Skip to content

Extra Pass: Phil Jackson and Knicks deserve each other

Mar 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Phil Jackson, James Dolan AP

Phil Jackson shook hands with New York Knicks owner James Dolan, walked gingerly to the podium and comfortably lifted the microphones to fit his 6-foot-8 frame.

“I don’t have prepared remarks, as you can see,” Jackson said, practically bragging. “I’m shooting from the cuff.”

The skills Jackson showed yesterday – an ease with Dolan, a confidence that stems from winning 13 championships and an ability to speak publicly and persuasively – won him his introductory press conference. But today begins Jackson’s real term as the Knicks’ president, and a different set of skills – preparation and organization (though still an ability to work with Dolan) – will become essential now that the cameras are gone.

Dolan’s continued search for stars paid off in a big way. Yesterday. Today and beyond, this partnership exists at least one stage removed from the bright lights, in an area where the real work must be done.

Whatever happens from here, the Knicks and Jackson deserve each other.

Since he began overseeing the Knicks in 2001, Dolan’s defining move has been trading for Carmelo Anthony. Not content to wait for Melo in free agency the following summer, Dolan insisted the Knicks trade for him during the 2010-11 season. The result: The Knicks sent valuable assets to the Nuggets and, consequently, haven’t built a true contender around Melo.

At least Dolan got his star, the Knicks’ best player since Patrick Ewing.

Dolan has said the Knicks will often lead the NBA in payroll, because they play in the largest market. And kudos to Dolan for riding his advantage. But nothing precludes him from building balanced rosters rather than just chasing stars. Since Dolan took over, the Knicks have had more $10 million-salaried players than any franchise in the league:

image

Source: ESPN.com

And most of those Knicks players haven’t been worth their salary. Their cache inflated the perception of them in ways they didn’t back up on the court.

Jackson – whose salary is a reported $12 million, dwarfing his front-office counterparts around the league – is Dolan’s latest overhyped star.

Since retiring from coaching, Jackson has taken no significant formal steps to prepare for becoming a general manager. He hasn’t worked as a front-office assistant – his minimal contributions as a volunteer advisor for the Pistons hardly count – and he basically admitted to taking this job only because he’s too old to play and too limp to coach.

He doesn’t deserve a prime front-office position.

And with the exception of the pay, he doesn’t have one.

The Knicks risk losing their bester player this summer. Their roster is old, their cap space non-existent for next season. They have no first-round pick this year or 2016 and no second-round pick in any of the next four drafts.

This is a miserable situation only salvaged by New York’s drawing power.

That worked to get Jackson, but how much further that advantage extends depends entirely on the work Jackson puts in now.

Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, Jackson must plan to undertake the mundane tasks of scouting, analyzing and developing. As much as Dolan treats it differently, the job is not all glamor.

Jackson did what he was paid to do yesterday. But if he’s going to succeed with the Knicks, he must do more today while nobody is watching.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Miami Heat’s Pat Riley will get dinner to try and woo LaMarcus Aldridge

    Jul 2, 2015, 4:37 PM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers AP

    It would take an unlikely sign-and-trade to make it happen.

  2. Report: Tristan Thompson and Cavaliers reportedly apart in contract talks

    Jul 2, 2015, 3:11 PM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

    Thompson and Cleveland were reportedly nearing $80 million-plus deal yesterday

  3. Tim Duncan says he’s not retiring

    Jul 2, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Seven Getty Images

    Now, can the Spurs get LaMarcus Aldridge to complement him?

  4. Report: Pistons signing Aron Baynes away from Spurs for up to $20 million over three years

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes AP

    Baynes will reportedly get three-year deal with player option

  5. Report: Pacers agree to four-year, $44 million contract with Monta Ellis

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    Donald Sloan, Monta Ellis AP

    Indiana shouldn’t feel good about this, even if it was their best option at this point

  6. Report: David West interested in Warriors and Spurs

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Draymond Green, David West AP

    Former Pacers forward said he opted out to win a title

  7. Kings set sights on at least one of Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, Wes Matthews

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    Rajon Rondo AP

    The Kings are going to have to overpay to get players to come to the Kings right now.

  8. Lakers, Knicks struggle on hectic first day of free agency

    Jul 2, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT

    150702 philjackson Getty Images

    Free agents want more than off-the-court opportunities, they want to see a path to winning. Fast.

  9. Who is left on the board after wild first day of NBA free agency?

    Jul 2, 2015, 8:34 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    There are still some very good players on the board

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (5181)
  2. D. Wade (4684)
  3. L. James (3741)
  4. J. Embiid (3690)
  5. K. Bryant (3202)
  1. G. Monroe (3197)
  2. T. Harris (3127)
  3. K. Love (3095)
  4. J. Butler (2888)
  5. D. Cousins (2530)