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However, during my six seasons on my own as a head coach in the CBA, I had to learn to see the game (and to coach) according to my own lights. It should also be noted that through the years, Phil and I have not always agreed on personnel and specific game plans. So, although I have often been called Phil’s mouthpiece by fans and some in the media, I have never consulted him about the content or general themes of any of the thousands of columns I’ve written for various sports web sites. NEVER!
“I’m not a standings guy this early, but look at it,” Anthony said. “I’m very optimistic of what we can do. I’m the most positive person there is.” Asked in Philadelphia on Wednesday if he still had faith in the Phil Process, Anthony said, “I’ll always have faith as long as I’m here. I’ll always have faith in my ability and our team’s ability.” Whether Jackson still has faith in Anthony is a different story.
Anthony's relationship with Jackson has never been great and it's much worse now. It didn't help that Jackson would not grant Anthony his wish last May and interview Tom Thibodeau for the head coaching job. Plus, Jackson publicly criticizing Anthony for stalling the offense didn't go over well either. Anthony is becoming increasingly frustrated with losing and Jackson's inability to do anything about it. He reached a breaking point on Wednesday in Philadelphia. Maybe that's a good thing.
Gaines, who worked as a Bulls scout with Jackson in Chicago, was the major player in the Knicks tabbing Langston Galloway two years ago out of the D-League and is credited with pushing Jackson to draft Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4 in 2015. After scouting Porzingis in Spain, Gaines told Jackson and general manager Steve Mills he should be taken No. 1 overall. According to the source, Gaines believes Ndour can turn into a defensive stopper at the small forward position and wants to develop him. Ndour hasn’t been in the rotation, but has played seven games with Westchester and the club remains committed.
Carmelo Anthony joked that Phil Jackson’s chances of returning to the Lakers took a major hit when he and Jeannie Buss ended their engagement. “That put an end to that, didn’t it?” Anthony said with a laugh.
Jackson fully intends to finish the two years after this season on his Knicks contract, according to NBA sources. Despite all the attention on his opt-out clause in 2017, he might even want to do a new deal that starts in 2019. Jackson's competitive fire is fully aflame now that the Knicks are on the upswing—they are 14-11 and have won 11 of their past 16 games entering Thursday night against the Golden State Warriors—but it's more than just feeling better about his work.
Of course, Jackson is in New York but it remains to be seen for how long, where he goes and if its colors are purple and gold. Jackson and his fiance, Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, both deny it’s happening. That’s absolutely true ... as far as it goes ... until Phil’s opt-out on July 1, 2017, with insiders close to both saying he could still wind up with the Lakers.
Not that Jackson is sitting around thinking about the Lakers at present with ore immediate challenges, like sticking it to everyone who says he can’t do his present job. Like all issues involving free agency, Phil’s availability will depend on the last thing that happens this season. The Knicks’ finish will decide if owner Jim Dolan is happy paying Jackson $12 million annually, which will decide if Phil feels like staying. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In any case, the situation is fluid.
(Actually, it’s unlikely that Kupchak, who worked easily with Jackson, would have objected to something ownership wanted to do. If Jim didn’t want Phil, it was because of his own issues with him.) Stung as Jeanie was, she wasn’t then inclined to fight Jim, knowing her father didn’t want an inter-organizational struggle. Instead, she took Jim up on his off-hand vow to leave if he couldn’t get the team back in two years – which she took to mean making the Western Conference finals by this season – or in other words, so long, Jimbo!
The Vertical: When the Knicks wanted to re-hire Isiah Thomas, Donnie Walsh knew it would be a mistake. @Adrian Wojnarowski Podcast: yhoo.it/2fRJ2Dw pic.twitter.com/2Zq259uCbe
Q: How would you define Jackson’s time as Knicks president so far? Jalen Rose: He hit the reset button; signed Noah, traded for Rose to just see if they can make the playoffs. He’s changed the philosophy on the fly a couple of times and clearly this won’t have the ultimate success that Knicks fans crave. It is almost impossible for them to find an identity with all the roster and coaching turnover.
Q: What did you make of his “posse” comment? Jalen Rose: This isn’t the first time he mentioned it, but it’s the first time people are taking notice. He wrote about it in his book and how he would look back at the effect it had on LeBron, and he couldn’t have been more wrong. There was a level of elitism at play, not racism. The idea that this young player can’t take the future by his grasp and then be so wrong and yet double down, while your talking about a situation. For him to revisit the term, it was clearly meant in a demeaning way.
