Whether Kurt Rambis is Knicks head coach for the last time Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse hasn’t been determined. What has been determined is Rambis will return in some capacity next season — whether as offensive coordinator or assistant general manager, according to sources.
A source told The Post Blatt would be a long shot — unless Jackson decides to start passing the torch to GM Steve Mills, who played in the same backcourt at Princeton as the former Cavs coach. Blatt, an Israeli coaching legend, was an usher at Mills’ wedding, and The Post reported last June Mills has brought his name up to owner James Dolan in the past. It would be a neat compromise, if Jackson is to leave after next season as his contract allows.
There were rumblings around the Garden late Sunday that Jackson may be gone this summer. Next summer at the latest. If Phil so chooses he can stay the course, hire Rambis full-time and hope that free agents will flock to New York to play in a system that Rambis himself says takes new players a year to learn. Is that really a strong selling point?
A little nosing around NBA circles adds some important elements of subtext. One is that Jackson badly wants out of New York, preferring to return back to Los Angeles to be near his fiancée, Lakers scion Jeanie Buss. Jackson is believed to have an out in his Knicks deal that could free him up to do just that at the end of next season unless things between him and Dolan become untenable before that. It’s believed that as soon as Jeanie’s brother Jim Buss — blamed for the Lakers current free fall — is somehow removed from the scene, Jackson will be back as soon as he can engineer it.
As for the Knicks’ interest in Ujiri? It’s preliminary, tested by back channel intermediaries that take the temperature of a candidate before the executive search firms are brought in and the formal permissions are requested. But those channels are always close at hand in the NBA, even if the process can play out over years.
Appearing as an analyst on NBA TV, Fisher said: “I think a lot of people forget about Phil because of history within the game of basketball — one of the greatest basketball minds, coaches we’ve ever seen — there’s an assumption that he’s supposed to know what to do in every situation. He’s also still learning as an executive, as a president of an organization, which is completely different than coaching. My assumption, without assuming, is there was a lot of learning he had to do and we all had to do while working together. … I think Phil is still settling in, but organization-wide, they are still settling in as to who the Knicks are in their DNA.’’
There had been some speculation that he could leave New York before the end of his five-year contract. Jackson's deal, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, contains an opt-out clause after the 2016-17 season. But the team president said he's fully committed to the Knicks and fulfilling his contract. "Well, I'm in L.A. right now [and] I'm enjoying it," Jackson said with a smile. "But this is another part of my life. The energy that I have is directed toward turning this team around, and it's taken my full effort so far. It's been a challenge and I'm still in it and I'm in it to win it, so to speak."
Ohm Youngmisuk: Kurt Rambis on whether Phil Jackson has ever given any indication that he could leave Knicks eventually: "There's no indication that he's not committed or he's not staying, nothing outside of this team has ever been broached in any shape or form."
To this point, league sources told Sporting News, that interference has been limited. Jackson has resisted his early urges to tear down much of the Knicks’ internal structure, as holdovers Allan Houston (assistant general manager), Mark Warkentein (director of player personnel) and Steve Mills (general manager) are still in place. Houston and Warkentein have limited roles under Jackson, but player agents around the league say that when it comes to talking to the team, Mills is still the point man. “You get the sense that it lands with Phil for sure,” one agent said. “But it is still Steve Mills that you are going to talk to first. That has not changed.”
June 14, 2021 | 7:58 pm EDT Update
The NBA’s Competition Committee met Monday to further explore rule changes to restrict the unnatural motions surrounding jump shots that players are using to draw fouls, sources told ESPN. The league wants to limit the ability of players — including crafty stars like James Harden, Luka Doncic and Trae Young — to lean backward and sideways, for example — to initiate contact and get to the free throw line.
The NBA has shared a video compilation of player examples with the 30 teams that outlines a number of motions deemed unnatural that were used to draw fouls. The NBA and the Competition Committee will drill down on specific plays with the league’s GMs next week to target examples that’ll be recommended to owners to vote to eliminate next season, sources said.
There’s growing belief that many of these maneuvers are contributing to a game that’s slanting too much of an advantage toward the offense. While the concentration of these issues is often focused on star players getting much more usage and exposure with the ball, the league sees this as a universal problem throughout lineups and rosters — not only an issue for star players.
The NBA and Competition Committee — comprising a select group of owners, general managers, coaches, players and referees — largely believes there’s a framework of rules that allows offensive players too much free time to initiate contact in what are deemed unnatural and awkward ways.