NBA Blog: Phil Jackson’s Impact on the Knicks

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By MATT McCORMACK
STAFF WRITER

Unless you have been spending your Spring Break hibernating (or lamenting your busted March Madness bracket), you have probably heard about the Knicks’ big signing. No, not a marquee free agent (you’ll have to wait until 2015 for that), but somebody who could play a huge role in attracting these game-changing players and bring the Larry O’ Brien NBA Championship Trophy back to the mecca of basketball. That “somebody” is none other than 13 time NBA champion (including both of the Knicks’ two championships) Phil Jackson. He is back to his old stomping grounds, ready to transform the dysfunctional Knicks into a title contender.

This was basically a no-brainer move for James Dolan and the Knicks’ front office. They desperately needed to establish some sort of credibility during a disastrous 2013-2014 season. Even though the Knicks are currently making a furious playoff run, the fact that they are even in this position in a terrible Eastern Conference shows how bad they have been. If they somehow grab the eighth seed, it means absolutely nothing for their short term or long term success, since they will most likely get trounced by Indiana or Miami in the first round. After Dolan’s guarantee that the Knicks would be title contenders this year, missing the playoffs would be disastrous, and even an eighth seed would be embarrassing given the low level of competition in the conference. Signing Phil Jackson was the only way to restore credibility and some semblance of respect to this beleaguered franchise.

However, it is still uncertain whether Phil Jackson can make a significant impact from an executive level. All of his success has either come as a coach or as a player, leaving him virtually untested in his current capacity as president of basketball operations. Some have said that the Knicks should have attempted to lure an executive with a proven track-record such as Mitch Kupchak. Nevertheless, I believe that they took a good gamble in signing Jackson because he brings the kind of star-power that is so influential in attracting free agents.

This gamble has a shot at working only if one thing remains clear. Phil Jackson should have full control of the on-the-court product. He should not have to deal with interference from Dolan. Even though Dolan is the owner and rightfully has the final say, he does not have anywhere near the level of basketball knowledge and experience that Jackson possesses. There is simply no reason for Dolan to have hired Jackson if he is not going to give him complete control of basketball operations. Hopefully for New York’s sake, he gives Jackson sufficient room to breathe and allow him to do the job he is being paid 12 million dollars per year to perform.

The signing of Phil Jackson was described by Carmelo Anthony as a “power-move,” and rightfully so. Big players like Anthony now have a different perspective on the Knicks’ franchise. New York will no longer be seen as a bumbling buffoon. The negative press created by off-the-court incidents surrounding Raymond Felton and JR Smith have finally been overshadowed by some positive news. A new era has begun in New York: the Phil Jackson era. Whether this will ultimately lead to the Knicks’ first championship in over forty years is the million dollar question.