Robertson: Rockets, Melo perfect fit

April, 24, 2014
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If Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson were advising Carmelo Anthony, he'd tell him to leave the New York Knicks this summer.

"I would leave today [if I were Carmelo]," Roberston said on SiriusXM NBA radio Thursday. "... Let me tell you why: wherever that kid has gone, when he was at Denver, they had a team that fooled around with the ball, fooled around with the ball, then all of the sudden when they needed a basket, threw it to Carmelo. Then, when he shot the ball, they said he shot too much. Then when he didn't shoot they said he didn't shoot enough.

"No matter what he does in New York they're going to criticize him, the people are going to criticize him, because you got guys on [the Knicks] that cannot play. You got guys that are hurt all the time."

Anthony has said that he will opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency this summer. The Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers are among a group of teams expected to show interest in Anthony.

Robertson thinks Houston would be a perfect fit for Anthony, who was second in the NBA in scoring last season and pulled down a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game.


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Coaching Candidates

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
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Kevin Arnovitz has been canvassing NBA sources for the names of coaches with the potential to succeed in the NBA.

Is this war between Jackson and Dolan?

April, 23, 2014
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Here's what Phil Jackson had to say about a New York Daily News report that stated he and owner James Dolan have been embroiled in a disagreement over personnel decisions.

"As far as Jim Dolan's promise or his premise when I took this job that's he's going to leave basketball decisions up to me, really, he's been loyal to that promise," Jackson said.

If you take Jackson at his word, then everything should be fine among the Knicks' hierarchy.

On the surface, it makes sense that Jackson would want to make personnel changes. Any executive that takes over an entity -- whether in professional sports or corporate America -- wants to bring in his or her own people to help run the show.

And Jackson, it appears, is no different.

But here's where things seem to go a little sideways.

The Daily News, citing an unnamed team source, stated that Jackson is looking to remove several staff members from the organization but has run into opposition from Dolan.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said on SportsCenter Wednesday that there was a "discrepancy" between Jackson and Dolan over the team's medical staff. Jackson, according to Smith, was looking to cut ties with the team's medical staff and Dolan said the team's medical personnel were "untouchable."

You also hear whispers that Jackson wants to make changes in the front office.

Sometimes, when there is smoke, there's fire. Sometimes, it's just smoke.

Let's take Jackson at his word here.

On the day he hired Jackson last month, Dolan vowed that the 13-time NBA champion would "be in charge of all basketball decisions."

And Jackson says that is still the case today.

If that's true -- and remains so in the future -- then everything could be OK in the Dolan-Jackson marriage.

But if this tiff between Dolan and Jackson over the team's medical staff is accurate, then it will be interesting to see how things develop from this point forward.

If he wishes, Jackson can take a stand on this issue and challenge Dolan, essentially going to war with his boss. Or, he can acquiesce Dolan and try to find a middle ground where the current medical staff remains in place.

If he chooses to go to battle with Dolan over this, the Jackson-Dolan marriage may end in the ugly divorce.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Phil seems ready to play hardball with Melo

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
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Phil Jackson and Carmelo AnthonyGetty ImagesIt appears Phil Jackson is prepared to move forward -- with or without Carmelo Anthony.
Phil Jackson sounded like an executive who's ready to take a hard stance in negotiations with Carmelo Anthony.

The new Knicks president made two things clear about Carmelo in his end-of-season chat with reporters Wednesday:

1. He'd like to see Anthony take less than maximum money to re-sign with the Knicks.

2. He's not losing any sleep over the idea that the Knicks may lose Anthony to another suitor this summer.

"I’m all about moving forward," Jackson said. "Just deal with what is and move forward. If it’s in the cards, man, are we fortunate. If it’s not in the cards, man, are we fortunate. We’re going forward anyway."

On the subject of max money, Jackson didn't pull the idea of Anthony taking a pay cut out of thin air.

Anthony himself suggested in February that he'd be willing to sign with the Knicks at a discounted rate if it gave the team an opportunity to sign other big-name free agents.

"Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I'd do it," Anthony said. "I told people all the time, always say, if it takes me taking a pay cut, I'll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan's steps saying take my money, and let's build something strong over here."

