Phil Jackson Rumors: Tuesday

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.

Earlier updates:

  • 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 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 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.
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