This past Friday it was reported by ESPN that Phil Jackson & the New York Knicks have been talking about Jackson possibly taking a position with the team. At first, it was the head coaching position, but as we learned on Saturday, it could be a General Manager or President of Basketball Operations job.
For those who may not be aware of the greatness of Jackson, he has won 10 NBA Championships with the Los Angeles Lakers & Chicago Bulls, most all time by a coach. But before Jackson was a coach, he was a part of the last team to win an NBA Championship for the Knicks in 1970. Jackson has shown that he can put together & manage talent, as he had to deal with such egos as Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O’Neal in order to get his championship runs in.
Many people say that it was easy for Jackson to win championships when you have the best players in the world on your team every year, but as any real sports fan or anyone who has ever played a sport knows, its not always about the stars, its about putting together an entire unit around them in order to make the entire operation functional.
If Jackson takes over as the #1 man in terms of basketball decisions with the Knicks, he will need to make a ton of critical decisions, such as what to do with coach Mike Woodson. Woodson has had to deal with so much crap this season, & he actually is a great coach, especially since he just led this same Knicks team to 54 wins last year. But with all that has happened in New York this season, a change at the helm might be the right thing to do for business.
So, let’s assume that Woodson is out as coach, who would step in? It was assumed that Jackson would be the key replacement, but with health concerns with his back, Phil being head coach might not be the best situation for him at this point in his career, so the President/GM title is the way to go.
An obvious candidate for the job would be Kentucky Wildcats Head Coach John Calipari. Calipari has NBA experience, all be it a bad one earlier in his career, but he has gotten older, wiser & has been a dominate force in college basketball, winning a national championship & having amazing recruiting classes at Kentucky almost every season he has been in Lexington.
But that could be the least of Phil’s concerns. After the coach has been hired, the next bit of business will be re-working the rosters, particularly getting Carmelo Anthony to stay with the team.
As many people know, Anthony is planning on becoming a free agent after the season & the likely destinations are back with the Knicks, the Chicago Bulls or the Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony has said he wanted to stay in a big market, & what is so unique is that Jackson knows all of those markets & organizations very well, especially with his girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, being one of the owners of the Lakers.
If its one thing that Jackson can sell to Anthony during a pitch to stay, its 10 NBA Championships. Anthony could be that next star that Jackson builds around & makes a championship team out of, & Anthony would have that final stamp on his awesome career that he has had. Carmelo Anthony is the only major player from the 2003 NBA Draft class without an NBA Championship to this point, and no matter what anyone says, that thought has to cross his mind at some point or another.
The other big issue that Jackson will have to take over as the leader of the New York Knicks would be what to do with J.R. Smith. Smith has been a complete malcontent his time in New York, except for when he was playing for a new contract. One of two things could happen – Smith could fall in line with Jackson’s system of winning & change his way of playing basketball – ala not putting up 500000000 shots a game with about 10 going in, or he will be shipped out of town quickly.
J.R. Smith isn’t the first – or craziest personality Jackson has dealt with, & with the stroke that Jackson has in the league, in New York & with the organization, Smith would be a fool to not understand the knowledge Jackson can bring to him & to the organization.
No matter what happens, if Jackson takes over the New York Knicks, needless to say, there will always be a fun headline in the Big Apple every day.