The New York Knicks have offered legendary coach Phil Jackson a position in the Knicks front office. That should not surprise anyone. The Knicks are always trying to create a buzz and Jackson would bring instant credibility to a franchise that has none. What is surprising is that Jackson is considering the offer.
Knicks President and General Manager Steve Mills met with Jackson recently and offered the head coaching job and Jackson declined. Even if he wanted to return to the bench his health and age would likely prevent him from the rigors of coaching again. However it has long been known that if Jackson felt better and a front office job similar to that of Pat Riley’s with the Miami Heat were available he would listen.
So Mills came back to the former Lakers and Bulls coach with a different offer involving working in the front office and rebuilding the team. Jackson is considering the offer and will have an answer for the Knicks next week.
It is too early April Fooyl’s Day right? Is the protest by Knick Fans scheduled for March 19th outside Madison Square Garden actually working? Why would the highly regarded Jackson come out of retirement that is the toxic mess that are the New York Knicks?
The challenge of revitalizing the franchise he once played for and the assurance of an iron clad contract would likely be a starting point. Obviously fixing the Knicks would be a challenge for anyone but the allure for Jackson runs deeper. He was a player for New York in the 1970’s where he won a championship under his coaching idol Red Holzman.
This is no ordinary situation however. For nearly two decades the Knicks have been mostly a loser on and off the court as Dolan brought in person and after person to fix the mess. It never worked and the Knicks’ owner has no one but himself to blame for this. Take Indiana Pacers President Donnie Walsh for example. Walsh is an accomplished NBA executive and regarded in league circles to be one of the best in the business but he lasted less than two years with the meddling Dolan.
Jackson knows this as well as anyone. On top of working with Dolan he would inherit a New York a roster full of bad contracts and aging players. Their best player, Carmelo Anthony is considering opting out of this contract and moving on to another franchise in hopes of winning an NBA title. The Knicks number one pick this year now belongs to the Denver Nuggets, the final piece of the exorbitant price they paid to get Anthony.
So if Jackson is considering the Knicks offer it would have to come with full authority over all basketball decisions included in his contract. Accompanying that addendum would have to be a buyout if Dolan violates the agreement. Otherwise Jackson is setting himself up for failure and ridicule.
Perhaps Dolan is finally tired of the ridicule himself. Maybe the fan protest is working after all. Either way Knick fans have hope at the moment. Hope that Jackson does more than consider the Knicks offer.
By Mick Varner