Let's take a look at the math:

If Anthony re-signs with the Knicks, he can ink a five-year contract worth $129 million. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can earn is $95.8 million over four years.

Anthony has said his top priority in free agency is to put himself in a situation to contend for a championship.

Jackson astutely pointed out Wednesday that other stars have taken less money in pursuit of a title.

He mentioned Tim Duncan and the Big Three in Miami as examples.

"I think [there is] a precedent that's been set," Jackson said. "Because the way things have been structured now financially for teams is that it's really hard to have one or two top stars or max players, and to put together a team with enough talent, you've got to have people making sacrifices financially."

It sounded like a point Jackson may bring up when he, Anthony and Anthony's representatives sit down at the negotiating table in July.

"We hope that Carmelo is true to his word," Jackson added. "We understand what it's going to take, and we will present that to him at that time."

Here's the thing about Anthony taking less money: Unless he takes a huge pay cut in the first year of the contract, it won't really help the Knicks this summer.

The team is expected to be over the salary cap thanks in part to commitments next season to Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million).

But, as we explain here, an Anthony pay cut could give the Knicks extra space to pursue free agents in the summer of 2015. That summer, guys like Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge are expected to be available. And, in 2016, Kevin Durant is expected to hit the market.

If Anthony walks, the Knicks would have even more cap space to pursue those high-end free agents in future summers.

But that is a topic for another time. This summer, it will be all about Anthony. And it sounds like Jackson is ready to play hardball.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Knicks' Coaching Search

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
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Knicks president Phil Jackson has acknowledged that he and Steve Kerr have a strong philosophical connection, but will open up his coaching search beyond Kerr.

Knicks' search beyond Steve Kerr

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks president Phil Jackson said Wednesday that he will open up his coaching search beyond Steve Kerr but acknowledged that he and Kerr have a strong "philosophical connection."

Jackson expects to talk to Kerr "later this month" about coaching the Knicks. Kerr is believed to be the front-runner in the team's coaching search at this point.

There has been speculation that Jackson himself would take over as Knicks coach. He said Wednesday that Jeanie Buss, his fiancee and the Los Angeles Lakers' president and part-owner, tried to persuade him to coach the team last week, but he declined.

"I've made up my mind on that. Willful in that regard. Right now I know physically what I can do," Jackson said. "That's something I don't think physically that I can do."

Jackson and Kerr have been close since Kerr won three titles playing under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls. Jackson said he and Kerr, the former Phoenix Suns GM who currently serves as a TNT analyst, talked about coaching philosophy as recently as January.

"We meet very similar space about coaching in a lot of ways. I know philosophically, we have a strong connection," Jackson said. "Whether he's able to take a job like this, I don't know. I'll get in the conversation with him later on this month and talk to him about it, and see where he's at as far as his desire to coach."

Regarding the idea that Jackson coach the team himself, the 68-year-old said it would be a "lower risk" if he took over because of his track record. Jackson has won an NBA-record 11 titles as a head coach.


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Stephen A. Smith discusses the report that Phil Jackson and James Dolan have clashed over personnel decisions and the Knicks' claim that those reports are bogus.

Jackson: Dolan keeping his promise

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks president Phil Jackson responded on Wednesday to a New York Daily News report that said that he and team owner James Dolan have had friction over personnel decisions.

Responding to a question about the Daily News report, Jackson said that Dolan has "been very true to his word" thus far in his promise to give Jackson autonomy over basketball decisions.

"As far as Jim Dolan's promise or his premise when I took this job that's he's going to leave basketball decisions up to me, really, he's been loyal to that promise," Jackson said. "And going forward from last week through this week, just wanting to talk to [ex-Knicks coach] Mike [Woodson] when we were through talking to him, the staff -- it's all our decision. He's been very true to his word to this point."

Citing an unnamed team source, the Daily News reported on Wednesday that Jackson is looking to remove several staff members from the organization but has run into opposition from Dolan.

On the day he hired Jackson last month, Dolan vowed that the 13-time NBA champion would "be in charge of all basketball decisions."

Jackson's first large-scale personnel move came on Monday, when he fired Woodson and his entire coaching staff.

Jackson said on Wednesday that he expects to speak with several coaches about the vacancy. Steve Kerr is widely believed to be the favorite.


