Sports Out West

Phil Jackson officially joins the Knicks’ front office

Photo Credit: USATSI

After days of speculation, Phil Jackson on Friday officially signed the deal to become the New York Knicks’ team president, according to ESPN.com.

Jackson is expected to take over the reigns of New York’s basketball decisions from general manager Steve Mills, who is will retain some say in that aspect of the team.  The Knicks on Friday released a statement stating that there will be a “major announcement” made next Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.

The terms of Jackson’s deal are being reported as a five-year contract with an $12 million annual salary that does not include an ownership stake. He is expected to spend much of his time in New York, but also from time to time will work from Los Angeles.

For the past week, Jackson had been rumored to be in discussions with New York as it was reported that the 68-year-old had initially been offered the position of head coach by team owner James Dolan and general manger Steve Mills but he declined the job. The Knicks then offered him the position as team president, with complete control over all basketball-related matters.

The deal was finalized on Friday in Los Angeles with the help of his agent Todd Musburger and several Knicks’ officials.

Before the deal became official there was chatter of discontent from those around the Lakers’ organization that included Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson.

“You know how I feel about Phil,” Bryant said in a press conference on Thursday. “I have so much admiration for him and respect. I have a great relationship with him. Personally it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. I don’t really get it.”

As for Johnson, he took to Twitter on Thursday to voice his frustration over the possibility of the Lakers once again passing up Jackson for the second time in the last two years.

 There was interest on the Lakers’ behalf, but not enough to contact Jackson and get conversations going between both sides as the organization appeared to be reluctant to offer the 11-time NBA champion coach a similar position in their front office.

So as the Knicks’ team president, Jackson has a tough task at hand from the get-go as the team is currently three games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, and also faces possibility of their star player in Carmelo Anthony opting out of his deal and entering free agency this upcoming offseason.

Upon hearing the news that Jackson would be joining New York’s front office, Anthony stated that he it would not have any impact on his decision on free agency this Summer.

Via the New York Daily News‘ Peter Botte:

“I don’t think it’ll have any effect on me, just as far as what I’m thinking or my decision or anything like that,” Anthony said. “Like I said, I haven’t talked to Phil yet, just to get his insight on a lot of things, what’s his plan, what’s his future plan, because everything’s in his hands now.”

However, Anthony has since stated that he would sit down with Jackson to discuss the team’s future prior to making his decision. If the seven-time All-Star were to opt out of his contract, the Knicks would be able to offer him a five-year deal that is one year longer and $33 million more than what any other team can put on the table. Anthony has also stated that he prefers to stay with New York.

Along with that scenario, there is speculation that the team will let go of current head coach Mike Woodson at season’s end.  Some of Jackson’s former players and coaches such as Kurt Rambis, Brian Shaw and Steve Kerr are considered to be early front-runners if the job does indeed become available.

In the midst of the rumors of Jackson’s addition to the front office, Woodson deemed the move would only “enhance” the organization.

Via ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley:

“I have a great deal of respect for Phil and what he’s done over his coaching and his playing days in our league. He’s been extremely successful,” Woodson said Thursday in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show.”

“And if the Knicks are entertaining that, the guy’s got a great basketball mind for the game. So I mean, it’s all good.”

Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni prior to his team’s game against the San Antonio Spurs stated that the move was a must for the Knicks.

Via LA Daily News’s Mark Medina:

“It’s a good move,” said D’Antoni, who coached the Knicks from 2008 to 2012. “He obviously is a knowledgeable basketball guy. They need that right now.”

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich also commented on the move before Friday’s game.

“He has a hell of a mind,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Being a coach, it’s sort of a pain in the [rear]. He’s a smart guy.”

So as Jackson embarks on his latest journey, it will interesting to see what decisions he will make for New York starting this upcoming offseason.

Photo Credit: USATSI

Here is recent video of Phil Jackson on Fox Sports Live:

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.

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