Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
Dolan’s public admission may help explain why the team has won one playoff series since 2000 and hasn’t captured a championship since 1973 — when Jackson was a player.
“I am by no means an expert in basketball,” Dolan said. “I’m a fan. But my expertise lies in managing companies and in businesses.
“I think I’m a little out of my element when it comes to the team. I found myself in a position where I needed to be more of a the decision-maker for a while. It wasn’t necessarily something that I wanted to do but as the chariman of the company I felt obligated to do. And I’m happy now that we have a team of Phil and Steve [Mills] to do that. And my whole job is about supporting them and winning a championship.”
Dolan also took responsibility for the team’s struggles this season. The Knicks are currently 27-40, four games back of Atlanta for the No. 8 seed.
“Regarding this season, it’s been a very disappointing year for our organization and fans,” Dolan said. “While I know we are all frustrated, no one is more frustrated than I am. None of us expected to be where we are. The responsibility for this season falls on all of us, including myself. I want to say thank you to our fans for sticking with us through these difficult times.”
Asked if would be ceding control to the 68-year-old Jackson, who has signed a five-year contract, worth $60 million, to be Knicks’ President, Dolan said, “Yeah, willingly and gratefully.”
Later in an interview on ESPN 98.7 Radio in New York, Dolan added: “Phil Jackson is in control of all basketball decisions. Period.”
Jackson said he wouldn’t have taken the position unless he knew he would have control to run the basketball side of things.
“We had this discussion in January about this particular aspect because Jim knew I wasn’t going to come if this didn’t happen,” Jackson said. “So there’s no reason not for him to have said it, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
The top priorities facing Jackson going forward are dealing with Carmelo Anthony’s impending free agency (more on this in another post); clearing cap space to pursue free agents in 2015; and adding complementary players for next season around Anthony.
Still, questions linger about how much time Jackson will spend in New York and how much time he will be able to devote to the team.
He didn’t sound like he was in love with the cold weather in New York — and really, who is?
“Moving to New York is a big challenge to me,” Jackson said. “Last week it was 80 degrees in L.A. and I was looking out at the beach, the water out there that’s in front of my house. Beautiful. And coming to New York – what was it 28 degrees yesterday when I landed or 24? It’s different. But there’s an energy here that I always remember, that almost gives you that feeling of being back here, being involved in the city. And I think the players have to be part of the city. I think that’s one of the things that made our Knick team in the early 70s, late 60s really important to the fans of this town that we were part of the city. So yes, it’s important to me.”
Jackson said he’s had “five surgeries” on his hips and knees and still has “some medical things I have to continue to have in L.A.”
He added that he has deep family ties in California.
“I have four children that live in California, eight grandchildren, six of them live in California,” he said. “So there’ll still be ties there but this is where I’ll establish myself.”
On the scouting front, Jackson said he plans to watch the NCAA Tournament and attend the Portsmouth Invitational, but also wants to watch other NBA teams for potential future role players for the Knicks.
“I really want to focus on some of the NBA teams,” Jackson said. “I think…that there are players on benches, that are on teams that will be available maybe not at high-price contracts but will be available to come in and assist and help the team. so there’s a variety of ways that we think we can build talent.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.