Phil Jackson to the Knicks: How Does He Help?
By: Dylan Elder – Editor-in-Chief.
Why is the NFL the most popular professional sports league in the country? Because they sell hope. Year in and year out.
Every season is a clean slate that includes playoff aspirations for all 32 teams. Clubs don’t mortgage their future by trading multiple first round picks because they know things can turn around so quick. Take a look at last years’ Kansas City Chiefs, or the Indianapolis Colts the season before that. Both picked at the top of their respective drafts, and then both won 11 games and made the playoffs the following season.
This season, the “h-word” is at an all-time low for the Knicks.
They currently employ a top 10 NBA player (Carmelo Anthony), the reigning 6th man of the year (J.R. Smith) and a once prosperous young star full of potential (Iman Shumpert) yet still sit with a laughable 26-40 record and are fighting for perhaps the least admirable playoff spot in NBA history (the 8th seed in the East).
Even if they somehow beat the odds and sneak into the playoffs, the team will ultimately face the inevitable ass-whopping from either Miami or Indiana. Moreover, New York doesn’t own their first round pick this year, nor in 2016, so finding quality young talent will be a major challenge.
Phil Jackson coming aboard doesn’t assuage any of those problems. He wont help the Knicks win a playoff series and he wont get them their first round picks back. However, he can be of service in a multitude of different ways.
First of all, rumor has it that Jackson wants to hire Steve Kerr (former Bulls guard and Suns GM) at seasons end to be the new coach of the Knicks. If this is true, then it might as well be feast or famine for the team that now plays second fiddle in their own city. Phil Jackson has a tendency to micromanage things which at times is a great strength. However, if the Kerr hiring comes to fruition, I can easily see him becoming Jackson’s guinea pig meaning that Phil would hold the real power over the players, not Kerr.
That dynamic can become a major problem and it is one that Jackson must have to work diligently to avoid. He really should take notes from his friend Pat Riley down in Miami. Riley only works behind the scenes and constantly iterates (although the need for that is not there anymore) that he will not coach the Heat in any capacity. And look at the good from that situation.
This bring us to where Phil Jackson’s value truly comes into play. The mystique around the former player and coach is undeniable and most definitely intriguing. If Jackson can somehow use his aura to attract high-profile free agents then he could be of great service to the floundering franchise.
Right now, the most important thing on Phil Jackson’s mind is how the hell he’s going to sell Carmelo Anthony on staying in the Big Apple. Sure, he can get more money in New York than anywhere else, but Melo wants more than that. This is a player who has only been out of the first round of the playoffs twice in his decade long career: the man wants to win.
If Jackson can devise a plan to keep Anthony, the next step turns towards luring other capable talent to play around him. Stars want to play with other stars, and if Jackson can play his trademark mind games, he might be able to attract some top-notch players.
Today is a good day for Knicks fans. Phil Jackson brings hope to the team. Hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies.