NY Sports Day
Rich Coutinho

Coutinho: The Timing of The Firing Of Phil Jackson Leaves Unanswered Questions

We all know the Phil Jackson experiment was doomed to failure from the start because he never really wanted the job—he merely could not turn down money from the Dolan checking account. But the timing of this move leaves me scratching my head and even when the Knicks make the right move, they somehow get it wrong.

If Jackson was on Dolan’s hit list how could you let him run the draft or more precisely, how do you exercise the option to keep him for 2 more years weeks before firing him? My gut tells me that both Knick star players—Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis had enough and I would bet the ranch both had direct conversations with Dolan in recent weeks. How else can you explain Dolan re-upping Jackson forcing him to pay Phil no matter what was decided?

It is just so weird to me that yesterday we heard Anthony asking for a buyout when up to this point he had indicated New York is where he wants to be and he had no intention of waiving his no trade clause. Could it be Dolan instructed Anthony to agree to a buyout knowing he had no intention of giving Jackson the money which he knew would force a point of no return conversation with Phil? I could envision him saying to Dolan that he had to have this or else. And Dolan at that point fired Phil.

Given the fact I worked with Cablevision for 10 years, I can safely tell you this is not an outlandish scenario. The ironic thing is Dolan’s concept of hiring a basketball president who has complete control is the right concept—he just picked the wrong guy. And Phil despite failing miserably is laughing all the way to the bank. For Knick fans, the word triangle has been removed from their vocabulary and that is a good thing.

But the conspiracy theorist in me makes me think the timing of this was a well scripted way of making Phil exit stage left. It will cost Dolan lots of money and please Knick fans but if the owner decides to once again stick in his hands in the basketball decision-making nothing will change. It will become the Knicks version of Ground Hog Day. We wake up every morning in the same place knowing no matter what we do, we will never wake up from the nightmare we’ve been in since the day Jeff Van Gundy decided he had enough of the Dolans.


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