While the New York Knicks are once again planting (false?) hope among their fans with a streak of wins that might help them somehow get into the playoffs, the hottest topic in the big apple seems to be the possibility of Phil Jackson becoming the head of basketball operations on the team next season, with the option of coaching the team also in the air.
James Dolan loves big names, and there aren’t any bigger than Jackson when it comes to coaching. He’s never been a GM or in an executive position, but he’s been pondering that idea for quite some time. He wanted to get full control of basketball decisions with the Lakers at the beginning of last season, but that didn’t pan out and the Lakers went with Mike D’Antoni while Mitch Kupchak remained the GM.
Jackson, who was a two-time NBA champions with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973 as a player, playing almost his entire career with the Knicks before finishing it not too far away from there with the Nets. There’s always been a connection and he has mentioned more than once that he’d love to be the head coach there one day, but it never really worked out.
It seems like Jackson, more than anything else, loves to talk these days. About Jordan, about Bryant, about Shaq. The arrogance that oozes off of him isn’t without basis: He has won 11 NBA championships as a head coach, holding the record. His win percentage in the regular season – 70.4%, is also the highest of all time. In short, even if all of his achivements have always come with star studded lineups, he made it work nonetheless, and deserves about every accolade in the book.
But the Knicks? It’s not quite certain Jackson has the desire to coach anymore. He might hold that title but prefer delegating more and more responsibilites to assistant, as being general manager or simply the guy making personnel and basketball decisions, which means building a long term strategy for the team while deciding on who to sign and who to trade seems a lot more appealing to him these days. Sorting out the ego battles in the locker room is probably what Jackson is most known for, but he might not have it in him to do it.
The Knicks right now are a mess. Big contracts, and the fear of Carmelo Anthony opting out of his contract and choosing to play somewhere else. Rebuilding this team or at least significantly altering it won’t be possilbe until 2015, which means patience. It means Jackson won’t have superstars to work with right away, and will either have to develop them through the program (without anyone really looking like someone with the right potential) or somehow acquire them through free agency or trades. In short, it’s going to take some time before that happens. The biggest question remains if both Jackson and Anthony have the patience to wait that long before these Knicks look like a team that might actually win a championship in the near future.