Jim Cleamons

Fallout From Jackson/Knicks Press Conference

Here’s a roundup of more Phil Jackson/Knicks-related notes worth passing along tonight..

  • Though it was made clear that Steve Mills will continue to handle the duties of a general manager in New York, sources tell Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News that Jackson will be allowed to choose a “basketball man” to help him run the front office. At that point, Mills will have more of a ceremonial role once Jackson has his preferred brain trust in place.
  • The above piece shed some light on Ronnie Lester potentially being brought in to assist Jackson. Lester, who served as the No. 2 to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak when Jackson was with the Lakers, would be a viable executive that New York fans could feel better about, says Lawrence. If not Lester, then that person would have to have strong ties to Jackson in order to receive consideration.
  • The Zen Master may have alluded to a plan to “work the bushes” in order to improve the roster, but people who have spoken with him recently say that he’ll deliberately wait until Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and Andrea Bargnani come off the cap in order to accommodate another star and perhaps other pieces.
  • The thought of Jackson luring Jim Paxson away from the Bulls front office to be his “basketball man” is an intriguing one, opines Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, who also envisions Steve KerrJim Cleamons, Bill Cartwright, Pete Myers, and Kurt Rambis eventually joining Jackson’s regime (Twitter links).
  • James Dolan tells Scott Cacciola of the New York Times that he sought Jackson’s approval on several deadline deals the team tried to make this season: “If it was a trade that didn’t fit what he was thinking — and I couldn’t tell you the specifics of what he was thinking, but I knew he had a plan … I believed he was coming on board, and I felt I should consult him.”
  • The Knicks owner also shared how he plans to let Jackson and Mills operate: “They’re going to come in, and they’re going to tell me what they want to do. They’re going to tell me how much it costs, and I’m going to say yes — assuming it doesn’t bankrupt the company. I don’t think they’ll come in with a bankrupt-the-company scenario, but I’ve told them that I’m willing to spend. We need a championship here.”   

Knicks Notes: Kerr, Jackson, Anthony

Steve Kerr hasn’t given his colleagues in broadcasting any strong signals that he’s itching to leave the broadcast table to take over the Knicks, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Kerr has indicated that he’d like to be a head coach someday, though. Also from Berger’s article, Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, two former Phil Jackson assistants, are expected to get serious consideration for the position. So would Brian Shaw, whom Jackson groomed to take over for him with the Lakers, if he weren’t finishing the first year of a three-year deal as the head coach of the Nuggets. The article also notes that If Jackson was so inclined to look to the college ranks, he might consider Virginia coach Tony Bennett, the son of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett.

More from the city that never sleeps:

  • Carmelo Anthony is willing to make changes to his game if Jackson believes it will give the Knicks a better chance to win a championship, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Anthony said, “I’m willing to do whatever. As long as it’s going to put me in a position to win, I’m willing to do whatever. I’m not sold or stuck on my play. What I’ve been able to do these past 10, 11 years has gotten me at where I am right now. If Phil wants to come in and change that this late in my career, if it’s going to help me win a championship, I’m with it.
  • Add Michael Jordan to the list of people who think that Jackson can succeed in New York, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com. Jordan said, “Phil can do some good things with them because he’s gifted. Phil is fantastic at managing egos and personalities, getting everyone on the same page and maxing out whatever potential is there for what should be the common and ultimate goal.
  • Anthony said that the hiring of Jackson will affect his upcoming free agency, writes Matt Moore of CBSSports.com. If Jackson comes in and says he has a plan to surround ‘Melo with a roster that can win a championship, and if the other things he says strike a chord, Anthony will re-sign with New York, opines Moore.
  • It’s unknown if Jackson will bring the triangle offense with him to New York. Harvey Araton of The New York Times examines the pros and cons of the system, and how the current Knicks roster might perform in that offense.

Knicks Notes: Jackson, Cleamons, Woodson

Carmelo Anthony is one of the players on the Knicks who is excited about Phil Jackson joining the organization, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Anthony said, “I’m a chess player. That was a power move right there. You know what I mean? So, now we’re going to see what’s the next move, but that was a great power move.” Whether or not Anthony re-signs will play a huge part in shaping the team’s future, so any endorsement could be considered a positive sign, opines Begley.

More from New York:

  • Mike Woodson continues to be defiant when asked about his future with the team, writes Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. Asked if he believes he needs to prove himself to the team’s new executive, Woodson replied, “I don’t think I need to prove anything as a coach. I’ve never felt that way. I try to do my job the best I can do, and if you’re gonna judge me on 16 games, then that’s on you. I’ve tried to do the best I can do, in terms of my everyday approach to the game.
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com notes that one prominent Eastern Conference scout thinks Jackson will be a terrible fit thanks to his inexperience. The scout also opined that the Knicks would have been better off trying to lure Thunder GM Sam Presti or the Spurs’ R.C. Buford instead.
  • Jim Cleamons could be on his way to the Knicks after the season as an assistant coach, and might be a candidate for the head coaching position, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman cites Cleamons’ long time relationship with Jackson and in-depth knowledge of the triangle offense as selling points for bringing Cleamons to New York in either position.
  • Steve Mills isn’t being pushed out. He’s just “scooting over,” writes George Willis of The New York Post. Landing Jackson was part of a plan he endorsed to get the Knicks in position to not only stay competitive in 2014/15, but also take full advantage of the 2015/16 free-agent market. Mills is also still part of that plan, writes Willis. Mills still will be in charge of the business of basketball, especially when it comes to dealing with the agents, for whom Jackson has little patience, according to the article.

