird oversees Walsh in Indiana. Of course, in both of those situations the owners stands back out of the way and lets the basketball people make the basketball decisions.

Jackson is a Knicks legend who has talked fondly in the past of working for that franchise again. Depending on the details, this also could be the kind of front office job Jackson has been looking for. He could be the savior the Knicks front office needs and his legend would grow if he could make the team a contender again.

But there have been a lot of saviors in New York, a lot of good basketball minds who couldn’t — or were not allowed — to make it work. Jackson has to see that history and really think twice about stepping into Madison Square Garden again.

  1. tegan3 - Mar 7, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    Melo will stay if Phil says yes.

    • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Mar 7, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      Everything changes if they hire Phil.

      • fanofthegame79 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:59 PM

        You can’t say that. The dude wouldn’t be coaching and we have no clue how he would be as an executive. I think he is a great basketball mind, but let’s not forget he was fortunate to have the players he did. I give him credit for getting the most out of his players and managing egos – but those skills wouldn’t be used (or transferable, really) to a front office position.

      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:59 AM

        Phil Jackson is probably one of the best coaches in all of sports. He is respected by all in the NBA. You talk about managing egos and that is the biggest problem we have in the knicks. James Dolan needs his ego managed. If he isn’t signed to anything its because Dolan wont conform to Jacksons wishes. To say his skills in coaching would not be transferable is a little ignorant. He is just drawing up different plays and off the court.

        IMO Phil Jackson is just the guy to help get this franchise back on track. His name alone will help calm things down a bit. I am not sure how any Knicks fan would not be thrilled with this….

    • RavenzGunnerz - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      I have always felt like Phil took over situations with potential and made them success.

      Jordan, kobe, shaq….

      If he were to take over something as desperate as the knicks and turn them into a success story, then that would be another high for the man.

      • Kurt Helin - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        Does anyone remember Phil’s second stint in LA? I still argue that the year he helped get a team that started —STARTED— Kwame Brown and Smush Parker to the playoffs was his best coaching job.

        Also, please name the coach that won a title without elite talent?

      • RavenzGunnerz - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Larry brown in Detroit?

    • stayhigh_247 - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Not even, Phil is no guaranteed savior. They still have personnel issues, still would need a coach. Melo would still be waiting for years to see if any of this works. If they want Phil to save the Knicks and return them to contenders cool, but if they are only doing this to keep Melo (which is obvious) then this is a bad move for Melo. Chicago hasn’t had a guy that can consistently get his own shot and go for big numbers nightly since number 23. (I love D Rose, just being realistic) the pieces are in place, the system is proven, why stick around to see if Phil will be as good as he coached?

  2. andreboy1 - Mar 7, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    I hope he does join so that he can get his ass kicked when he doesn’t have some top 10 all-time players on his team. Then maybe he could get rid of that smug cloud that follows him everywhere he goes.

    • dinofrank60 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      If you get rid of that smug cloud, what is Phil supposed to look like?

    • 1historian - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      If you’ve won 11 championships while massaging the egos of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant – just to name a few – you have earned the right to that smug cloud. Hell, you OWN the damn thing.

  3. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Mar 7, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    I am surprised no past employee (walsh/grunwald) have come out and said what a fool Dolan is. I get being professional and keeping things in house but there are way too many things to keep in house. It must be contractual……

    • dinofrank60 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:18 PM

      The fool you lambast might be your boss in eight months…

  4. provguard - Mar 7, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    Is Melo a big enough sure bet for Jackson or not??? That is the question… Jackson, minus MJ and Kobe and Shaq, is just some guy named Jackson….

    • ranfan12 - Mar 7, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      But all of those guys except shaq haven’t won not one ring without jackson. Timely coincidence

    • sportsfan18 - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      So many say this… Pat Riley won his championships with Magic Johnson and Kareem and many others like Michael Cooper, James Worthy etc…

      So is Riles NOT a good coach either because he had those guys?

      Hell, he knew he had good players in Miami, and then tossed Van Gundy mid-season to come on down and coach…

      Red Auerbach had one Mr. Bill Russell plus many other good players.

