GEICO SportsNite: Phil talks Dolan

Phil Jackson discusses his working relationship with James Dolan, and Frank Isola of the Daily News shares his thoughts on the Knicks head coaching search and Carmelo Anthony’s future.

Column: Phil Jackson taking risky approach assuming Melo will take less than max money

Adam Zagoria

Phil Jackson is making $12 million a year — $60 million over five years — to turn the Knicks around and bring them back to prominence.

Yet he appears to be employing a risky strategy by assuming that Carmelo Anthony will stay true to his word and take less than max money to help the franchise compete for its first NBA title in more than 40 years.

“The way things have been structured now financially for teams is that it’s really hard to have one or two top stars or max players and to put together a team with enough talent you’ve got to have people making sacrifices financially so we hope that Carmelo is true to his word and we understand what it’s going to take and we will present that to him at that time,” Jackson said Wednesday when meeting with the media.

Remember, it was Melo who first brought up the idea of potentially taking less money in New York if it would help the Knicks win. To read more of this story, click here

Phil: Jeanie Buss ‘encouraged’ him to coach Knicks, but Steve Kerr appears to be No. 1 option

Adam Zagoria

Phil Jackson says his fiancée, Lakers part-owner and president Jeanie Buss, “encouraged” him to coach the Knicks, but that his 68-year-old body won’t let him do it.

Instead, he appears to be targeting Steve Kerr as his No. 1 option going forward.

“Well, Jeanie Buss was here with the Board of Governors last week and stayed through the weekend and tried to encourage me to coach the team,” Jackson, the Knicks President, said Wednesday during his meeting with the media. “If there’s anyone who can encourage me to do anything, it’s Jeanie Buss. But I was able to withstand her arguments the whole time.”

Asked if Buss was serious about the suggestion, Jackson, who won 11 NBA titles as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers, said she was because it was a “lower risk” option for the team given his overwhelming success. To read more of this story, click here

James Dolan needs to pipe down

Harris Decker

alg-dolan-msg-jpgI’d imagine that James Dolan is going to be less than thrilled with all of the moves that Phil Jackson plans to make as president. I’m sure that he would have liked to keep long time assistant Herb Williams and we all know that there are probably dozens of guys working at the Garden that are there because of a ‘hookup.’ If this is going to work, Dolan needs to get out of the way.

We all debated this relationship and thought that Phil would only take the job if he was given complete control. It seems that he does have that control, despite the report by Frank Isola in the Daily News this morning. Dolan didn’t stop Jackson from doing anything (that we know of) but like we’ve seen before, his mouth is getting in the way.

Dolan needs to go away. Don’t enter Madison Square Garden. Don’t speak to the players and don’t go anywhere near a reporter. Every sound, whether whispered from a corner or spoken at a podium is finding its way onto a back page. If this is going to be the case, Dolan needs to be quiet and stop talking to everyone!

It’s funny. For the better part of two years, we didn’t hear a word from Dolan. The team was winning and things were good at the Garden. Then he tells the world that the Knicks are championship bound and the team goes on to win 37 games. Is it a coincidence? Probably. Still, I felt better as a fan when the owner was counting his money in private and letting the “basketball guys” — Glen Grunwald at the time and Phil Jackson now — make the important decisions.

Be quiet, James Dolan!


Daily News: Dolan tried to stop Jackson from firing assistants, others

James Dolan tried to stop Phil Jackson from firing Mike Woodson’s assistant coaches, including Herb Williams (Isola, April 23).

The report said there was “minor friction” between the owner and the president.

“Among the coaches fired on Monday was long-time assistant Herb Williams, who is well-liked in the organization. Within one hour, there was a report that the organization would ‘encourage’ the next head coach to keep Williams. It was an odd story, which read like it was planted by someone other than Jackson, because why would Jackson fire Williams and then encourage the next coach to rehire him?” Isola wrote.

Jackson may also be looking to change medical staff, trainers and more, but Dolan may have stepped in on those decisions as well.

A separate report said that Steve Mills, Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien could be reassigned within the organization or fired (Beck, April 23).

Report: New coach will have no impact on Carmelo Anthony’s decision

Sam Spiegelman

Mike Woodson is out. Perhaps Steve Kerr is in. And none of it matters to Carmelo Anthony.

An associate of Anthony’s told The Sporting News the Knicks’ coaching change will not have any impact on Anthony’s impending free agency. Kerr is considered to be the frontrunner for the job, but sources close to the situation suggest neither Woodson’s departure or another coach’s presence will be a factor.

Yet again, it boils down to winning:

“He wants to be in a situation where he can start winning, and he is going to look at teams based on that,” the source told The Sporting News. “Coaching is only a part of the equation. What they do now is not going to be as important as can they win?

Steve Kerr makes more sense than Mark Jackson

Harris Decker

Now that Mike Woodson is out, we can officially begin pondering who makes sense to replace him on the Knicks bench. There is a logical choice and a dark horse. The logical choice is TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr who has been linked to the Knicks for weeks. He even stated publicly, before Woodson was fired, that if he were offered the job he’d take it.