JM: You have an opt-out clause in your contract after this season. Do you plan to exercise it? PJ: I have not entertained that. I'm looking for this Knicks team to get back into a situation where they are competitive. Do I have to win a championship before I feel I've done the job I've been asked to do, which is to bring this group back to that competitive level? No, I don't. We're starting to make progress. I like a lot of the things we are doing here. But we've got more to do.
JM: Then why bother to include the opt-out clause? PJ: The real issue with the opt out was simply my rationale regarding the (potential) lockout. If it was going to happen in December and everybody chose to walk away, there was no way I was going to sit in New York for three, four months when I didn't have a job, because (the players) aren't even allowed to show up to work. So, in that case, I would go back to L.A.
Jackie MacMullan: You have been under siege since you've taken over the Knicks, which has been different for you. In your coaching travels you've been all but untouchable. How have you handled the adversity? Phil Jackson: I knew the parameters of what would go on from years of playing in series against the Knicks. I remember all the barbs. It's a process of sticking to my beliefs and being able to say, 'Whatever.' This is what I was hired to do. I'm going to follow the plan and if it doesn't work out, it will be evident.
Jackie MacMullan: There have been reports you are frustrated that (Knicks coach) Jeff Hornacek isn't employing the triangle offense enough. Is that the case? Phil Jackson: No. But when they run it I want them to run it the right way. If you are going to do it, use your skills and run it the right way. I'm not frustrated at all. Derrick Rose missed three weeks of training camp (because of a civil trial). It's totally understandable where we are as a ballclub. We have guards that do a lot of stuff off the dribble. I want them to understand they can do things off the pass. It has to be a combination.
JM: So, is it safe to say the Knicks will not be a "space and pace" team any time soon? PJ: It's my feeling when everybody does the same damn thing it becomes, 'Who has the best Rolls Royce? Who has the best, fastest stock car in this race we are running?' So if you have LeBron, wow, we're going to do the same thing even though we don't have the Rolls Royce? You have to be unique. You have to have something no one else is doing to have genius in this game. It becomes an ownership. I don't care about the triangle. I care about systematically playing basketball. If the spacing isn't right, if guys are standing on top of each other, if there aren't lanes to be provided, or rebounders available to offensively rebound the ball, or we don't have defensive balance when a shot goes up, all of these things are fundamental basketball. I follow it. I'm not railing, 'This is inadequate' or 'This isn't right.' Just show me what will work. Are we running around for no reason? Can we hit the first cutter? Do we have the ability to hit the second option or are we just bypassing plays so someone can hit a 3-point shot? It doesn't make sense to me.
Phil Jackson recognizes that he took on a lot risks this summer in trading for Derrick Rose and signing Joakim Noah and Brandon Jennings. Rose, after all, has played in just 40 percent of his games over the past five seasons. Noah was limited to just 29 games last season due to shoulder injuries. And Jennings is entering his first full season following an Achillies injury. “In our situation, [it’s] definitely worth the risk,” Jackson said Friday. “We have had two seasons that have not been successful, and we need to move forward and win.”
“The front office stepped up,’’ Anthony said. “It was a collective effort. They did their job and did what they had to do to make things happen. Now they’ve put us in the situation to give us an opportunity. All we have to do is take advantage of it. I want no credit. Phil and [general manager] Steve [Mills] did everything. “On paper, we look good, real good. It’s matter of everyone coming together and buying into what we want to do.”
Ian Begley: Ex-Knick Stephon Marbury thinks New York is in good shape with Phil Jackson making decisions. "The first thing that they did was they appointed a leader," Marbury said on the TheKnicksBlog Podcast with Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton. "I don't believe (owner) Jim Dolan is making any decisions any more (phil) has the last say." When Jackson came to New York, both Jackson and Dolan said that Jackson would have autonomy in decision-making, something that previous Knicks execs didn't enjoy. Marbury, for what it's worth, believes that's the case. Marbury also called Jackson a "mastermind" and praised Jackson's recent moves, including the acquisition of Derrick Rose.
The thing is, Jackson is legitimately committed to getting the Knicks on the upswing. As attractive as the prospects of molding Walton and helping Jeanie are—and how much more weight he has representing the Lakers teams he won with— the Lakers want Jackson more than he wants them.