      WHAT great coaches, not just good ones with a ring or two, but the all time GREAT coaches haven’t had great players?

  5. djshnooks - Mar 7, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    The Sabres thought bringing back Pat LaFontaine was a good idea.

    The Dolphins thought bringing back Dan Marino was a good idea.

    Sometimes it works (Elway, Lemieux, Bird)…but as mentioned, sometimes (most the time) these things are a train wreck.

  6. Professor Fate - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Jackson doesn’t want to coach. He didn’t want to coach after his last gig with the Lakers. L.A. reached out to him, mostly because of his history with the team, knowing he didn’t want to endure another season’s road games. Although they knew he wasn’t going to accept the job, Jackson made sure to get a tweak in on Jimmy Buss by making it look like they pulled the rug out from under him. He was not going to take that job because the Lakers weren’t going to have a road coach and a home coach.

    Now IF the Knicks want to give him a front office position it would have to be putting him in charge of basketball operations. Jackson would get to pick his own GM, coach, etc. IF Jackson accepted that position it would have to be with Dolan understanding that Jackson would have the last word on the basketball side of the operation. Is Dolan desperate enough to allow that? Has Dolan finally been able to admit that he shouldn’t be meddling in personnel decisions?

    I’d like to see Jackson back in the NBA and in a position on a team to call the shots. Lots of people said Jerry West couldn’t transition from the court to a front office position. Lots of people said Pat Riley couldn’t transition from being a broadcast color commentator to coach or run an organization. Those guys turned out okay. If Jackson accepts Dolan’s offer it could very well be the beginning of better days for the Knicks and one of the few smart things Dolan has done lately.

  7. ryanaammess - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    The roster is mostly off the the books next year right? Might not be a bad move, he’d definitely be building from the ground up.

  8. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    Dolan has got to be feeling the pressure. People say he doesn’t care but spoiled brats don’t have thick skin and thats exactly what he is. A middle aged man who has been gifted everything. The death threats from crazy fans has to be out of control. I cant imagine him being able to go any where in public right now. I think Steven A Smith might have helped put a lot of this in motion. The Knicks look good the past two games. Trying to keep my head up

  9. dinofrank60 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Only if the Knicks’ FO moves to Newport Beach.

  10. therooneyskilledwebster - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    His new job description has him being personally responsible for keeping Woody out of Suite 200.

  11. shuttaman1990 - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    He will not go.
    He’s Laker for life now.
    Jeannie Buss will make sure of that.

    Lakers all day.
    Knicks lost eternal.

  12. 00maltliquor - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:34 AM

    “sleeping in beds too short for his 6″10 frame, having shower heads hit him in the middle of the back…”

    LLLLLLOOL!! C’mon maaan, how would you even know that!?? That information was way too intimate! LMAOOO

  13. katra2logic - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:51 AM

    13 rings and counting… Love the one from his Chicago days with the red ruby bull’s head (my Mom’s middle name was Ruby). Seeing as Phil has 2 rings as a player and 11 rings as a coach, I think the odds are good he could be championship level executive material also. Certainly smart enough and I assume very well connected.

    Cheers :-)

  14. cantonbound13 - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:05 AM

    Riley could never beat Phil. I’d love the hire, don’t screw it up Dolan.

  15. gameisours - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:25 AM

    Imagine how he would have ruined his reputation, if he were to fail.

  16. ocgunslinger - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Dolan will force the hire because without it Melo will be history and the Knicks might as well try to hire “Eddie” again if she is available. Jackson will add to his millions and probably not have to relocate to NY either.

  17. blakegblogs - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Melo will stay if Phil signs with Knicks, other quality players would possibly want to sign with the Knicks as well…

  18. psubeerman21 - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    You guys realize that most good coaches almost always have elite players?

  19. azarkhan - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    Remember back in October when James Dolan met with Knicks execs and coaches and told them he “believes they have enough talent to win it all,” one source said, “and he expects it to happen this year.”? Remember how some Knicks fans defended Dolan for saying that?

    Now do you realize why it was dumb to say that?

  20. SportsChump - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    The Zen, from back when, to return to the Gar-Den. And Knicks fans say… A-Men!

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