The New York Knicks are in the middle of one of the worst seasons in franchise history. However, there could be bright days ahead for the team, as it prepares to miss the playoffs for the first time in four years.
ESPN reports that Phil Jackson is close to accepting a deal to join the Knicks front office. The offer would make Jackson the head of basketball operations, replacing current team president and general manager Steve Mills, who will likely remain with the organization.
Jackson’s success in the NBA has come as a head coach. With the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, he won 11 titles. While the Knicks will likely be looking to replace Mike Woodson at season’s end, Jackson won’t be taking over on the bench.
Jackson also played for the Knicks from 1967-1978. He was on the roster for the team's only two NBA titles, which came in 1970 and 1973.
It’s uncertain how Jackson will fare in the front office, considering he’s never held this position. However, his mere presence in the Knicks organization could do the team a lot of good.
The upcoming offseason will be pivotal for the future success of the franchise. Carmelo Anthony will almost certainly opt out of his current contract and become a free agent. The Knicks can offer him more money than anyone else, but that might not be enough for him to rejoin a team that is 15 games under .500 through 65 contests. Adding Jackson to the front office might assure Anthony that the Knicks are committed to winning.
The Hall of Famer’s proven track record could be alluring to free agents that aren’t currently on the New York roster. In 2015, the Knicks could have enough money under the cap to sign one or two high-profile free agents. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love could be targeted by the Knicks, and having Jackson as part of the recruiting process could make a difference.
Even if Jackson isn’t the coach, he could, perhaps, impart his strategy and philosophy on the man who does take Woodson’s place. There’s been speculation that Jackson would hire Steve Kerr, who played under the 68-year-old in Chicago. Kerr has never been a head coach before, and he could be heavily influenced by the man that has the record for most NBA championships as a head coach.
The Knicks have a lot of work to do, if they want to become a contender. They aren’t close to competing with the likes of the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat in the East, and they’ll need to make several changes to their roster. Giving Jackson control in the front office, though, is considered a step in the right direction.