First, the Knicks were trying to get Phil Jackson to coach even though they have yet to terminate their current coach, Mike Woodson. Next, owner James Dolan hijacked negotiations (â„… Frank Isola) and Phil was joining the front office and the deal was all but done. Now sources tell ESPN’s Chris Broussard the team and Jackson are simply dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on a contract that would give him autonomy on all basketball-related matters. Except, not everyone’s sources agree, and so we’re left in the muck of rumormongering and conflicting reports about a franchise that’s just as conflicted.
While Broussard’s sources say Jackson is a shoo-in to sign on as the president of basketball operations, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio has his own source close to Jackson who says those reports are “greatly exaggerated.”
Next we have a pair of New York Daily News reports from Frank Isola on the linkbait gold that is the vetting of Jackson rumors. The estimable Isola first reported that if Jackson is hired, current GM Steve Mills is all but gone:
Mills’ meeting with Jackson two weeks ago was a “disaster,” according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations. Jackson rejected the chance to replace Mike Woodson on the bench and instead is considering a move into the front office after speaking with Garden chairman James Dolan.
“Phil doesn’t want to work with Steve,” said a person close to Jackson. “Mills doesn’t know what to think now. Dolan is calling the shots on this one.”
“The problem with having a plan here is that Jim is OK with it until you start losing and then he’ll step in and want to change the plan immediately,” said one Knicks official. “Steve hasn’t been here that long and already Jim wants to try something different.”
Just to be clear, Broussard’s sources say that, “Jackson will take over the Knicks’ basketball operations department from president and general manager Steve Mills. Mills, however, will remain an integral part of the organization, according to the source.” So, um, that’s a pretty big disconnect.
As previously mentioned, Isola also wrote a piece about how Dolan has hijacked the Jackson negotiations from Mills, which â€” for any lucid New York fan of hoops â€” is no surprise. So we tend to side with Isola and believe Mills is gone if Jackson is brought on board. But that also casts suspicion on Broussard’s source who says a deal is eminent this week or possibly early next week.
What may be a surprise is how retired player, former Suns GM and current TNT sideline broadcaster Steve Kerr has been roped into the New York proceedings when both Isola and Marc Berman of the New York Post intimated that Jackson might hire the inexperienced Kerr to coach the team. Neither Kerr nor Jackson have any experience in their possible new roles: coaching in Kerr’s case and the front office in Jackson’s case.
Kerr, for his part, downplayed the rumors when he spoke with SNY.tv and the Knicks Blog while in town for CBS Sports and TNT’s coverage of the NCAA Tournament:
“Yeah, I’ve said that publicly many times but, I’m not going to even go down that path for obvious reasons.
“I think people just connected the dots. I think Bill Simmons said something the other day on the post-game show [on ABC's coverage of the Bulls-Heat game] that kind of stirred the pot and all of a sudden I show up in New York for NCAA Media Day. It’s total speculation at this point.
“Well, again, because I’ve been thrown into the mix, I don’t want to be quoted on all that stuff. It’s sort of unsavory in a lot of ways for me because there are people’s jobs at stake.”
It gets even better from there, since Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, similar to our reaction, believes a Jackson-Dolan pairing can only end in a nightmare divorce.
There’s more, including a humorous and sage dismissal of the whole Jackson fiasco, so click the next page…