Phil Jackson

Noah Admits Guilt Over Jackson’s Firing

Knicks big man Joakim Noah spoke out about his feelings of guilt regarding Phil Jackson‘s firing as team president, relays Marc Berman of The NY Post. Noah feels that his awful season in 2016/17 contributed to Jackson’s ouster.

“It’s tough, man, because I got a lot of love and respect for Phil,’’ Noah said. “He gave me an opportunity to play back home. Somebody I read all his books as a kid. I was just a big fan and still am. I have a lot of respect for him. It didn’t work out. That sucks. It’s something I have to live with. He believed in me, and I kind of let him down. That’s frustrating. He got a lot of blame that it was his fault. But we didn’t lose all those games because of Phil Jackson.’’

Noah also admitted that he lost his confidence last season and was not moving properly. He said that his drug suspension “hurt a lot of people” and that he has “to live with it the rest of his career.” 

Jackson lavished Noah with a whopping four-year, $72 million contract last offseason, but Noah’s first season at Madison Square Garden proved to be a nightmare. Jackson was fired in late June. The NBA veteran is now ready to put last season’s struggles behind him and be a model mentor to the team’s big men.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Jackson, Smith Jr., Front Office Diversity

The Knicks recently exercised their team option to re-sign Kristaps Porzingis for 2018/19. However, if Phil Jackson were still calling the shots at Madison Square Garden, who’s to say what The Unicorn’s basketball future would look like, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype writes.

According to Peter Vecsey, who received the first and to-date only quote from Jackson after his departure from the Knicks, Jackson was legitimately interested in trading Porzingis.

Vecsey said:  “People knew, they probably wouldn’t have accepted, but Phil was angling to try and trade Porzingis for the No. 1 pick to Boston and he would have taken [Lonzo] Ball. That’s who he was after. In the end, people might really like that.”

Vecsey adds that when Jackson began embarrassing Porzingis, owner James Dolan knew Jackson was no longer a suitable executive for the team.

Here are some more notes regarding the Knicks:

  • Prior to this year’s NBA draft, Dennis Smith Jr. dined with former team president Jackson and was encouraged to eat an octopus tentacle, relays Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News. Although Smith reluctantly ate the exotic delicacy, the Knicks opted to draft Frank Ntilikina instead. Smith was selected by the Mavericks with the following pick. Smith was a standout performer at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League and has already inked a three-year endorsement deal with Under Armour.
  • Seventy years ago, the Knicks’ visionary coach Joe Lapchick pushed racial integration on a league that would merge with another to form the NBA three years later. Lapchick did so by fielding an all-black team that he pushed to have admitted to the league. Today, the Knicks are again at the vanguard of diversity, writes Harvey Araton of The New York Times. This time, New York is blazing trails in its front office, boasting the only African-American president-and-general-manager tandem in the NBA and proceeding to hire three more black front office executives in recent weeks.
  • For more news, notes, and rumors on the Knicks, be sure to check out their team page.

 

Knicks Notes: Hardaway, Porzingis, Draft, Perry

Knicks president Steve Mills had an aggressive plan that ultimately snared Tim Hardaway Jr., writes Newsday’s Al Iannazzone. Mills claims he reached out to Hardaway just after midnight on July 1. While Hardaway says that he didn’t hear from the Knicks until a few days into free agency, it is clear that Mills aggressively pursued the former Knick.

“We felt like there are not that many opportunities in free agency that you have the opportunity to go after a 25-year-old. We made the decision that if you want to pry a restricted free agent away from the incumbent team, you have to be aggressive. So we made a decision to be aggressive,” Mills said.

Reportedly, the Knicks brass believed that the Hawks would be willing to offer $45MM for four years, so Mills and company needed to be “aggressive” and offered $71MM over four years. Although Hardaway has started just 62 of 281 games in his career, Mills believes that he is a starting shooting guard in the NBA.

“As we look at the numbers, we believe Tim is a starting two-guard in this league. Our trajectory for him is to be a starting two- guard, the capability of being a starting two-guard for the rest of his career. And those guys average 16, 16.5 million dollars today. So that’s how we came to the decision,” the Knicks president said.

