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Knicks Rumors: Jackson, Isiah, Free Agency

Knicks president Phil Jackson mentioned the need to add big men multiple times within an interview with Scott Cacciola of The New York Times, leading Tim Bontemps of the New York Post to speculate that the team is zeroing in on reported target Greg Monroe (Twitter link). Jackson suggested to Cacciola that the team would have drafted a big man, likely either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, if it had landed one of the top two picks in the draft. The Zen Master admitted the lottery setback that gave the team only the No. 4 pick resulted in a change of plans that figures to have a ripple effect on the rest of the summer.

“We know there are a limited number of guys we can bring in this year,” Jackson said about free agency. “We think we’ll get competitive guys to play. I think we’ll complement the guys we have here, and we’re going to move forward. We do know we’re going to have big guys in that group. We’re going to have to search out some big men.”

We’ll pass along more revelations from Jackson’s interview with Cacciola here:

  • Jackson told Cacciola that he and GM Steve Mills expressed their concerns to owner James Dolan when he presented them with the idea of hiring of former Knicks executive Isiah Thomas as president of the New York Liberty, a move with which Jackson was reportedly uncomfortable. “Jim Dolan had talked to us about it over dinner, maybe a month before it happened,” Jackson said. “We said, ‘Are you cognizant of the fact that this at least has the look of putting the fox in the henhouse?’ Is that a good term? In reviewing the history of it, we were told what the approach was by the Garden and how it went down. Jim said, ‘If you have any suggestions that you want to come back with, I’m open.’ And not being in that field, I didn’t have any information. It’s not where my head is at. So we’re not giving them any advice, and it’s going both ways.
  • Mills is “the future of this franchise,” Jackson told Cacciola, making it clear that he envisions a longer tenure for the GM than for himself.
  • All of the Knicks players expressed in their exit interviews that they’d like to return to the team, Mills said to Cacciola. The team only has fully guaranteed contracts with Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early.
  • Jackson once more touted the triangle and expressed full confidence in his abilities as an executive after subpar results in his first full season in charge of the roster. “Without a doubt,” Jackson said in response to Cacciola’s question about whether he still would have taken the job last year, knowing what he knows now. “I knew it was going to be a challenge. We just didn’t have any room to work last year. We knew that we were going to have to make big changes with the limitations that we had, being in a locked-in situation as far as the salary cap goes. That’s why when I said recently that I didn’t know why I wasn’t given some votes for Executive of the Year, I wasn’t kidding. I was really serious. We had a yeoman’s job of having to get rid of a lot of fat on our roster to get to where we are. I saw Mitch Kupchak got a vote, so I know some people valued what the Lakers were doing obviously.”

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