The New York Knicks and team president Phil Jackson will announce that they’re parting ways early Wednesday morning, sources told ESPN.
Conversations about what was best for the team’s future between Jackson and Knicks owner James Dolan accelerated this week when the franchise decided it would not buy out embattled forward Carmelo Anthony, sources said.
Jackson, 71, had made it well known that he felt it was best for Anthony and the organization to part ways, both publicly and privately, but Anthony refused to waive his no-trade clause, and the Knicks were determined not to accommodate any request for a buyout. Anthony has two years worth more than $54 million remaining on his deal.
With no end to the stalemate in sight, and free agency beginning on Saturday, Jackson’s discussions with Dolan accelerated late Tuesday night and the decision was made to part ways.
I’m shocked at this move, because it’s pretty logical. Jackson managed to get under the skin of the Knicks two best players, so it was clear that given his tenure of under-performance (80-166, 32.5%) Phil would lose the battle if push came to shove. Yet Dolan usually doesn’t make the logical move, especially when it comes to GMs. He stuck with the spontaneous Isiah for too long, and then overruled and eventually forced out the sensible and pragmatic Donnie Walsh.
It’s ironic that Jackson’s last straw was apparently the “No Trade Clause” he gave to Carmelo Anthony in the first place. Phil could have been fired for a number of other sins: Noah’s contract, failing to get proper return on trades, forcing the triangle on the team, etc. And while one could argue that the Knicks were pretty barren at Jackson’s start, especially with regards to draft picks, Phil didn’t seem to have a a good comprehension of his roster by over-predicting their potential before each season.
On the other hand, it’s hard to argue that Jackson has left the team in a worse state than he inherited. The Knicks have a few prospects (Porzingis, Ntikilina, Hernandez) and some trade bait (O’Quinn, Lee) so a good GM could make a go of it in short time. The hard part will be dealing with Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah, both whose contracts and talents don’t fit a young rebuilding franchise. Now it’s just up to Dolan to find the right GM.
And it’s official.
Phil Jackson, New York Knicks Agree to Part Company
NEW YORK, June 28, 2017 – MSG Executive Chairman Jim Dolan and Phil Jackson announced today that, after discussing the future of the New York Knicks, they have mutually agreed to part company. Mr. Jackson is leaving his post as President of Basketball Operations, effective immediately.
“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” said Mr. Dolan. “Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched. We wish him the best and thank him for his service to the Knicks as both a player and an executive.
“While we are currently evaluating how best to move forward regarding the leadership of the organization, I will not be involved in the operation of the team,” continued Mr. Dolan. “Steve Mills, the team’s general manager, will run the day-to-day business of the organization over the short term. Tim Leiweke, who brings tremendous expertise and experience in sports franchise management from both Toronto and Los Angeles and is our partner in the Oak View Group, will advise and work with Steve on an interim basis to help develop a go-forward plan.”
“The New York Knicks will always hold a special place in my heart,” Mr. Jackson said. “This team and this town launched my NBA career. I will forever be indebted to them. I am grateful to Mr. Dolan for giving me the opportunity to return here.
“I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to do that. New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best – today and always.”