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It’s confirmed: Phil Jackson returns to Knicks to head up front office, revive franchise

Mar 14, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT

Phil Jackson Getty Images

After a disaster of a season in New York, Knicks owner James Dolan has made his bold move to save face.

Now we will see if it actually turns the franchise around.

The Knicks have announced they will “hold a press conference on Tuesday, March 18 to make a major announcement.” That would be the press conference to announce Phil Jackson as their President of Basketball Operations, something confirmed by other sources.

Jackson was drafted by the Knicks back in 1967 and won two titles as a player there. He went on to a legendary coaching career where he won a record 11 NBA titles, but this is his first venture into a front office.

Jackson reportedly will make $12 million a year to be the head of New York’s basketball operations. He will set the tone and the guys under him — starting with current GM Steve Mills and the rest of a good but too often ignored staff — will work out the details, the salary cap and the rest of it.

The real question, of course, is the balance of power — can Jackson keep owner James Dolan from injecting himself into player/personnel decisions and making rash, unwise decisions. For example, hijacking the Carmelo Anthony trade talks with Denver from Donny Walsh and offering far too many quality role players for a deadline deal. A trade that left the Knicks without the depth to really compete in the East despite having their star.

If Jackson can keep Dolan at bay, get him to act like most owners, he might have success. Jackson knows the game, and while he hasn’t been in a front office before guys like Jerry West and Pat Riley have successfully made this jump. If he can provide a direction, a structure that will be an improvement over the random assembly of talent without real structure that has been New York in recent years.

What that means for Anthony’s future with the Knicks remains murky.

Jackson and Dolan will eventually clash. It will end badly. It always does with Dolan and often does with Jackson.

The question is how much success do they have before the inevitable ending.

  1. jcmeyer10 - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    Grabbing the popcorn for this. Will be much more interesting than the rest of the Celtics season.

    • spursareold - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      I want to see him clean house and get RID of all the CAA lackeys. A Player, or coaches representation should NOT be the overriding reason for signing them.

  2. asimonetti88 - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    Phil is probably my favorite person in basketball of all time. Sucks to see him anywhere but with the Purple and Gold but definitely interested to see how he does.

    • spthegr8 - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      I agree & the person we Laker fans have to thank for that is Jim Buss. He is probably my LEAST favorite person in basketball of All-Time. Keep up the good work Jimbo!!

      • antistratfordian - Mar 14, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        Lakers fans are a little late to that party.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:58 PM

      He’s always been a Knick at heart. He’s very fond of his old Knicks teams and especially how they played together.

      • josh4bv2014 - Mar 14, 2014 at 6:15 PM

        A Knick at heart?, when he was with Michael “Travel and Charge ” Jordan, he called us I am glad he is finally remembering how the Knicks helped him get his only rings as a player and is coming back to try to help us gain the glory that Stern and Jordan stole from us in the nineties. I doubt it will be enough, but welcome home Phil!

      • antistratfordian - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:03 AM

        He was talking about the players, not the organization. And that’s just coach talk, don’t take that too seriously – he has to say things like that to protect his players.

  3. RavenzGunnerz - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    RIP Knicks are garbage jokes.

  4. sdelmonte - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:56 PM


  5. antistratfordian - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Awesome blossom! Welcome back, PJ!

  6. sisisisisisisi - Mar 14, 2014 at 6:32 PM

    Did La La approve this union?

    • mackcarrington - Mar 14, 2014 at 6:45 PM

      Maybe Phil knows what she tastes like too?

      • tegan3 - Mar 14, 2014 at 8:00 PM

        He’s got the flavor saver mustache and he loves honey nut Cheerios!

  7. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Mar 14, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Nice he will be present for Pacers game wednesday!

  8. cantonbound13 - Mar 14, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    The curse of Isiah is over. The cloud over the garden has lifted! This is amazing!

  9. djshnooks - Mar 14, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    It’s a conspiracy…he will now help the Lakers or Bulls get Carmelo Anthony.

    Lol, I’m joking of course…but I cannot see this going very well, too many big egos.

  10. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 14, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    That’ll make holiday meals at the Buss household awkward.

    • jimeejohnson - Mar 14, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      Not if they have NY style pizza with California avocado.

      • 00maltliquor - Mar 15, 2014 at 5:04 AM


        You love you some CA avocados!

  11. sidneyz - Mar 14, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    I hope Phil leads this team back to greatness. Then someone in LA can take the keys away from Jim Buss the “Laker Killer”!

  12. kachlucca - Mar 14, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    The words “James Dolan” and “save face” should never be used in the same sentence. Far too late for that.

  13. progress2011 - Mar 14, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    First D12 left the lakers at the altar…….Now This!

    Does anyone think the Faker-Nation will soon realize they truly don’t possess any advantages!