Here’s what else you should know regarding the Knicks:

  • Also in Iannazzone’s Newsday piece, Mills speaks to his relationship with team cornerstone, Kristaps Porzingis. “Kristaps and I have a hectic texting relationship. I continue to text Kristaps over the summer and he and I have spoken two or three times over the summer,” Mills said. Phil Jackson confirmed he was fielding trade offers for Porzingis around the draft, but since Jackson left the team, the Knicks have stated that they will build around the Latvian center.
  • By going young this season, the Knicks could score big in the 2018 NBA Draft, writes Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports Network. If Carmelo Anthony is dealt, the Knicks could enter full-scale rebuilding mode, possibly setting them up for the first overall pick in the next draft. Zagoria mentions Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, Luka Doncic, and Marvin Bagley as potential targets if the Knicks were to land the top selection.
  • In a press conference, Mills spoke about new GM Scott Perry‘s role with the team, relays Steve Popper of USA Today. “I’m going to give Scott the room to make basketball decisions and make recommendations to me,” Mills said. “He’s going to have a chance to manage the coaching staff, manage the scouting staff, and make recommendations as to where we should go as a basketball organization. I think we’ll be partners in that in the sense that he’ll come to me with his recommendation and we’ll debate it back and forth. But at the end of the day, I’m giving him the room to make those decisions.” Mills also emphasized that the goal is for the Knicks to be a younger, more athletic team, while head coach Jeff Hornacek stressed hustle and defense as the lynchpins of the new team.
  • Mills said that, if he were in charge, he “would’ve selected Frank [Ntilikina] at that point in the draft myself,” per Marc Berman of The New York Post. Mills continued, “He’s a guy that fits in everything that we’re talking about right now. He’s a smart basketball player. He focuses defensively and his approach to the game, his work ethic, fit exactly in the direction that we want to take this team.”

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Ndour, Iguodala

The Knicks have changed their tone with regard to Kristaps Porzingis now that former president Phil Jackson is out of the picture. These days, head coach Jeff Hornacek is confident that the third-year forward will remain in New York, Ian Begley of ESPN writes.

I think it was out there that Phil was listening, but he wasn’t out shopping KP,” The Knicks bench boss clarifies. “We love KP and what he does, so I don’t see him going anywhere.”

We wrote yesterday about how the Knicks will look to prioritize the 21-year-old more in their offense, something that Jackson had been reluctant to do. They’ve also actually been in touch with the 7’3″ sharpshooter as well, a sign that tension between the two parties following Porzingis’ missed exit meeting is simmering now that his biggest critic is no longer involved.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Recently waived Maurice Ndour may be a victim of bad timing, Marc Berman of the New York Post suggests. The forward was a favorite of Phil Jackson‘s and was cut shortly after the organization and former president parted ways. The Knicks let Ndour go to free up cap space.
  • The Sixers have ample cap space and no reservations using it, something that Warriors forward Andre Iguodala may have used to his advantage in his own free agent negotiations. Rob Tornoe of the Inquirer suggests that on some occasion, agents leak meetings with Philly to drive up prices.
  • The time is now for Brett Brown to show what he’s capable of as a head coach, Bob Cooney of the Inquirer writes. Brown has done an impressive job of harnessing effort out of his limited roster in the past, now he has legitimate weapons at his disposal.

Reaction To Phil Jackson’s Firing

Phil Jackson is gone, but owner James Dolan’s next move will determine how soon the Knicks can rebuild, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. It’s not clear yet whom New York is targeting to take Jackson’s place, but the author points out that Dolan has a history of poor decisions when it comes to choosing someone to run his basketball team. An obvious choice, Bontemps notes, is former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who couldn’t reach a new agreement in Cleveland.

GM Steve Mills will run the Knicks until a new president is hired, and Bontemps says he should start building the team around Kristaps Porzingis. He adds that Jackson’s feud with Porzingis, not the long-running one with Carmelo Anthony, is what led to today’s decision. Jackson shopped Porzingis around the league last week, and although there was plenty of interest, no offers were deemed acceptable.

Knicks Part Ways With Phil Jackson

8:37am: The Knicks have officially parted ways with Jackson, according to an announcement from the team. The club’s statement describes it as a mutual decision.Phil Jackson vertical

“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” Dolan said. “Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched. We wish him the best and thank him for his service to the Knicks as both a player and an executive.”

Former Raptors executive Tim Leiweke will assist the Knicks as an advisor during their search for a new head of basketball operations, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

7:54am: Dolan and the Knicks are targeting Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri for their top front office job, according to ESPN’s new NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Ujiri signed a multiyear extension with Toronto last September that tacked multiple years onto his contract beyond 2017/18, so if he’s interested in heading to New York, the Raptors would likely require compensation for their division rivals to let him out of his deal.

Ujiri, of course, has been on the other end of multiple notable Knicks trades, including the Anthony deal with Denver and an Andrea Bargnani swap with Toronto.

