Jackson has everything to prove as GM

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com

VIDEO: Phil Jackson becomes President of Basketball Operations for Knicks

What we know about Phil Jackson the coach: He’s a superstar, one of the all-time greats, an underrated and excellent tactician while his motivational skills get the attention, respected to the highest levels even by colleagues who dislike his smug, condescending personality to the deepest levels.

What we know about Phil Jackson the personnel boss:



Jackson on the Knicks sideline would be something to celebrate, a coup for the franchise to get someone who for years has shaped himself as a closer for title hopefuls, and New York is definitely not. Jackson running basketball ops is more like a curiosity.

Wanting glitz more than experience, the Knicks got it. They won the press conference. Fans starved for any morsel of good news after years of horrible decisions can rejoice that a legend is joining the organization. Phil Jackson will make them feel good.

But will he actually make their team better?

And, since ownership hired the name and not the track record, will Jackson bring the kind of credibility that really makes a difference? Will a player, for example, take less money (a real possibility for another summer unless Jackson is able to miraculously offload one of the bad contracts) or fewer wins (speaking of real possibilities) if the Knicks are still a capped-out club trying to touch the end of the Eastern Conference playoff pack, just because the Zen Master is at the top of the basketball masthead?

Jackson has been training internally for this moment for years, having viewed himself more and more as a front-office guy, especially after being passed over for a third stint as Lakers coach in favor of Mike D’Antoni. If the Kings had been sold to the Chris Hansen group and moved to Seattle as the new SuperSonics, there is a good chance Jackson would have become president of basketball operations or some similar gaudy title that meant general manager. He has been looking for this kind of opportunity.

In that way, strangely, he needed the Knicks more than the Knicks needed him. New York got the name, which is obviously something to them, but Jackson got the job. They could have gone a lot of other directions, albeit without the same star power to soothe the masses, while Jackson, at 68, didn’t have the same options among teams that had job openings in a city he would live.

Jackson is very smart and will show up with a plan, and maybe he conquers this just as he did coaching. That wouldn’t be the biggest shock. But all we know for now is that the Knicks hired someone to run basketball operations who has never worked in basketball operations and that they will be cheered for it in New York.

Jackson won’t be out grinding on the college scouting circuit and he won’t get into emotional wrestling matches with agents unhappy with a client’s playing time. Someone else will handle the day-to-day. But there will come times when Jackson will have to make a major roster decision that involves proper use of the salary cap in addition to basketball acumen.

He can’t shape the roster in his coaching vision either, because coach Phil Jackson would never want a ball-stopper like Carmelo Anthony yet the Knicks have made it clear the idea is to keep ‘Melo and surround him with veterans, not split with Anthony this summer in free agency. New York could miss the playoffs and still have people asking them about the possibility of championships within a couple years. The new general manager, by some title, arrives with expectations.

That’s all we know about Phil Jackson the personnel boss right now.


VIDEO: GameTime’s crew talks about Phil Jackson’s move to the Knicks


  1. Najeero says:

    Felton should either be gone or he needs to be the back-up. He’s not consistent enough to start.

  2. Najeero says:

    The first thing he should do is lure Pau Gasol to town and trade for Kobe next season. He can also resign Metta and make sure he’s in the rotation this time.

  3. wow pj says:

    Phil Jackson has already told Carmelo to lose weight and play the SG/SF position. He said if you come back next year, the offense will run through you. Also Steve Kerr will be the Head coach of the Knicks.

  4. Trinidadian Nyc says:

    Phil is only as good as Dolan allows him to be

  5. Hustle_Simmons says:

    Blame Spike Lee.. Send his butt to LA, then run that “triangle” all next season bay-bee..!!!

  6. bballjunkie1 says:

    Phi will be just fine, the problem is for the other teams with unrestricted free agent contracts. Veterans will want to come and play for Phil Jackson program regardless if Carmelo is there or not. Remember this is the brain child of Chicago/Lakers championship runs. Some veterans will take less cause they have already made money want to be a part of this eventual history that will take place in New York in 2 seasons max. Carmelo will have to learn as Michael, Shaq,Kobe had to to win. Want indiviual numbers go somewhere else. The stage is setting may surprise you who comes stay tuned !!!!

  7. fan says:

    He wouldn’t want a ball stopper like Melo? He has won all of his titles with ball stoppers

  8. Kermit says:

    It kills me when so called writers comment on how Phil has no prior head office experience, well neither did Riley before his first gig or Spoelstra. Also how Melo and Phil won’t mesh because of Melo’s style, wasn’t Kobe considered a ball hog too? Sensational journalism at it’s best.

  9. Hopefully your right or not. Either way your the only (major) site reporting this people are denying this story. Why is all of New York reporting this? Much Desperate are we New Yorkers!

  10. Hopefully your sources are right nba.com Greg Anthony Phil Jackson camp is denying this story

  11. Karlo Garcia says:

    Time will tell. But I have the respect of Phil’s resume for him to back it up.

  12. Pavan says:


  13. Donald Trump says:

    Andrea Bargarni “your fired” Amare “retire” Jim Dolan “take a holiday” Phil Jackson “your hired, do your thing”

    Problem solved

  14. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    Then who will the Lakers fan boys blame after they get Mike fired? Please think of the fan boys and get back to LA.

  15. TheKush says:

    I would like to thank the Knicks for their entertaining losing season