The biggest news of the week is that Phil Jackson is contemplating a return to the NBA. He has been rumored to have been offered the position of president of basketball operations for the Knicks. It’s still unclear if the deal includes Jackson returning to the sidelines as coach or if it is just for an executive position. Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported that Jackson’s made it clear to any team that has approached him that he prefers a front-office role that would allow him to shape and mold a franchise the way Heat president Pat Riley has, but he is open to the possibility of coaching for a short period of time if it were necessary in a transition period for a franchise with championship aspirations.
Jackson is considering the role in New York under the condition that the “setup is right,” and that he will have final say on basketball decisions. It’s possible that Jackson would want full assurance that owner James Dolan wouldn’t interfere or undermine his role, considering Dolan’s reputation as a meddler in team affairs. Jackson also wants assurances that the team will be able to retain Carmelo Anthony when he opts out of his deal after the season.
The responses to the idea of Jackson becoming a front office executive have been mixed. Some league officials have disparaged Jackson’s temperament and lack of qualifications to become a GM. “Phil has never scouted, has zero agent relationships and can’t recruit. He should coach or go fishing in Montana and let the fish deal with his ego. He’s not Pat Riley. Doesn’t have his charm or charisma and Riley became a full-time exec at 58, not 68 like Phil wants.”
More positive opinions have cited Jackson’s ability to be an effective recruiter for free-agents, as well as Jackson being smart enough to surround himself with quality basketball people to help offset his inexperience in the position. Most of the debate has focused on Jackson’s ability to coexist with Dolan, as well as his inexperience being an added difficulty in functioning within one of the more difficult front office positions in the league.
There can be no denying Jackson’s impressive coaching accomplishments though. He has a career record of 1,155-485 in 20 seasons with the Bulls and Lakers, and has won 11 NBA championships on the sidelines. Jackson previously had said health considerations precluded him from seriously considering a return to coaching, saying “my stock answer has been I have no intention of coaching again.” But a source with knowledge of his thinking told Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com that after having several surgeries over the past few years, Jackson is “ready to go back to work.”
So what do you think? Is Jackson the right fit for the Knicks? Will his lack of experience hamper him and the team’s efforts to build a champion? Or is he the right man for the job? Vote below and also feel free to expand on your opinions in the comments section below.