7:40am: The Knicks are expected to formally announce on Wednesday that they’re parting ways with president of basketball operations Phil Jackson, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The news comes on the heels of a report late on Tuesday night that Knicks owner James Dolan was weighing Jackson’s future with the franchise.

According to Shelburne, conversations about Jackson’s future “accelerated” in recent days after the organization decided that it wouldn’t buy out Carmelo Anthony. Jackson has been vocal for most of the year about his desire to move on from Anthony, but with Carmelo unwilling to waive his no-trade clause and the Knicks not open to accommodating a buyout, the two sides were at a stalemate.

[RELATED: Knicks resisting engaging in buyout talks with Carmelo Anthony]

Since Anthony seemingly wasn’t going anywhere, and it had become clear that Jackson didn’t intend to remain with the Knicks beyond the two years left on his contract, it made more and more sense for the two sides to go their separate ways, as Shelburne details.

While the public feud with Anthony was a key factor in Jackson’s departure, he made several other questionable moves during his tenure as Knicks president, including signing Joakim Noah to a $72MM+ contract last summer and seriously considering trading Kristaps Porzingis after the young Latvian skipped his exit meeting at the end of the 2016/17 season.

The decision on Jackson’s future represents an about-face for Dolan. Despite the fact that some people close to him had been urging him to move on from Jackson for some time, per ESPN, the Knicks owner exercised his side of Jackson’s option earlier this year, locking him in for the final two years of his contract. Assuming the two sides didn’t reach some sort of buyout agreement, the Knicks will remain on the hook for a reported $24MM for Jackson’s final two years.

With Jackson no longer in the picture in New York, it’s possible that Anthony will become more open to a trade, having outlasted the team president and “won” the feud. However, it seems more likely that GM Steve Mills, who will run the show in the interim, will put less pressure on Anthony to waive his no-trade clause, allowing him to remain with the Knicks. I would expect that the team no longer intends to run the triangle offense going forward either.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

James Dolan Weighing Phil Jackson’s Future With Knicks

Knicks owner James Dolan is weighing the future of team president Phil Jackson in New York, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, a final decision on Jackson’s future has not been made, but Dolan is “harboring uncertainties” about the job the Hall of Fame coach is doing in the Knicks’ front office.

Jackson’s performance as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations has been increasingly questioned within the last year as he became entangled in a public feud with Carmelo Anthony. Despite the fact that the star forward holds a no-trade clause, Jackson has publicly suggested he’d like to move on from Anthony, creating an unusual standoff as the new league year approaches.

The Anthony situation – along with a series of questionable roster moves that included a four-year, $72MM+ commitment to Joakim Noah – wasn’t enough to stop Dolan from exercising his side of Jackson’s option to keep him under contract through 2018/19. However, according to Wojnarowski, the Knicks owner has become “increasingly concerned” about Jackson’s fitness for the job and for the long-term future of the franchise.

The highlight of Jackson’s tenure with the Knicks so far was his pick of Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft. However, even that success story has taken an unexpected turn in recent months.

Frustrated with the Knicks’ dysfunction, Porzingis skipped his exit meeting with the franchise at season’s end, and Jackson responded by making the big man available in trade talks leading up to the draft. While Porzingis remains a Knick, Jackson’s willingness to seriously entertain trade possibilities appears to have been a red flag for Dolan.

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Knicks sources expect clarity on Jackson’s future to come in some form on Wednesday morning. If the team does decide to shake up its front office, the timing will be less than ideal — free agency officially gets underway in less than 72 hours.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Artis, Porzingis

After impressing the Knicks in his exit interview, Derrick Rose may have secured himself a spot with the franchise next season, Charley Rosen of FanRag Sports writes. The free agent guard will, however, have to make some adjustments should the team re-sign him.

Rosen notes that Rose will have to learn to make quicker decisions with the ball and limit the amount of times he penetrates without a plan, something he was able to do with ease during the early stages of his career.

Should the veteran enthusiastically buy into the triangle and hone up his defense in a follow up season with the franchise, he could be the team’s short-term answer at point guard until rookie Frank Ntilikina is ready to take on a larger role.

