Phil Jackson apparently doesn’t want to coach the Knicks, but it’s possible he can be convinced to join their front office in some capacity.
According to multiple reports, Jackson met with Knicks officials recently. According to a report in the New York Daily News, the Knicks offered him a position in their front office. The story, which was based on an unnamed source, said Jackson will give the Knicks an answer sometime next week.
ESPN reported that Knicks president and general manager Steve Mills met with Jackson, 68, about becoming the coach and that Jackson wasn’t interested. USA Today also reported that they met.
It’s unclear what role Jackson may have been offered. Allan Houston is the Knicks’ assistant general manager and Mark Warkentien is the director of player personnel.
Jackson has never worked in a front office but served as a consultant with the Pistons last summer during their coaching search. Detroit hired Maurice Cheeks, who was fired after 50 games.
The Knicks would not comment on the reports. Calls to Jackson’s agent were not returned.
Two summers ago, Jackson was critical of the Carmelo Anthony-Amar’e Stoudemire pairing and said the Knicks’ roster was “clumsy.”
It’s been a disappointing season for the Knicks, who expected to contend for the title after going 54-28 in 2012-13. But they took a 22-40 record into last night’s game against Utah and are nearing a crucial offseason in which Anthony can become a free agent and sign with another team.
“When you’re not winning, it opens the doors for a lot of rumors,” Stoudemire said. “Our job is to win. If we win, there wouldn’t be any of these distractions. The door wouldn’t be open for so many rumors.”
Jackson won a record 11 titles as the coach of the Bulls and Lakers and was a member of the Knicks’ only two NBA championship teams in 1970 and 1973 (he did not play in the 1969-70 season because of a back injury). If the Knicks were able to bring in Jackson, it could help them retain Anthony and make the team more appealing to other players. The Knicks likely will have plenty of cap space in the summer of 2015.
Coach Mike Woodson, who has one year left on his deal, seemed to handle the Jackson report in stride.
“I really don’t have an opinion on it,” he said. “As I sit here today, I’m the coach of the New York Knicks. I’m not going to entertain anything about Phil. I have a great deal of respect for Phil, but I’m not going to entertain anything about Phil Jackson. My job is to get this team to play at a high level.”
Woodson has had to answer questions about his job status all season. Mills — who replaced Glen Grunwald after he was let go four days before the start of training camp — hasn’t spoken to the media since opening night, Oct. 30.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Jackson acknowledged he has spoken to teams.
“There are winners and losers in the NBA, and a lot of people are trying to reclaim their position or change their culture or whatever,” he said. “I’ve had conversations. Some of them are feelers. ‘Are you interested?’ type of thing.”
Jackson could return to the Lakers. They also have struggled this season and could have a shakeup on the bench and front office, where Jackson’s fiancee, Jeanie Buss, could have a bigger role.