Mike Woodson Wants Sit-Down With Phil Jackson

With Phil Jackson now embedded at the top of the basketball decision-making hierarchy in New York, current Knicks head coach Mike Woodson would like a sit-down with his new boss, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. While Woodson has said the right things about Jackson, it’s no secret that his future with the Knicks is uncertain despite being under contract for next season.

The Knicks are hoping to hold Jackson’s introductory press conference on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, reports Berman, providing an opportunity for such a meeting to take place. Rumors have begun to swirl about Jackson installing his signature triangle offense in New York, which would likely necessitate a new coach. Woodson is hoping for fair consideration.

“I would want him to view me as a coach,’’ Woodson said. “If and when that time comes, I would just love the chance to sit with him and talk basketball. He’s a basketball guy, I’m a basketball guy. This is 30 years I’ve spent in this league so that’s what we’ll do, but until that happens my focus is strictly on trying to get this team in the playoffs. That’s it.’’

Berman lists Steve Kerr, Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw and Bucks assistant Jim Cleamons as former Jackson disciples who might draw consideration. He also mentions Nate McMillan as a “strong possibility” before implying that past tension with Jackson might dispel the possibility for Jeff Van Gundy‘s return to New York.

Odds & Ends: Brewer, Bucks, McGrady, Heat

Ronnie Brewer considered signing with the Bulls, Jazz and Lakers before ultimately choosing the Rockets, the 28-year-old swingman tells Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. He also reiterated his assertion from June that the Thunder were in play to re-sign him, too, but Houston's up-tempo style of play helped sway him. Despite having only a partially guaranteed deal on a team with a league-high 19 players under contract, he's not worried about getting cut. "If I come in and I do what I'm supposed to do, all of that goes out the window," he said to Berman. As Brewer gets set to officially sign his contract, here's more on the league's comings and goings with about a month to go before training camp:

  • The Bucks have hired David Morway as assistant GM and Jim Cleamons as the team's top assistant coach, notes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.
  • So much of Tracy McGrady's talent vanished long before he announced his retirement today, and he went underappreciated in Orlando during his peak years, as John Denton of Magic.com argues. The Magic, Raptors and Rockets are all left wondering what might have been, the Toronto Sun's Ryan Wolstat writes.
  • Toure Murry still hasn't committed to the Knicks nearly a month after the club extended him a training camp invitation, but the 6'5" guard is expected to pick a team later this week, according to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link).
  • In his latest mailbag for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman discusses the Heat's luxury-tax situation, their mid-level exception, and the possibility of the team signing Richard Hamilton.
  • Now that 14 NBA teams have one-on-one relationships with their respective D-League affiliates, the remaining 16 teams are sharing three D-League clubs. Nonetheless, those squads with five or six NBA affiliations can still help young NBA players develop, as Gino Pilato of Ridiculous Upside outlines.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Pistons, Bucks, Heat

Let's round up some Wednesday links from around the Eastern Conference….

Jackson, D’Antoni Top List Of Lakers Candidates

10:59pm: TNT's David Aldridge hears the Lakers are pursuing Phil Jackson "like crazy," but he would likely command a salary of more than the $12MM he made in 2009. That would make him the league's highest paid coach by a wide margin over Celtics boss Doc Rivers, who makes $7MM a year. The decision on a coach will be made by owner Jerry Buss, and not son Jim, Aldridge says, adding that Mike D'Antoni would welcome the chance to coach Steve Nash again.

9:34pm: A meeting between the Lakers and Jackson could happen by the end of the weekend, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

8:31pm: Phil Jackson and Mike D'Antoni are the leading candidates for the Lakers head coaching position, Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com report, adding that the two coaches are "neck and neck" in the eyes of Lakers management.

The team is expected to reach out to them and several other candidates as early as Saturday morning. Shelburne hears there's "no ill will" between Jackson and Lakers executive Jim Buss.

8:27pm: Former Jackson assistants Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons are prepared to return to the bench should Jackson get the Lakers job, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

8:13pm: Gary Payton, who played for the Lakers under Jackson, doesn't foresee a return, as he tells Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida (Sulia link). "Because he’d be going back into a situation where they blasted him when he left," Payton said. "You heard all that stuff (from the Lakers) when he left that they didn’t want to hire anybody affiliated with Phil Jackson’s system. That’s why they didn’t hire (Brian Shaw). They fired everybody that was affiliated with Phil."

7:19pm: "Prominent figures" in the Lakers organization want the team to hire Jackson, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Berger hears Jackson wanted to coach the Knicks this summer before they recommitted to Mike Woodson, and the Zen Master would have brought former assistant coach Kurt Rambis with him. If hired by the Lakers, Jackson would have his choice of assistants to bring on board.

Berger hears other names the Lakers are considering are Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Sloan and Nate McMillan. The Lakers haven't had contact with Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, whose team wouldn't let him walk midseason, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). Cavs coach Byron Scott isn't interested in the position, tweets The Plain Dealer. 

6:38pm: The Lakers have compiled a list of four or five candidates to become the team's new head coach, and the list includes Phil Jackson's name, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. McMenamin hears the Lakers have not yet reached out to Jackson, though a source hinted to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News that the two sides have had contact, as we passed along earlier.

Jackson, who finished his second stint as Lakers coach in 2011, is still a frequent visitor to the team's practice facility, McMenamin notes, and his longtime girlfriend is Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, daughter of team owner Jerry Buss. The 67-year-old Jackson has often cited his health as a reason why he wouldn't return to coaching, but McMenamin hears Jackson's health is "getting better and better."

Sources indicate to McMenamin that Jackson would like to bring along an assistant coach whom he could groom as an eventual replacement. Jackson was scheduled to make a speaking engagement at an investor's convention next week in Chicago, but has canceled, according to Financial Advisor magazine.