There’s more out of New York:

  • When the Knicks signed undrafted rookie Jamel Artis to a partially guaranteed deal this week, they landed a player who is eager to fill a role in the triangle offense, Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports writes. “I’ll fit in that system very well. I’m a versatile player and I’m a shooter, so I can space the floor in the triangle,” he said.
  • Count Malik Monk‘s poor fit within the triangle as one of the major reasons why the Knicks didn’t select him with their eighth overall pick, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes. Frank Ntilikina, on the other hand, is precisely the type of player Phil Jackson prefers as his lead guard.
  • Team president Phil Jackson is wary of building a future together with Kristaps Porzingis after the 21-year-old famously blew off his exit meeting with the franchise, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. The worry, Berman notes, is to what extent Porzingis could damage the organization with future acts of rebellion.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Ntilikina, Jaramaz, Jackson

Derrick Rose‘s agent, B.J. Armstrong, would like to meet with the Knicks before free agency begins Saturday, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York could head off Rose’s free agency by working out an extension this week, and team president Phil Jackson said, “We’re listening,” when asked about that possibility. Rose has been cleared for running and contact after surgery in April to fix a torn meniscus. “It’s a matter of wanting to hear from them and their vision of what the team is trying to do,” Armstrong said. “We stated our intention … once we got traded there, we want to be in New York. At the same time, we have to see what it is and go from there. Let’s listen and gather information.’’

The Timberwolves are expected to be a contender for Rose, with one GM telling Berman that Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau would bring in all his former Bulls players if he had the opportunity. The Wolves, who traded for Jimmy Butler on Thursday, talked to the Knicks about a swap of Rose and Ricky Rubio in February, but pulled out before the deal could be completed. Sources told Berman that others in the Minnesota organization convinced Thibodeau not to make the trade because Rose wouldn’t be guaranteed to stay.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Knicks fans chanted “Fire Phil” at the draft and booed owner James Dolan as his band played across town, but there was no negative reception for first-rounder Frank Ntilikina, writes Steve Popper of USA Today. The French point guard provides optimism and enthusiasm for an organization that can’t seem to escape chaos. “What I will bring to the Knicks, actually a lot of hope,” Ntilikina said. “I think I’m a player who will trust the process, work hard, and definitely try to be the best player I can be, who will give energy. I think I’m a team point guard and shooting guard actually. I’ll just try to make my teammates be better every day, and I think I can play defense, too.”
  • ESPN’s Frank Fraschilla, an expert on international prospects, thinks Ntilikina has a bright future in the NBA, but not the Knicks’ No. 58 pick, Berman notes in a separate story. Serbian Ognjen Jaramaz is a draft-and-stash player who might never make it onto the Knicks’ roster. “Chances are he’ll never play in the NBA and Knicks fans will never see him other than summer league,’’ Fraschilla said. “He’s an older international kid, very limited upside. He’s a hard-nosed competitor but not really a great athlete or shooter.”
  • Drafting an 18-year-old and seemingly launching a youth movement are signs that Jackson is planning to stay in New York for a long time, writes Mike Lupica of The New York Daily News. Lupica notes that with a $12MM-a-year-salary and no chance to return to the Lakers now that a new management team is in place, Jackson has nothing but time.

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Ainge, Raptors, Nets, Sixers

After much speculation, the Knicks ultimately decided to select French point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eight pick in the NBA Draft. Names like Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk — both of whom were still available when the Knicks were on the clock — were bypassed in favor of the athletic guard.

As Ian Begley of ESPN writes, team president Phil Jackson spoke about New York’s highly-debated selection and the ability that made the 18-year-old a must-have prospect.

“We like the size of this young man, we like his aptitude for the game, athleticism, actually the ability to incorporate himself in a winning type of a situation,” Jackson said.

New York used its 44th pick on Houston’s Damyean Dotson and its 58th pick on Serbian guard Ognjen Jaramaz. Under Jackson, the Knicks have emphasized selecting European talent and college seniors; with the team looking to build aorund young talent, it’s likely that the 2017 draft picks — particularly Ntilikina — get decent looks next season.

Here are additional notes from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (via Twitter), the Raptors tried trading up in the draft to select OG Anunoby but were pleasantly surprised when he was still available come the 23rd pick.
  • On a similar note, the Nets liked Michigan’s D.J. Wilson and tried trading up, but did not have the assets to do so, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (via Twitter). Wilson was taken 17th overall by the Bucks.
  • Despite rumors linking the Celtics to Jimmy Butler, general manager Danny Ainge told reporters, including ESPN’s Chris Forsberg, that no recent discussions to acquire the former Bulls All-Star happened.
  • Per Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly (via Twitter), all of the Sixers‘ international picks are expected to stay overseas next season.
  • After drafting Markelle Fultz this year, Ben Simmons last year, and assembling a drove of young talent, now is the time for Sixers head coach Brett Brown to put together a winning product, Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Cooney writes.
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