    No player or a Hall Of Fame Player/ Coach and now President considers them a a top option….for apparent reasons!

    • paleihe - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      The Lakers can’t win every single championship. There will be dry spells, as there have been in the past. People get way too caught up in the moment.

      Give them a few years, they’ll be back to prominence.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      Were the Lakers competing with the Knicks to hire him?

  14. sfsugator - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    Jim Buss are you seeing this?? Your probably drunk, pathetic way to ruin a franchise.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      That’s Jim Buss’ problem. He doesn’t party as much as his dad. Jerry was out there getting DUIs, playing poker and hanging out with 19 year old girls. Jim is too busy trying to figure out how to make Laker fans like him.

  15. 1harrypairatesties - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Let me give you a dose of reality Lakers fans. Everyone knows The Black Mamba has one foot out the retirement door. Nobody wants to go to the Lakers. Not Phil, not Mello, nobody.

  16. csiegert4 - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    Phil Jackson has never done anything worth mentioning as far as I’m concerned. Riding the wave of Michael Jordan (greatest player ever according to most) and Scottie Pippen (top 20-25 player of all-time) and then Shaq (top 5-10 player all-time) and Kobe (top 10-15 player of all-time) is not really an accomplishment, it’s called right place at the right time. Do something without one of the greatest team assembled and we will applaud, until then, WHO CARES. He will fail miserably with the Knicks, I’m really surprised he took the position b/c he has a knack of not putting his “genius” on the line unless it’s a pretty much guaranteed situation. Carmelo is one of the most overrated players in basketball, unbelievable on offense but obviously a horrible defender and definitely doesn’t have the same drive as the greats. And the rest of that squad is beyond horrific. Jackson hasn’t had success gauging actual talent, and this will continue to be disastrous.

  17. Professor Fate - Mar 15, 2014 at 12:10 AM

    Even on a story about the Knicks landing one of the NBA’s brighter lights, the Laker-hating trolls have to make it about their anger. Jeez, give it a rest already.

  18. dinofrank60 - Mar 15, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    Better get the unlimited expense account, Dolan. Phil’s not using his black card to Manhattan, twice a month! First class!

  19. davidly - Mar 15, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    If for no other reason that to show obstinate disapproval for repeated confirmations from sources who haven’t actually drawn up or signed any contracts, I am not ready to admit to being wrong about Jackson going to the Knicks just yet.

    The fact that the only announcement is to “to make a major announcement” and even that, scheduled an entire five days away — an eternity in today’s news cycle — can only mean that the spin is not going to stop on this one and that somebody is either 1) milking this for all its worth in some kind of revenue, 2) there is a lot of legal manoeuvring, and/or 3) there is another strategy at work here that may or may not have to do with the business of basketball. Somebody is still trying to get somebody on board who ain’t. Who that might be is anyone’s guess (see number 1).

    If Phil Jackson ends up with decision making authority with his professional alma mater, no matter what the circumstances of his title and how it is spelled out in the contract, this smacks of utter desperation and comes entirely too-late in the game of Phil Jackson’s professional life.

    In Chicago he did everything any coach could do to earn another step up the ladder. Manifold players and coaches have done much less to earn a chance to prove they could do more. To think one’d rather break up a 62-win champion than to give a guy a promotion speaks volumes — and that it was considered a done-deal that whole season long is mind-boggling.

    In Los Angeles, he arguably accomplished a greater feat in essentially getting a tandem that was not able to get it done after multiple chances and molding them into a title machine.

    Then, since the first time the Lakers let him walk, any number of teams could have given him a front office job; the New York Knickerbockers certainly as much as anyone should have been interested. When was that? Damn near a decade ago.

    So, great… his greatest coaching accomplishment might have been to come back and allow the un-coach-able not only to save face, but show what a great player he could be in the process. Did that open any eyes, other than those sneering down their noses, thinking they could nail him to their bench for the duration of another hip replacement?

    This is too little, too late. It’s like Tex and the hall of fame. It’s disrespectful. It’s typical of how the money-men can make a millionaire seem like a whipping boy. The billionaires boys club is alive and well and if anyone thinks that one of the game’s greatest is finally getting a chance to do what he’s wanted since at least as far back as 72-10 — don’t kid yourselves. This ain’t happening.

  20. canadatude - Mar 15, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    He has a huge job going forward with no draft picks (thanks Dolan) and a dysfunctional roster.
    If he can just shed some of the garbage contracts and get back to square one, then he can turn a corner. Sometimes you need to take a step back to move forward. Hope Knicks fans can look at the big picture.

  21. sfsugator - Mar 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Professor Fate,

    What anger?? phil was our coach who brought 5 rings and wanted to see him run our franchise instead he went back to his roots in NY as a player. Pointing out the obvious that all basketball fans see that jimboy is destroying the juggernaut “lakers”

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