4:55pm: Jackson is leaning toward taking the Knicks job offer to become president of basketball operations, per Stephen A. Smith of ESPN.com. Smith’s source says it’s unclear if the role would include coaching the team next season. It was earlier reported that Jackson turned down a coaching offer with New York before the front office gig was extended.
12:40pm: In an update from a previous piece, Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports that Phil Jackson would be open to coaching for a short transition period, if it went along with the kind of front office role similar to Pat Riley‘s in Miami that Jackson is interested in. Jackson has managed to work the story on the Knicks job offer overwhelmingly to his benefit. He has everyone talking, with the media essentially negotiating on his behalf in public.
Mitch Lawrence of The New York Daily News believes the Knicks should give Jackson complete control over basketball activities, despite some potential pitfalls with Jackson’s disposition and lack of experience. Lawrence says having Jackson at the helm would be a better gamble than leaving it in the hands of current team executives. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com makes the same plea, saying that giving Jackson the keys to the franchise would provide hope to a fan base dealing with a disappointing season and bracing for another.
Before Friday night’s game, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and J.R. Smith told reporters they weren’t in the loop on the Jackson talks, including Fred Kerber of The New York Post. Smith added that he thinks coach Mike Woodson is being treated unfairly. “I think he’s done a great job since he’s taken over. To have a bad year, I don’t think he should take the blame for everything. The players should take the blame for that and we should move on as a unit instead of singling people out,” said Smith.
While most are excited about Jackson’s return to the league, New York’s awkward steps up to this point are not being forgotten. Scott Cacciola of The New York Times writes that GM Steve Mills was planning on being more open with the media when the season began, but hasn’t publicly addressed anything about the team since October. With a dive to the bottom of the standings, trade speculation for multiple players, hot seat rumors regarding Woodson, and now the buzz around Jackson, the Knicks have remained silent while their players and coach take the brunt of the media’s questions.
Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.