Mark JacksonKerr makes a ton of sense because of his past relationship with Phil Jackson but it goes beyond that. Similar to Phil, Kerr is a winner. He won multiple titles in Chicago and continued his career in San Antonio, winning under another Hall of Fame coach, Gregg Popovich. It seems inevitable that Jackson and Kerr will reunite in New York in hopes of bringing a title to the Garden.

The dark horse in this race is Mark Jackson. Another former television guy like Kerr, Jackson was given the opportunity to coach the Golden State Warriors under a huge amount of uncertainty. Like Kerr, he had never been a head coach. Since taking the gig, Jackson has led the Warriors to a 121-109 record over three seasons. The lockout shortened 2011-12 was his only losing season and he is now attempting to upset the No. 3 seed Clippers after taking game one.

Unfortunately for Jackson, there is trouble in paradise. He has had a notoriously bad relationship with Joe Lacob, the Warriors owner. It has been rumored that unless he completes the upset over the Clippers, he will be out of a job.

That raises an interesting question. Does Mark Jackson make more sense than Steve Kerr to coach the Knicks? The simple answer is no. Kerr is the better option. The reasons why are not so simple.

If Phil Jackson was not running the Knicks, I would say that Mark Jackson is the better option. He now has experience as a head coach and has done a great job developing the young Warriors team. Mark Jackson knows how to develop a system and he’ll be a hot target if he is in fact relieved of his duties.

For the Knicks, the system is already here. That’s what makes this a very tricky situation. Phil Jackson is no ordinary president. He’s a man with a plan and it is for that reason that Kerr should be the guy. It’s not that Kerr won’t have original ideas but there’s a much lower chance that Kerr clashes with Phil Jackson. They would likely share a similar philosophy.

Also of interest is the fact that Mark Jackson clashed with his current owners. Would a controlling president be any different?

If I were a gambling man, I’d be putting my money on Kerr. He is one of Phil’s guys and would have no issues with taking some direction from his former coach. There will be no Jackson-Jackson party in New York.

Odds for next Knicks coach

The odds are in on who will be the Knicks next coach. Steve Kerr is an 10/11 shot >> Read more at Knicks Zone…

Harris Decker

I’m actually really interested in these odds. Obviously, Kerr is the favorite for the job but even after denying it completely, Phil Jackson is still a better bet than most. They have Jackson at 5/1 and Jeff Van Gundy just slightly ahead of him at 3/1. Right behind those two is Brian Shaw and a handful of other names that have swirled.

John Starks and Patrick Ewing are the low men on the totem poll. It doesn’t seem likely that either would be tapped to fill the Knicks vacancy. The most interesting name on this list is Isiah Thomas. How could he even be considered a candidate for this position? I think there are probably better odds of Frank Vogel quitting his job in Indiana and becoming the next Knicks coach.

One guy that didn’t even make the list is Mark Jackson, presumably because he is still the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. If I were a gambling man and I wanted to actually make some money, I’d go with the Field bet at 12/1. That would give me Mark Jackson and a slew of guys that could come out of right field to win the job.

It’s a fun game to play but in the end, I believe Kerr will be the next Knicks coach.

GEICO SportsNite: Coach coverage

GEICO SportsNite covers the change in coaching staff for the New York Knicks after the team fired Mike Woodson, the clip includes sound from Steve Kerr and analysis from Frank Isola of the Daily News.

Beno Udrih showing what a system can do for a veteran guard

Harris Decker

First of all, I don’t believe in hitting a man while he’s down. This is less about Mike Woodson and more about the people who have told me that it was the players, not the coach, that caused the Knicks to regress from a 54 win team to a 37 win team. Woodson was fired as the Knicks coach yesterday and he was the man to blame for the Knicks failures this season.

Beno Udrih GrizzliesCase in point: Beno Udrih. On Monday night, I was enjoying some playoff basketball when Udrih came out of nowhere and hit a shot. He not only hit one shot, but two, three… He finished the game with 14 points on a remarkable 6-of-8 from the field. These weren’t shots with the game out of reach or with massive injuries sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies. These were quality minutes in the middle of a very close playoff game by a veteran rotation player.

With the Knicks, Udrih averaged 5.6 points, 3.5 assists and 19 minutes per game over his brief stint in New York. While he hasn’t been a game-changer on the Grizzlies, he is a quality piece. A role player. A guy that David Joerger trusts while giving his regulars a rest. In New York, Udrih played most of his minutes in mop-up duty or in place of injured point guards Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton. He was never truly a part of the offense and because there was no system, Udrih was left to scrap and claw for minimal production.

Now, surrounded by both talent and a defined system, he’s playing the exact role that Glen Grunwald had imagined for Udrih when he signed with the Knicks. He’s spelling the point guards and putting in solid minutes during the second and third quarters. Good teams have systems that allow any player to come off the bench and fit in. With Woodson’s (lack of a) system, it was all about a few key scorers and everyone else just standing around.

It hurts to watch guys like Beno Udrih thrive on other teams, especially when the Knicks are on the outside looking in. Still, this was more about people who don’t want to blame Woodson. The lower tier of players disappear when there isn’t a clear system. The superstars still thrive but it is the low guy on the ladder that gets hurt the most. Watching Udrih score against the Thunder last night assured me that it was more about Mike Woodson’s system than anything else in 2013-14.