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Should Phil expand his coaching search?

April, 23, 2014
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If you’re the New York Knicks, here are your immediate options for head coach:

Steve Kerr, who is a fine choice, is your leading candidate. The other candidates include Phil Jackson disciples such as Bill Cartwright, Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons.

So, if for some reason things don’t work out with Kerr, the Knicks wouldn’t be left with what you’d call a Murderers' Row of coaching candidates.

Jackson hasn’t shown any inclination to coach. The possibility of him taking over seems remote at this point.

With that in mind, do you think Jackson should consider broadening his coaching search a bit instead of fixating on Kerr?

Here’s a hypothetical for you: Let’s say the Indiana Pacers flame out in the first round and Frank Vogel somehow gets fired. Or what if the Golden State Warriors loses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Mark Jackson is let go. How about the same thing happening to Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City?

There’s no way to predict the future. Who knows if any of this will come to fruition.

But if you think about it, there’s no reason for the Knicks to be in a rush to hire a coach right now. The draft is still more than two months away. Free agency doesn’t start until July 1. So Jackson can take his time if he’d like. Furthermore, should Jackson at least reach out to college coaches such as Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg or UConn’s Kevin Ollie?

Don’t get us wrong. Kerr would be a fine choice.

We agree with the points that ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle made here. Kerr, Doolittle writes, "doesn't have the baggage of a past failure. He's also been exposed to some of the NBA's greatest minds" (in Jackson and Gregg Popovich).

In addition, he is a skilled communicator (as evidenced by his broadcast duties) and a “progressive thinker.” Sounds like a great combination for a first-year head coach.

Still, it’s worth asking: Should Phil wait to see if other candidates become available?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
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Michelle Beadle and Max Kellerman discuss how appealing the Knicks coaching job is to Steve Kerr and if it really is a great job.

Three reasons Phil should coach Knicks

April, 22, 2014
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Phil Jackson has addressed the idea of coaching the Knicks twice since taking over as president.

In an interview with TMZ, Jackson was asked if it would be better for the Knicks if he were on the sideline as opposed to in the front office.

"Probably so, but I can't do it,” he said. “Not [because it's] part of the contract, [but because] it's part of my physical capabilities."

In early April, Jackson was asked if he had completely ruled out the idea of coaching the Knicks.

“I have no intention of coaching,” he said.

Now that he’s fired Mike Woodson, the smart money says Jackson will hire Steve Kerr to be his first head coach. It’s highly unlikely Jackson will take the bench at this point. But there are several reasons Jackson, if he’s physically capable, should at least consider coaching the team.

Below, we present three of them:

1. His impact on Melo: As with most issues involving the Knicks, it’s important to view Jackson’s coaching through the prism of Carmelo Anthony's free agency. It's fair to assume Anthony would be thrilled with the idea of playing for Jackson. He's already expressed a healthy respect for Jackson's basketball IQ and accomplishments. Anthony's also said again and again that winning will be his top priority in free agency. If that is true -- and we have no reason to believe it isn’t -- then who better to play for than Jackson, who has won an NBA record 11 titles?

2. He's the best candidate available: No offense to Kerr, but even he’d agree with the following statement: Phil is the Knicks' best option as coach. Put aside the fact he’s won 11 titles as a head coach for a second; Jackson has shown an ability to get through to elite players that few other coaches possess. So who better to get Anthony to break through to the "next level" that Jackson has talked about than Jackson himself? And then there's this: one of the criteria for the Knicks’ coaching search is finding a coach with knowledge of the triangle offense. Who better than Jackson, who taught it to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant?

3. Avoiding an awkward situation: As my colleague Ian O’Connor points out so well in this column, the next coach of the Knicks is going to have to work in the shadow of Jackson. And that’s no easy task. Every mistake will be viewed through the context of Phil. Every loss will leave some fans and analysts wondering: Would things be better if Jackson was coaching? Each losing streak will cause some fans to root for Jackson to take over. They may do so during games with the same "We want Phil" chant that was heard in Los Angeles in recent seasons.

Those aren’t easy circumstances for any coach to handle, let alone one who hasn’t coached before. That kind of awkward situation can be avoided if Jackson takes over as coach.

