Since the day he came aboard in the middle of last season, many people have deemed New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson as the savior of the franchise.
This is despite having no experience as an NBA executive. Just because Jackson is the greatest coach in NBA history, it doesn’t mean he will have similar results as an executive. Many great players and coaches have tried and many have failed.
Those who deem the Zen Master as the Knicks savior have absolutely nothing to base that on as he simply hasn’t done anything before accepting the Knicks job to earn that right. Assembling a championship team is a lot different than leading one as a coach or a player. If you need refreshers, just think Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.
The facts are that Jackson could become the next Thomas for the Knicks as easily as he can become the franchise’s savior. The bottom line is we just don’t know.
That being said, I like his chances.
Jackson had one job to do this offseason and he accomplished it by bringing back Carmelo Anthony.
Those opposed to that can point out the fact that he overpaid for a 30-year old who has had next to no playoff success in his career. And while many will point to the fact that Melo’s other potential suitors dried up and he had no choice except come back to the Knicks, the bottom line is that Jackson needed to re-sign Anthony and got it done at the end of the day.
However now the true test begins for the Zen Master as now he has real pressure of turning this franchise into a championship one.
Jackson has been wise so far not to throw around a ton of money to be on the books next offseason.
Whether you think the Knicks will be competitive this season really isn’t the question as they aren’t a title contender, but what Jackson can do is lay down the foundation for that to happen with some smart moves.
He has the opportunity to make some deals, but doesn’t have to as both Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani come off the books next summer. If he is able to move one or both without bringing salary back it will help the Knicks get back under the tax line, which is a place they haven’t been in a very long time.
But the real pressure for Jackson is being able to surround Anthony with the necessary talent to win a championship.
All eyes point to next offseason, but it won’t be easy.
Kevin Love, who will be a free agent next year, has long been a target of the Zen Master, but Love seems committed to teaming with LeBron James in Cleveland. If that happens, the Cavs are going to be a tough mountain for the Knicks to have to contend with on a yearly basis. As will the Bulls and Pacers, along with a couple potential upstart teams in the Eastern Conference like Toronto, Washington and even Charlotte.
You can also likely scratch LaMarcus Aldridge off the Knicks wish list as Aldridge seems committed to staying in Portland.
If those three are off the table it severely weakens next year’s free agent class, meaning a guy like Marc Gasol could be the Knicks top target.
Then there is the 2016 offseason where I am sure the Knicks will be salivating to land Kevin Durant, but that will also be easier said than done.
The point is that Jackson will surely have his work cut out for him as the talent the Knicks need may not be there for them next offseason. He will have to get creative in surrounding Anthony with the necessary talent to win.
At the end of the day you can make the case that Melo chose money over a real chance to win. That may be the case, but I won’t fault Anthony for trying to get paid. I don’t want to hear him say his top priority is to win a title again, but at the end of the day the Knicks needed Melo and Melo needed the Knicks.
What he did in the process is tie his legacy to what Jackson is able to accomplish the next few years.
The Zen Master got the guy the Knicks needed.
Now the real pressure begins.
It sure will be interesting to see what Jackson has up his sleeve.