Mar 15, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
There’s a long list of things that Phil Jackson must do in order to return the New York Knicks to a respectable level of basketball relevance.
Bringing in elite talent — quickly, or even immediately — has to be at the top of the list.
The culture must change, of course, and adding a head coach that can instill a long-term vision of what that will look like will certainly be an important component.
But winning championships doesn’t happen without one or more of the game’s best players in place, and that’s believed to be the area Jackson can impact the most.
Heat executives, according to a source, are not convinced that James will stay, though in their heart of hearts they believe he will re-sign. But Jackson’s arrival changes things.
“There’s no way LeBron would have gone to New York under the current climate,” said a James confidant. “He had a falling-out with CAA (agency) and that was a problem as well. But with Phil there I think he will look at it.” …
“Phil can help the Knicks because he gives them a face and credibility,” says a current GM. “But these big free agents are only going to a place where they feel they can win. Phil has to build something first.”
That last part is key.
When LeBron James and Chris Bosh both decided to team up with Dwyane Wade in Miami in the summer of 2010, Pat Riley had already created a winning culture. He personally stepped in to coach the Heat to a title in 2006 with Dwyane Wade as the team’s best player, and with Wade still there and Riley now running things from the front office, there was a continuity that was appealing from a standpoint of stability.
Having some fairly recent championship credibility is what Jackson brings to New York before even stepping through the door. It’s unlikely LeBron leaves Miami at all, let alone for a team as dysfunctional as the Knicks have proven to be over the last several seasons. But other All-Stars will hit the free agent market, and Jackson will be expected to land one or more of them with the gravitas he brings to his new position.
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