One thing worth noting when thinking about the possibility of Jackson taking over: A source told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne in early March that Jackson would be open to the possibility of coaching for a short period of time if it were necessary. But there is no indication that Jackson has given any thought to coaching at this point. So there’s no reason to expect him to take over for 2014-15. Still, it’s something that he should at least consider.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
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Robin Lundberg hits the streets to ask fans: Would you take the job as the Knicks' new head coach?

The Take 'Em or Trash 'Em results are in!

April, 22, 2014
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Knicks fans are an opinionated bunch. And they don’t always agree on everything.

But the fans who voted on ESPNNewYork’s Take ‘Em/Trash ‘Em poll were nearly unanimous when it came to one thing: almost everyone wanted Mike Woodson fired.

Eight-five percent of the 9,688 readers who voted in the poll wanted to see Woodson fired. And they got their wish on Monday morning, when president Phil Jackson decided to fire Woodson and his coaching staff.

Jackson, by the way, is pretty popular among those who voted: 96 percent of the 9,415 voters want Jackson back next year.

Here are three other results that caught our eye:

Iman Shumpert: For much of the season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Shumpert wouldn’t be in a Knicks uniform in 2014-15. But Jackson’s arrival may have changed all that. Sources with knowledge of Jackson’s thinking say he is intrigued by Shumpert. Shumpert’s play late in the season was a key aspect of the Knicks’ run to relevancy in the Eastern Conference. This seems to have rubbed off on some readers; 87 percent of the 11,744 who voted in the Take Em/Trash Em poll want Shumpert back.

Tyson Chandler: There was a vocal contingent of Knicks fans unhappy with Tyson Chandler’s play throughout the season. But, based on our poll, Chandler remains fairly popular among fans. Sixty-six percent of the 11,772 fans who voted for Chandler want to see him stay next season. Chandler’s contract expires after the 2014-15 season, so Jackson may look to move him around the 2015 trade deadline.

Amar’e Stoudemire: Stoudemire’s strong play late in the season seems to have inspired some in the fan base. At least, those of you who voted in the poll seem inspired. Sixty-two percent of the 12,075 who voted want to keep Stoudemire around for next season. He averaged close to 17 points on 57 percent shooting in the starting lineup in the final six weeks of the season, so Jackson may feel the same way as the readers who voted in the poll. Stoudemire may be a solid fit in Jackson’s triangle offense.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

New film should be required for new Knicks

April, 22, 2014
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Phil Jackson is known for giving homework assignments to his players and staff both during the season and in the offseason.

Don’t be surprised if a viewing of “When the Garden was Eden” is on the list for whatever newcomers come to town in 2014.

Michael Rapaport’s film, based on the book by New York Times writer Harvey Araton, debuted last week at the Tribeca Film Festival. Rapaport said it will be on ESPN’s 30 for 30 schedule for airing just prior to the start of the 2014-15 NBA season.

“The reason the movie was made is that the new Knicks haven’t won,” Rapaport said after Saturday’s screening, which got a standing ovation from a near-full house at the AMC Loews Village in downtown Manhattan. “The old Knicks are like wine. What they did was something special.”

The film focuses on the Knicks' championship teams of 1970 and 1973 and features interviews with all of the key participants, including Jackson, who was at Thursday’s screening and gave the film a thumbs-up.

The movie has in-depth interviews with everyone from Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier to key reserves Jerry Lucas and Dean Meminger (who died last year while the movie was still being made).

“We cast a shadow over the Knicks,” Frazier said during the film. “If they win, they talk about us. If they lose, they talk about us. There’s no way to escape it.”

The film also includes rare footage, such as that of Reed punching Rudy LaRusso in a famous fight, and the 1973 championship parade and welcoming at City Hall.

The younger fan will be able to relate to the arrival of Bradley to the team, as Frazier compared it to the Linsanity that Knicks fans dealt with a few years ago with the appearance of Jeremy Lin.

Expect to hear a lot of talk about the old Knicks in Jackson’s tenure as team president, as he hires a coach and new staff.

“The thing that was really important to the fans was that we were a part of the city,” Jackson said.

That figures to be a priority for this team moving forward.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

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