Who knows if Jackson is even thinking about tanking the…

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New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony said he doesn't understand management's vision for the future after the club's inactivity at Thursday's trade deadline. "No, not now. No, to be honest with you," Anthony said late Thursday night. "I think they were kind of planning on the trade deadline, whether they were trying to make moves. I think that was one plan. Now they've got to get back to the drawing board and come up with another plan about the future of this team."
Anthony said he had "no reaction" to the team's lack of moves but acknowledged that it is frustrating to be unsure of the approach that management, namely team president Phil Jackson, will take with the team at this point. "Yeah, I mean, nobody likes to be in limbo," Anthony said. "We all want to know kind of what's going on, especially when it's involving you. But that's not the way it is in sports. I don't think I'm the only one that's going through that or feeling that way. I think there's other players who feel the same way, that they want to be involved -- not involved, but at least up to date with what's going on. I feel like I'm kind of up to date as far as when it comes to me what's going on."
“That ’99 team is the only one I remember going to the championship in recent history,’’ Webber said of that Sprewell-led Knicks club that faced the Spurs. “It would make sense to have all those guys there. Think about recent Knicks memories — that Miami series. It would make sense to keep those memories there. “I had friends calling me from New York — Spree’s here, Spree’s here. It was a good memory for everyone to remind people what it was like in the good days.”
“Unfortunately for us as Knicks fans, if Phil Jackson had been coaching all year, we would’ve won more games,’’ Reed told The Post. “His toughness and ability to make guys concentrate, that’s what I loved about him as a coach. He got guys to play harder and smarter.” According to Reed, it is less a health issue with Jackson, 71, and more an 11-rings mindset of “Let the record stand for itself.” Reed said he thinks Jackson still can reach modern players. “When I was a young player, the most impressive coach for me would’ve been Red Auerbach because of his record,’’ Reed said. “Same thing with Phil Jackson with his record in Chicago and L.A. I’d want to play for Phil Jackson. He’s got a history with Kobe, Jordan and Shaquille and made them champions.”
The New York Knicks lifted their ban on former player Charles Oakley on Tuesday, sources told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith and The Undefeated's Mike Wise. A source within the Madison Square Garden organization told Smith of the move, while Wise was informed by a source close to Oakley.
Adi Joseph: Dolan on Phil Jackson: "Whether I like the results or don't like the results, I am going to honor that (contract) until the end."
Howard Beck: Dolan says he will honor full 5 years of Phil Jackson's deal; no intention to exercise opt-out this year. Expects Phil not to opt out either
Tim Bontemps: James Dolan is asked about the direction of the franchise and says he's given full control to Phil Jackson and it remains that way.
James, who will play at the Garden Saturday night, pulled the equivalent of a “no comment” when asked about the fractured relationship of Anthony and Phil Jackson. “It’s not for me comment on. Like I said, I can’t really comment on somebody else’s relationship,” James said. “I can only give my advice and words of encouragement (to Carmelo). It’s like if you’re trying to comment on somebody else’s marriage. You’re not with them every day. You don’t know what they’re going through. You don’t where the communication broke down, so you can’t comment on that. That’s what (journalists) do. I just want the best for him. And I want him to be happy playing the game he loves. If it’s here great. If it’s not, then great as here as well.”
“There’s enough analysts, reporters, that always like to talk about what should’ve, could’ve, what they did, so we don’t pay much attention to it,” Hornacek said after the Knicks’ morning shoot-around at Verizon Center. “Whatever he did last year, he had a year and a half here, his relationship with Phil, whatever it was, again, this is a new year. “Everything’s new. Again, he may have thought he did something with that team from last year. I’m not concerned about that. I don’t think our guys are. So just go play.”
Fisher told Bleacher Report that the Knicks performed better last year, when he was the coach for 54 games, than they are this season under Hornacek. Fisher told the website: "We were able to take a team that wasn't as talented as the team they have now, and we were much better and much further along than this group is that they have now. Because the foundation was being laid." When asked about Fisher's comments on Tuesday, Hornacek replied: "There are enough analysts, reporters that always like to talk about what shoulda, coulda, what they did. So we don't pay much attention to that.”
Fisher indicated the team struggled with knowing who was running the team, Jackson or the head coach. That mostly stems from Jackson's insistence on running the triangle, which Fisher moved away from. Hornacek acknowledged that Jackson's presence can be confusing for the players. "I think maybe (the players) think that occasionally," he said.
The problem, however, is that Jackson is willing to deal Anthony without getting one of the Clippers top three players in return. As the Daily News reported on Thursday, Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are not part of the proposed package. Instead, the names being floated are Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers, two back-up guards with undesirable contracts. Or as one general manager told me on Friday, “if this trade happens, Phil could be sued for malpractice.”
While slamming Dolan as the “constant” in the Knicks “chaos,” Woj also ripped Jackson, now in his third season as GM. “That's what's been the constant, that the level of chaos that's gone on there, the constant's been the owner. So you're back to, again, Phil Jackson with Jeff Hornack 'Well I want you to run the triangle’ or 'You've got to keep Kurt Rambis who I really wanted as the head coach. He's got to be your defensive coordinator.’”
Appearing on Boomer and Carton Friday, Woj said players and their agents are recognizing what’s going on with the Nets and compared it with the Knicks. “I talk to players around the league, agents, people. They like what's in Brooklyn to send their guys to in the future. The coaching, the organization, everything around it. The Knicks still don't have that. And it gets back to this: Whether Donnie Walsh is GM, who did a tremendous job, or whether it's Phil Jackson, it will always be James Dolan's culture there.”
Asked if he got the sense that management wanted him to stay with the Knicks, Anthony said: "It was a quick meeting. That's all I can say."
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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