Of course, there is another possibility the Busses discuss regularly, a guy who is practically family—Phil Jackson. He can opt out of his Knicks contract in a year, and he's believed to be able to get out of it the year after that, too. Despite Jackson's limited results in New York, he has served an obvious purpose for James Dolan, taking the heat off the owner by accepting it himself. That is something the Buss family has noticed as a worthwhile formula as they continue to take their hits, besides how useful Jackson might be recruiting free agents even if he doesn't do day-to-day work.
Bryant would have tremendous appeal as a high-ranking official, but he is focused on his own business pursuits. Magic Johnson has made clear his disdain for Jim and is extremely interested in having a meaningful role with the Lakers.
Jeanie Buss: People think that Phil is going to come back here to L.A. and it’s not true. He’s signed a five-year agreement. He is happy where he is. What I am getting from people in New York is that he’s just doing it for the money. Phil doesn’t do anything for the money. He’s completely devoted to this job.
Jackson added that he still views Kurt Rambis — who went 9-19 down the stretch last season as coach — as an integral part of the staff going forward and an asset for Hornacek. “Well, Kurt fits,’’ Jackson told SNY. “He fits in a number of ways. He’s a teammate of Jeff’s in Phoenix at one point in their careers. He’s also a great team guy, he has a great idea what we’re trying to get accomplished, and I think he can help Jeff feel his way through this club and find the best way for them to play.’’
Jackson has three seasons remaining on his five-year deal with the Knicks. Speculation about Jackson's potential return to Los Angeles will likely continue because his contract contains an opt-out clause after the 2016-17 season, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard.
Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson discussed the Knicks' coaching search during their exit meetings last month and haven't spoken about it since. The lack of communication is a bit odd because Anthony has said he wants to share his opinion with the front office during the search. "I'm pretty sure people would assume that [I'd be in contact with Jackson]. I would assume that too. But what can I do? Bang down the door? Knock down the door and point a finger at Phil and say why hell you ain't ... ," Anthony told ESPN on Thursday during a promotional appearance in Manhattan.
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.
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.
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?
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.”
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Of course, the Nets will have their excuses to lean on in the event they are eliminated by the Bucks. Irving’s ankle sprain was a dramatic game-changer in this series, and though Harden looked physically better in Game 6 than he did in Game 5, he still wasn’t half the force he was with two healthy legs. “It’s not even about rust,” Harden said. “It’s about being able to move. … I’m out there to do whatever it takes to win. I’ve got to be better on both sides of the ball, which I will be for Game 7.”
Not yet. Not at a championship level. And, honestly, probably not near a championship level. “This one … this is going to eat at me for a long time,” Mitchell said. “Even when I go to the grocery store, I’m going to be thinking about this.” The Utah Jazz were spectacular on Friday night. Spectacular in building a 75-50 lead. Spectacular in blowing almost all of that lead in less than 12 minutes and allowing a Los Angeles team missing Kawhi Leonard to make them look like one of the worst defensive groups on Earth.
“It was a tough night for us all the way around,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We called timeouts to adjust how we defended. We tried stunting defensively. We went zone. But we got into full rotations and help situations, and we gave up looks trying to protect the rim. It was just a tough night. We were trying to guard the ball, and we struggled to stay in front. When Rudy came over to protect the rim, Mann made shots. Everybody made shots. Seventy-four percent from 3-point range is an unusual number. But there were things we didn’t execute on.”
George spent a lot of time with Mann at the beginning of the 2019 season, when he was working his way back from shoulder surgery. “T-Mann was like my sparring partner,” George said. “His tenacity was what I needed to get me back playing at an elite level. We challenged each other. I hope I was able to pass some things off to him. “He works on his game so much. One of the best young players that I’ve been around. Reminds me a lot of myself. He puts the work in. So, we tell him, we come out here, you work so hard, for what? Come out here and show it.”
“Happy to get the monkey off the Clippers back a little bit,” Jackson said. “But we are striving for more. This group, we have been hungry for one thing coming into the season, and it’s just still in the front of our mind and we just want to get better. Continue to come in here and get better each and every day. Excited to get home. Watch some film. Try to dissect it. Excited for our coaching staff to do the same and for us all to come as collective minds tomorrow to see what we’ve been doing well in this series, take something else from this series to go into the next one. We are going to enjoy it. It’s right back into playing another great team in Phoenix in two days. So we are getting ready for the challenge.”
“I know the Lakers are out and there’s a lot of Laker fans here,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, who played on the Lakers’ 2001 NBA championship team. “But once the Lakers are gone, if we’re not playing the Lakers, you should be cheering for the Clippers because it’s all in one city. I can just feel the love and I’m very happy and proud of our guys.”