Phil Jackson has reached an agreement in principle with the Knicks to oversee basketball operations with the title of “president,” reports Marc Berman of the New York Post. Jackson reportedly gave a verbal commitment to the team on Saturday, and at this point, Berman writes that it’s just a matter of lawyers finalizing the last contract details by the end of this week.
This isn’t the first instance in which 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 Steve Mills, who replaced Glen Grunwald prior to the start of the 2013/14 season. Berman reports that Mills will be retained in a revised role alongside Jackson, adding that Mills’ comprehensive web of contacts among NBA agents and GMs will surely be helpful. It will certainly be interesting to hear Jackson address the media and discuss the current roster in his new role, considering that he once described the pairing of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire as a “clumsy” fit.
As far as his first order of business is concerned, 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 a few days ago before ultimately offering a front office position. On a larger scale, Jackson will have to deal with Anthony’s impending future, as the star forward can choose to opt out of his contract this summer.
Some issues over the last few days revolved around Jackson’s living arrangements if he were to accept the job, although Berman writes that the 11-time champion coach is expected to live in New York during the season. Though no clear cut salary figure has been released as of yet, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News recently said that the former Knick could earn north of $15MM annually, making him the highest-paid executive in NBA history.
Monday it appeared that the Knicks felt they were close to a deal with Phil Jackson, but the Zen Master’s camp didn’t see the talks as nearing completion. We rounded up all the latest from Monday in a single post, and we’ll keep track of today’s updates on Jackson and the Knicks here.
- Knicks owner James Dolan has reportedly solicited the help of Bill Bradley as an intermediary in the team’s negotiations with Jackson, says Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Bradley is Jackson’s longtime friend and former teammate.
- Isola adds that Dolan and Bradley have been working together to finalize an agreement that would make Jackson the highest-paid executive in NBA history, with a deal that could pay in excess of $15MM annually.
- A source close to Jackson indicates that the two sides have had preliminary discussions about Jackson possibly owning a minority stake in the team.
- The Knicks have competition for Jackson, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who hears that the Pistons are “very much in the mix” for the Zen Master with Joe Dumars unlikely to return. The Cavs have reached out as well, although their interest is “somewhat muddied” at present, Kyler writes.
- Still, it’s “highly unlikely” that Jackson will return to the Lakers, Kyler adds.
- Steve Kerr reiterated to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv today that he would like to coach in the NBA, though he didn’t address the Knicks specifically. If Jackson hires Kerr, Kyler suggests he’ll go after Cavs interim GM David Griffin to run the day-to-day operations for the Knicks.
- Reports that Jackson is strongly leaning toward taking the Knicks job are “greatly exaggerated,” a source close to Jackson tells Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio.
- The Knicks are “very confident” they’ll finalize a deal with Jackson by the end of the week, though a formal announcement might not come until next week, a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The Knicks don’t feel as though Jackson would take a job with the Lakers or another club at this point. Jackson would gain control of the Knicks basketball operations department, displacing Mills, but Mills would remain an “integral” part of the team even if Jackson is hired, Broussard writes.
- A source tells Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that the meeting in which Steve Mills spoke to Jackson about coaching the team was a “disaster.” Jackson doesn’t want to work with Mills, the source says. Mills would retain a role of some sort within the organization if Jackson came aboard, but he wouldn’t be active in day-to-day operations, according to Isola. Mills has been committed to the idea of firing Mike Woodson, though he’s against hiring an interim coach and would prefer to go after marquee names in the offseason. Isola identifies John Calipari, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Tom Thibodeau as likely candidates for a Mills-led search, but it’s unclear if Jackson would go after any of the same.
- In any case, it’s clear that owner James Dolan, and not Mills or anyone else in the Knicks organization, is negotiating with Jackson now, Isola writes in a separate piece, adding that the salary on the table for the Zen Master is believed to be $12MM a year. Isola suggests that if Jackson takes the job, he’s “destined” to bring in his own front office staff, including a new general manager to run the day-to-day operations. Isola speculates that Byron Scott and Kurt Rambis could become coaching candidates in this scenario. Still, the Daily News scribe wonders if Jackson is using the Knicks offer to finagle a job with the Lakers, citing general managers from around the league who say that his heart lies with the purple-and-gold.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post contradicts Isola with regard to Mills, writing that the current Knicks president and general manager would retain a similar role if Jackson came aboard because of Mills’ aplomb with handling agents. Agents question Jackson’s sincerity, Isola notes.
