Phil Jackson On Triangle, Free Agency, ‘Melo

Knicks president Phil Jackson was frank when he sat down last week to speak with Harvey Araton of The New York Times, telling him that, “So far, my experiment has fallen flat on its face.” The team has won five of its last seven, but New York is still only 10-38 and just a half-game in front of the last-place Sixers in the Eastern Conference. Still, Jackson told Araton that he has spent “not one moment” lamenting the offseason trade that sent away Tyson Chandler and brought in Jose Calderon, whom Jackson and the Knicks are reportedly shopping.

The Zen Master said that a chance to advocate and popularize the Triangle Offense was one reason he took the job, and while he admitted that the system could hinder the team as it tries to recruit free agents, he argued that it is nonetheless appealing. Under no circumstances will Jackson coach the team, Araton writes, and the Times scribe hints that Jackson, who’s nearly a year into a five-year contract, isn’t planning on staying with the Knicks long-term. There’s plenty more in Araton’s full interview with Jackson, which is worth a read, and we’ll pass along a few noteworthy tidbits that relate to player movement here:

On the idea that the triangle with keep free agents away:

“Of course it’s a concern of mine, the perception that it’s too difficult to learn or too difficult for today’s players to embrace. But I think anyone that believes he’s a total basketball player is going to want to do it. A sound offense incorporates all the basic skills of any player you have, whether you’re a center, a power forward, whatever. There are isolation spots in the triangle, but the only thing that precludes a player really fitting in is someone who has to have the whole side of the court to go one on one.”

On the pursuit of stars in free agency versus going after players who fit:

“You do need great players to win the championship, but having to always chase the best talent in free agency eventually becomes a mindset of, well, the best talent wins as opposed to who plays the best team basketball — which is what San Antonio showed last season. Their play was special, a team that really values passing, a system where they’re not just standing around, spacing out shooters. That’s also what Atlanta and a couple of other teams are showing this year.”

On re-signing Carmelo Anthony:

“He’s responsible, there’s a character base there that I’ve acquainted myself with, where I feel he has the nerve for the job, he’s not afraid. He has the capability of being a fourth-quarter guy who is going to make the shots. You need that kind of guy when you’re in the playoffs to win close games. You can run your triangle for three and a half quarters and it still comes down to having someone who is a little extra special down the stretch.”

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