The Knicks have formally hired Phil Jackson as president, the team officially announced in a press conference today. The deal will pay him $12MM a season for five years, a record salary for an executive. Jackson originally agreed to join the Knicks on March 8th, but it appeared that he and the Knicks changed the terms of the deal before it became official. It’s Jackson’s first time in a front office role after he won 11 championships in his 21 seasons as an NBA coach.
This isn’t the first instance in which Knicks owner James Dolan opted to make a significant change within the front office during the regular season. The Madison Square Garden Chairman hired Donnie Walsh in April of 2008 and replaced Scott Layden with Isiah Thomas in December of 2003.
Jackson’s arrival comes a little over five months since the hiring of president and GM Steve Mills, who replaced GM Glen Grunwald prior to the start of the 2013/14 season. As part of their announcement, the Knicks confirmed that Mills will be retained as GM alongside Jackson, and Mills’ comprehensive web of contacts among NBA agents and rival GMs will surely be helpful.
Jackson will likely have to evaluate and make a decision on Mike Woodson. Despite having his option picked up for 2014/15 last September, the current Knicks head coach has been on the hot seat for a good part of this season. It’s also probably not a good sign for Woodson that the team initially approached Jackson about taking over as coach before ultimately offering a front office position. On a larger scale, Jackson will have to deal with Carmelo Anthony‘s impending future, as the star forward can choose to opt out of his contract this summer. Jackson once described the pairing of Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire as a “clumsy” fit, so it seems the Zen Master envisions fundamental change to the roster.
There has been question about whether Jackson, whose fiancee is Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, would live in New York, though it appears as though he will. Jackson lived there during the 1970s, when he played for the Knicks during the most successful era in franchise history.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Marc Berman of the New York Post first reported that Jackson had an agreement in principle, that the Knicks would retain Steve Mills, and that Jackson will likely live in New York during the season. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News noted that Jackson was behind changes to the original agreement (Twitter link). Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported that Jackson had put pen to paper, and that the contract was a five-year arrangement for $12MM per season.