- Berman also writes in his piece that Woodson will probably have to make the second round of the playoffs to keep his job.
The Lakers are expected to officially declare Kobe Bryant out for the rest of the 2013/14 season, as per Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. The 35-year-old guard is still dealing with discomfort after fracturing the tibial plateau in his left knee back in December. Ding adds that while the superstar guard has expressed hope in the team significantly re-tooling this summer via free agency, all signs point to the front office planning accordingly to have cap flexibility for the summer of 2015.
You can find more of tonight’s noteworthy links below:
- With Kobe, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre presently listed as the only guaranteed contracts for next season, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times looks at the rest of the current roster to determine who has the best chance of sticking around after this year.
- Mike Woodson‘s reported mistrust of Steve Mills partially stems from the Knicks executive’s presence in coaches meetings, practices, and road trips for large chunks of the season, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. According to Kyler, Woodson’s camp viewed it as meddling in the process and casting doubt on the coach’s job from the start.
- Marco Belinelli doesn’t hold a grudge against the Bulls for declining to make him an offer this past summer, but his first choice would have been to re-sign with the Bulls, in spite of Tom Thibodeau’s efforts to convince the team to do so. Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News has the details, noting that when Gregg Popovich called Thibodeau for a recommendation, Thibs gave the shooting guard an endorsement.
- Paul Millsap says he didn’t go “kicking and screaming” from the Jazz when they parted ways over the summer, adding that he respected the team’s decision not to pursue re-signing him, as Brad Rock of the Deseret News observes.
- J.J. Hickson has hired Muhammad Abdur-Rahim and Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management as his new agents, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com (Twitter link). They replace Andy Miller of ASM Sports, whom the Nuggets big man jettisoned earlier this season.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Earlier tonight on Twitter, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders shared some thoughts about Carmelo Anthony‘s possible free agency this summer. To paraphrase, he doesn’t see Anthony leaving the Knicks unless it’s a sign-and-trade, and while some may speculate that the hometown star will take less money to stay in place, it almost never happens that way. Kyler is also uncertain if any other team would be willing to offer four years and $22.4MM per to land the soon-to-be 30-year-old forward.
If the Bulls show interest, Kyler adds that the only way he can see Carmelo going to Chicago is if they’re able to unload Carlos Boozer‘s deal in a sign-and-trade, and even if that materializes, he isn’t sure if they’d be willing to pay the former Syracuse star max money over the final two years of his deal (Five Twitter links to share).
Here’s more out of New York tonight:
- Former player and current TNT analyst Steve Kerr is aware of the speculation that he’d be considered a coaching candidate for the Knicks if Phil Jackson were to take a front-office position with the team, writes Justin Terranova of the New York Post. Coincidentally, Kerr was in New York today for a CBS/NCAA Tournament press conference and commented on the situation: “I understand the speculation…I’ve said I wanted to coach at some point in my life, I know Phil, I played for him [with the Bulls]. People are sort of connecting the dots, but it’s very uncomfortable commenting on speculation, especially when it comes to someone else’s jobs.”
- More from Kerr, who confirmed that he’d be interested in coaching at some point: “I was the general manager in Phoenix for three years, and I loved being on the court with the players…That’s when it piqued my interest…I’m always going to keep my eyes open. I think it’s important in life to always keep looking forward and being open to new things.”
- Kerr told Al Iannazzone of Newsday that based on his conversations with Jackson over the years, he knows that the former Bulls and Lakers coach wants to be working in a front office at this point: “Well, I’ve stayed in touch with Phil over the years and I know just from being with him at times that this is what he wants to do is build a franchise.”
The top story across the NBA as the week begins is Phil Jackson‘s job offer from the Knicks, which he’s reportedly leaning toward accepting. There’s plenty of chatter surrounding that decision, so let’s dive in:
- There’s no guarantee that Jackson will take the job and those in his circle do not believe that an agreement is close, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Meanwhile, one source claims that owner James Dolan will not give complete autonomy to anyone in the front office.
- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (on Twitter) says that Steve Kerr could be a head coaching candidate if Jackson takes the job.
- Adam Zagoria of SNY (on Twitter) hears that Jackson would get a deal worth ~$10MM per season.
- In a full story, Broussard writes that Jackson will “definitely” not coach the Knicks, and says that owner James Dolan would retain a voice in the club’s decision-making even with Jackson around. Jackson’s hiring would also likely please the team’s non-CAA clients, one of whom complained to Broussard about the preferential treatment that the Knicks give to players affiliated with the agency.
- All indications are that Jackson will take the job, a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The title of the position remains unclear, but Jackson will not coach or become a consultant. The possibility of a last-minute change of heart remains, but the Knicks have the sense that he’ll accept their offer (Twitter links).
- Jackson is expected to let the Knicks know his choice today, notes Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. Although other reports suggest that he’s looking for the final word on basketball operations, as Pat Riley has with the Heat, a Jackson confidant claims he’d instead prefer to become more of a consultant, as Jerry West is with the Warriors.
- Carmelo Anthony said this weekend that the team hadn’t told him of any pursuit of Jackson, observes Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I don’t even know what’s going on with that,’’ Anthony said late Saturday night. “Nobody came to me about that. Until that time comes, I’m not going to know what’s going on. It’s hard to say at this particular moment. If anything, it’s not going to be right now. I’m pretty sure they’d try to wait for the offseason and then we’ll deal with all that stuff.”
- It’s possible that Jackson wouldn’t start working for the Knicks until after the season, Berman notes, which would jibe with Anthony’s comment. Jackson is reportedly seeking assurance that Anthony will remain with the Knicks.
- A friend of Anthony who’s “intimately” involved in his decision regarding free agency said last month that he wasn’t sure that ‘Melo would re-sign, reports Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, who examines how Jackson could affect Melo’s willingness to stay. Begley notes that Jackson, unlike Anthony and many in the Knicks organization, isn’t a client of the Creative Artists Agency.
MONDAY, 3:50pm: The signing is official, the Knicks announced on Twitter.
SATURDAY, 1:32pm: The Knicks are expected to sign Earl Clark to a second 10-day contract after tonight’s game in Cleveland, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link). Clark was signed by the team last week after the Knicks cleared roster space by waiving Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace. Clark can play either forward position for the team. It looks to be another prorated minimum-salary pact for the Kevin Bradbury client.
The 14th overall pick in the 2009 draft had some of the best performances of his career during the 2012/2013 season he spent with the Lakers. He then regressed after signing a two-year, $8.5MM deal with the Cavs during the summer. Cleveland then traded him to the Sixers at the deadline, who waived him less than 24 hours later.
In five games with the Knicks, Clark has averaged 2.63 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 BPG in 7.8 minutes per contest. There is still no word on the status of Shannon Brown, who also signed a 10-day contract with the team on the same day.
3:48pm: The Knicks officially announced the signing, via Twitter.
8:05am: The Knicks will sign Shannon Brown to another 10-day contract today, as Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. Berman reported earlier that Earl Clark will also be getting a second 10-day deal. Both were signed late last month to replace Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih, with whom New York agreed to buyouts.
Brown averaged 2.0 points in 8.2 minutes per game in his first 10-day stint with the Knicks, which ended Saturday. He saw similarly limited playing time on a pair of 10-day contracts with the Spurs earlier this year. It’s his only NBA action in 2013/14, since he spent most of the season as a free agent after Washington released him shortly before the start of the season following his arrival via trade from Phoenix.
The Mark Bartelstein client had a contract guaranteed for $3.5MM this year when the Wizards placed him on waivers, so he continues to receive that salary. Washington recoups a tiny portion of that with each 10-day deal Brown signs this season via set-off rights, with a slightly larger chunk taken off the Wizards’ bill if the Knicks sign Brown for the balance of the season when his latest 10-day pact expires.
