For enduring three more dismal seasons on top of what has already been a 44 year drought without a championship, Knicks fans got their “reward.” Beleaguered team president Phil Jackson and the Knicks agreed to part ways. Let’s be frank, the man was justifiably fired.
I felt all along that Jackson merely wanted the money (and I certainly was not alone in that opinion) and would never give the position the commitment needed to make it work. Jackson had no previous experience as a front office executive but the signing provided a temporary injection to the Knicks’ image which has been looked at, by respected individuals within the NBA, as dysfunctional. From a lack of communication, to his controversial tweets about other players, Jackson had a laundry list of things he did wrong.
In April, Jackson and Knicks’ owner Jim Dolan exercised their mutual option and agreed to pick up the final two years of his five year deal that he signed in 2014. Less than three months later, Jackson is out. The timing is bizarre. Smells like something or someone got to Dolan.
I believe the way Jackson “handled” Carmelo Anthony during the season and Kristaps Porzingis during this off season may have swayed Dolan to make this move. Directly (my nysportsday.com colleague Rich Coutinho speculated both players had “direct conversations” with the owner recently) or indirectly, Anthony and Porzingis definitely influenced this decision, but it was Dolan who took a huge risk in hiring Jackson in the first place.
Jackson had no previous experience as a front office executive but the signing provided a temporary injection to the Knicks’ image which has been looked at, by respected individuals within the NBA, as dysfunctional. There is a laundry list of things that Jackson did wrong in trying to bring the Knicks back from the depths of despair.
Now what? Has Dolan already taken steps to recruit a replacement or will he leave that to Steve Mills or some unknown person. Who is going to want to come here to clean up what is still a mess? It’s a huge challenge but one with huge rewards if that person can make the Knicks a viable contender again.
Three years ago, the Knicks thought they were headed in the right direction. Three years later, the Knicks’ direction is like one of Yogi Berra’s most famous quotes. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”