Posted on June 28, 2017, by Travis Pulver
It seemed like such a good idea a few years ago. If there was a person whose odds at becoming a good NBA executive were strong, it would be one of the most successful head coaches in NBA history. That wasn’t the case for 11-time NBA Champion Phil Jackson. Under his guidance, the Knicks went an abysmal 80-166.
But for some strange reason, team owner James Dolan still decided to pick up the two-year option on Jackson’s contract just a few months ago.
While it is going to cost him, Dolan appears to have finally come to his senses. The Zen Master appears to have lost his mojo—and now he has lost his job. Dolan was very diplomatic with his statement announcing the move:
“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” Dolan said in a statement. “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.”
His legacy as a head coach will remain intact. But his overall legacy has taken a major hit. His team performed horribly under his leadership. Jackson’s tenure as an NBA executive will be remembered more for the dysfunction he created than anything else.
Well—that, and the insane salary he was able to command–$12 million a season, a record among professional sports executives. To put it into perspective, Theo Epstein is only making about $10 million a year—and he figured out how to turn the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs into World Champions!
Now Jackson will be getting paid $20.5 million (the remainder of his contract) to go away.
It certainly didn’t help his reputation when he supposedly fell asleep during a potential draft pick’s workout. He was already considered a laughing stock of an executive for his public feuds with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingas—his best players.
The mess with Anthony was in large part his own fault for signing him to a five-year, $124.9 million contract with a no-trade clause. Had he not included the clause, he could have gotten rid of Anthony a long time ago.
“I think we know what we’re doing,” Jackson said on MSG Network last week when asked what message he had for the fans. “Although it’s not been apparent in our record the last couple of years. We’ve grown from within. We have young players that are on their move up. It takes time to rebuild with youth….”
If that was the case, then why even pretend that they might actually consider trading Porzingas? The 21-year old is one of the best young players in the NBA. Yes, Jackson should have been unhappy with Porzingas for skipping his exit interview at the end of the season. There had to be a better way to teach him a lesson.
The Knicks still have a long way to go to become competitive. For now, general manager Steve Mills will take care of the day-to-day stuff. With all the uncertainty at the top, it will be interesting to see how the Knicks approach free agency when it starts in a few days.
But at least fans like Spike Lee have something to be happy about—for now.