The New York Knicks may have been saved from themselves by Phil Jackson moving into their front office. Fans can feel somewhat relieved and positive about the current state of affairs considering the alternative and how most of the 2013-14 season went.
Jackson swooped in on March 18th and gained New York some of the credibility it’s lost over time while dishing out hope to the orange and blue faithful. One could argue they were about one more James Dolan financial and personnel mismanagement scenario away from plunging back into the NBA irrelevance abyss that plagued them for a decade.
Luckily, that didn’t happen. Instead Dolan used his head for once and hired someone much smarter than he to run basketball operations and attempt to restore long-lost glory to the Garden. Jackson coming to run the Knicks was a legend returning home to bring his championship-filled career full circle. Now the Knicks and their fans have no choice but to trust in Jackson, whatever his future plans for this club. There’s reason to embrace this and be grateful for the opportunity to hope Jackson’s pedigree extends to the executive suite and get the ballclub out of the despair it fell into this season.
If you think I’m overstating Jackson’s arrival, just consider where the Knicks were a couple of months ago. The Knicks got as bad as 21-40 on March 3rd and the biggest laughing stock in the league thanks to their payroll and talent level. The team played well as reports about Phil gained steam and towards the end of the schedule but it doesn’t change the embarrassing nature of the season. We’re heading into a huge offseason considering the Carmelo Anthony outcome impacts this organization for years to come. We’re also one year from the Knicks having salary cap space in 2015 and the ability to make moves with the future in mind.
More than anything else, the Knicks were in dire need of direction. An architect to map out where this team would go and it’s obvious neither Dolan nor general manager Steve Mills was up to that task. A basketball mind needed to be running basketball operations and luckily for the Knicks, they got Phil with nostalgia and the availability to be molded by him as an executive.
Jackson did what he needed to in firing Mike Woodson along with the entire coaching staff and rebuilding from scratch. It was a foregone conclusion he would be gone and it was clearly best for all parties involved. It’s been speculated around the league since Jackson’s arrival and well before Woodson’s firing that Steve Kerr would be the next Knicks head coach.
Kerr is a five-time champion who won three consecutive titles playing for Jackson in Chicago and is considered a “Phil guy”; a disciple of Jackson’s that would be a logical hire. He’s familiar with Jackson’s on-court system, basketball mentality and his philosophical ideology in general.
We really don’t know how Kerr will be as a head coach in the NBA, especially as a rookie but reason exists to be optimistic. There are trepidations in both directions; some believe he isn’t right for the job while others think the Knicks job is poison. However, the only thing that matters really is that Phil thinks Kerr is the man for the job. And with that our concerns about the hire or wishes for another coach need to fall by the wayside.
When Jackson jumped on board with turning this team around, we happily accepted his application for employment running the Knicks. We jumped on board with him in return and his direction. We bought into his plan with no questions asked (for right now, at least) and must give him the same autonomy he wanted from Dolan to begin with.
The Knicks were a losing team with a lack of direction. I don’t think we get the right to gain the desired guidance from a basketball man of Jackson’s stature then immediately question his first decision. Maybe it’s just me but if Jackson says Kerr is the best option to be the next head coach? Okay, let’s install that triangle offense and start the Steve Kerr era in New York.
Jackson wants to lock up Kerr before the first round of the postseason ends. This is because some of the losing teams could have coaching vacancies and attempt to woo him away. If Jackson feels strongly that Kerr is the guy and we need to accept that and roll with it. Phil is the sole reason Kerr’s name has been attached to the Knicks and Phil’s name is what would draw the attention of any candidate intrigued by the position.
The fact is that we were just a short time away from an entirely different scenario. Thanks to Jackson being here the Knicks now have direction at least and some newfound stability. It’s coming at the heaviest of price tags—at least $60 million over five years, but the Knick fans shouldn’t care, it’s not our money. It’s a match made in heaven, really. Fans want a championship and we know Phil Jackson didn’t come here intending to lose so we’ll take our chances.
For a change, the owner used his money wisely and now there’s a capable mind attempting to lead the Knicks and their fans where they’ve been waiting four decades to go. There’s no choice but to sit back and trust the Zen Master. No matter where the Knicks go, it’s going to be a hell of a lot better than where they were headed without him.