Carmelo Anthony‘s camp leaked the information about Joakim Noah‘s All-Star break recruiting pitch, and the Knicks have been open about their pursuit of Phil Jackson, observes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Deveney concludes the whispers from both sides are intended as posturing for ‘Melo’s free agency decision this summer. While we wait to see how the latest ‘Melo-drama will play out, here’s the latest from the rest of the Eastern Conference:
- Marcin Gortat says the strength of a team’s point guard and its coaching staff will be two qualities he’ll consider when he assesses suitors in free agency this summer, as he tells Kyle Weidie of ESPN.com. Gortat is high on re-signing with the Wizards, though his comments suggest he isn’t interested in signing an extension, reportedly one of Washington’s goals.
- The Pacers were concerned that Danny Granger had slacked off on the daily rehab regimen that was to help him regain his form after he missed almost all of last season with injuries, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. That helped precipitate the deadline deal that brought Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to Indiana, but Kyler wonders if the departure of the longtime Pacer did irreparable damage to the team’s chemistry.
- Danny Ainge embraces Rajon Rondo, stubbornness and all, as the Celtics president of basketball operations tells Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe for a piece that examines Rondo’s nuanced personality.
The Knicks officially announced today that they’re going to own a D-League team in White Plains, New York starting next season. The expansion squad will be the D-League’s 18th franchise. The Knicks on Friday confirmed a report from late last month that they were ending their relationship with the Erie BayHawks and planning to set up a team in Westchester County, where White Plains is located.
The Magic may replace the Knicks in Erie, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel suggests, noting that the Magic are seeking a one-to-one affiliation in which they would run the basketball operations of a D-League club but leave the business side to local ownership (Twitter links). Orlando is sharing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants with five other NBA teams this year.
The Knicks become the seventh NBA team to own a D-League affiliate outright, while several others have the sort of “hybrid” partnerships the Magic want to arrange for next season. The Timberwolves are investigating the possibility of buying a D-League team, too, notes Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston will serve as the White Plains D-League club’s GM, so it appears he’ll remain with the organization regardless of whether Phil Jackson joins the Knicks as an executive.
The new affiliate of the Knicks will play at the Westchester County Center, about 30 miles north of New York City. The Knicks also have their training and practice facility in Westchester County, so it appears the Knicks plan to make heavy use of D-League assignments in the future. This year, they’ve only made five, as our D-League assignment/recall log shows.
With the D-League trade deadline in the rear view mirror, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest looks back at the biggest transactions of the year. The L.A. D-Fenders’ acquisition of Manny Harris tops the list. The Lakers‘ affiliate got Harris from the Canton Charge in exchange for a 2014 second round draft pick and the guard currently leads the NBA D-League in scoring average and even earned a call-up after a month in L.A. Here’s more from around the Association..
- The 76ers plan to workout D-League guard Kevin Murphy, an audition that could lead to 10-day deal, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Murphy is averaging ~26 PPG for the Idaho Stampede.
- James Nunnally will also get a workout with the 76ers, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Nunnally had two 10-day contracts earlier this season with the Hawks.
- Seton Hall standout Fuquan Edwin hasn’t seen a whole lot of Ws during his collegiate career but he’s still happy with his time in South Orange, New Jersey. “It’s definitely been a pleasure playing at the university with the great coaching staff that we have,” Edwin told Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. “I think coach helped me tremendously in developing my game. We haven’t really won games or got far in my career, but it has definitely been a blast overall playing these last four years.” Barring a surprise run in the Big East tournament, Edwin’s collegiate career is on the verge of coming to an end. The small forward is currently projected to be taken late in the second round by DraftExpress.
- Stars who stick with one franchise are getting increasingly rare, but Mavericks
big man Dirk Nowitzki is an exception, writes Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer. ”I basically grew up in Dallas,” Dirk said. “I came over here at 19 or 20 and now I’m 35. I’ve spent half of my life here. It is important for me to be a Maverick because I have deep connections with this franchise. The fans supported me through disappointing playoff losses. They were always by my side as I grew as a player. I can’t see myself playing for another franchise.”
- Suns coach Jeff Hornacek is targeting Wednesday’s game versus Washington for a return of injured guard Eric Bledsoe, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Bledsoe will initially be coming off of the bench.
- Earl “The Pearl” Monroe threw his support behind former teammate Phil Jackson who could be taking over the Knicks front office, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.