It’s been 126 days since Phil Jackson was appointed as New York Knicks team president.
Had he never been the talented former NBA player and legendary coach we’ve celebrated for decades, we might’ve never heard of Phil Jackson. He might’ve been another freakishly tall, white-haired old guy greeting customers at Wal-Mart.
Such a tenure would’ve meant that his 90-day probationary period would be in the books by now, and Jackson would be enjoying the benefits of a full employee.
As such, it’s only right that James Dolan give Jackson a 90-day review. Perhaps that hasn’t happened as usually an employee’s superiors are more knowledgeable about the industry of which they serve. Dolan himself admitted he doesn’t know much about basketball – and the Knicks record of 381-505 in the last decade confirms his sentiment.
With almost two extra months, most believe that Jackson has failed to do what most NBA executives would be judged by within a 90-day probationary period.
For the loss of Carmelo Anthony to free agency, Jackson would’ve been asked to stay home without pay. He’d eventually receive that awkward phone call from an overly calm human resources representative asking him to attend a “meeting” to discuss his “performance.”
Jackson would be looking for a new job by the end of that meeting.
There’s nothing official other than Anthony electing to opt out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks that would’ve paid him $23.3 million. He hasn’t publicly said that he’s ruled out a return to New York; however, all signs are pointing to Melo in a different uniform next season.
On July 1 he will become a free agent and eventually sign with a team that’s not the Knicks, with all signs pointing to the Chicago Bulls. His agent, Leon Rose, said in a statement on Anthony’s behalf: “Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city, and he loves the fans. At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options.”
As options seem to truly be top priority for Melo, this summer will be a crash course in free agent etiquette as Anthony has never been immersed in the full free agency process. He signed an extension of his rookie contract in 2006, followed by another extension upon his departure from the Denver Nuggets as a condition of his trade to the Knicks.
When you’re dealing with an at the time soon to be free agent, it seems that options would be the name of the game. It’s what separates the teams who lose and win in free agency.
That’s precisely what the Knicks didn’t give Anthony — options.
When Carmelo told the Knicks that he would indeed opt out of his contract, it was during a meeting in Los Angeles with Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and ex-player turned first-year head coach Derek Fisher. A not-so-impressive audience to say the least.
Certainly Phil Jackson carries a circus-size load of prestige that comes with winning 13 NBA championships, however he’s an unproven rookie in his new role as Knicks team president.
Larry Brown said Steve Mills “has no clue” and Derek Fisher looks like a deer in the headlights with puppet string hanging from his jersey converted blazer/dress shirt combination. It’s almost as weird as the Addams Family with the same hint of comedic creepiness.
Who can blame Anthony for not wanting to reside in that nightmare?
The Knicks tallied up a horrid 37-45 record last season. it was the first time Melo missed the postseason in his 11-year professional career.
Jackson and the Knicks brass were unable to convince him it would be his last. With very limited means of unraveling the roster this summer, in addition to an unproven president, unfavored general manager and underage head coach, Carmelo’s best bet was to undo his situation and take his uncanny ability to score the ball elsewhere.
Then Phil Jackson suggested Anthony take less money. Anthony can sign a maximum contract worth $129 million over five years with the Knicks, and he’s more than entitled to it. Although the implications are different, Jackson did not take less money, or power to accept the Knicks job, and Derek Fisher’s five-year, $25-million is more than he’s collected in his playing career.
It also makes him one of the five highest-paid coaches in the NBA.
The Knicks also hired a former player that pales in comparison to Anthony’s talent level. When the Brooklyn Nets hired Jason Kidd, they employed a former Rookie of the Year and nine-time All Star with two Olympic gold medals.
Fisher not so much. He’s never played at an All-Star level although he’s been a great competitor, team player and positive locker room influence. Certainly the five championships won with Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers don’t hurt either, but it doesn’t garner the same amount of respect from a superstar like Anthony.
So as it ends up, Anthony can sign a maximum deal worth $96 million spread over four years with any other team. As of now this seems like the more plausible situation, instead of a return to New York.
One month beyond Jackson’s 90-day probationary period and he might’ve allowed the franchise’s prized possession to walk right out the door. Not the best way to start a new gig.