If Phil Jackson can recruit one big-time free agent, he will have done his job.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Here's my analysis of Phil Jackson reportedly running the New York Knicks basketball operations: I have no clue.
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Honestly, I can not organize the thoughts in my head well enough to transfer them through the nerve endings in my fingertips to the page.
I have a lot of questions, that much I know.
Is Jackson qualified to run a front office? Sure, he's a top-three coach of all-time, but aren't the two jobs drastically different?
Does Jackson have an expert knowledge of the salary cap, or the CBA?
Does he have experience working with agents, or running a draft room?
Does he have any interest in analytics, which certainly shouldn't be a deal- breaker, as the league trends in that direction? Is Jackson well-versed in the technology most teams employ?
Those are just some questions about Jackson's qualifications for any general manager-type job, not specific to the Knicks.
Let's delve into that ...
Why does owner James Dolan think Jackson should get this job? Is Jackson's name recognition alone worth more than hiring an emerging GM who has spent years working alongside a smart basketball ops director?
Why is this job even open? Didn't Dolan hire Steve Mills to replace the successful Glen Grunwald just a half-hour before the season started?
If Jackson was targeted and interviewed for a coaching vacancy, how did Dolan jump to offering him this position?
Will Jackson's fistfuls of rings be enough to target the huge free-agent market expected after the 2014-15 season?
How much of an issue is it to work from Montana?
Isn't Dolan tired of making splashy moves that haven't worked at all? Would it be so wrong to take some time, wait until the offseason, sit down with the new basketball boss and hash out a long-term plan?
Should Dolan bring in a man who called the Knicks roster "clumsy" before the season, and essentially deemed superstar Carmelo Anthony, who is a free agent at season's end, selfish?
Does Jackson have a plan to rebuild this team with oodles of money (in a year) but no first-round picks until the next Winter Olympics?
And those are just questions Dolan should be asking himself. Imagine what Jackson is thinking ...
Should I uproot myself from the West Coast and loving embrace of fiancee Jennie Buss, plus the ranch in Montana? Can I do this from the sun room at the ranch with all of that fancy technology everyone raves about?
At 68, do I want to work again? Do I have the stamina to change careers at this age, coupled with all of the potential travel and long hours?
Following some serious health scares, do I need the stress?
Do I want to tarnish my legacy considering the only front-office work I did, as a consultant to the Detroit Pistons last summer, resulted in the head coach I recommended getting fired before Valentine's Day?
Does it need to be this team I come back to run, considering, due to salary cap issues, it'll probably be more of the same next season?
Am I ready to pull out all of stops to return Anthony to the fold? Am I bold enough to pass on Melo if I think that's right?
Will it be impossible to rebuild even though the Knicks will have more money than Tokyo after next season, considering they don't have a first-round pick until 2018?
Do I want to work for an owner who doesn't exactly earn rave reviews from a fan base, or people inside the organization? Didn't I go through that with the Bulls, so is it worth it in the twilight of my career to do it again?
Will I be able to wear flips-flops to work, especially if New York City has another winter like this one?
It's easy to label this as a star-obsessed owner trying to land a star. There's enough ego involved in this situation to split every party involved in two.
But that may be too easy. If there's a lot of self-admiration among Jackson, Dolan and anyone else intimate with this fluid situation, there's still another group with larger values of themselves - the players.
If Jackson can recruit one big-time free agent to stay with Anthony, maybe someone whose name rhymes with Schmevin Dove, he will have done his job. Stars love guys with pedigree. Jackson has more pedigree than a Petsmart.
It's not a long-term solution, but the Knicks' long-term plans are based on spending money on free agents. It's the best, most reasonable tact, not just because of the enormous lights New York City shines on leaders, but because of the fact that my 2-year-old will have a driver's license when the Knicks have another first-round pick.
Above all, Dolan needs to know that Jackson is fully committed. It's hard to imagine Jackson doing the job from L.A. or even Butte. This Knicks situation is very messy and needs maximum attention, Doing it via Skype sends a horrendous message.
This cleanup needs to be taken seriously. The eyes of the NBA will be focused on Madison Square Garden one year from June. The Knicks will have as much money as anyone to spend. But the job won't be easy from the start. Every story tying Melo and the Chicago Bulls makes it seem like a more serious destination than a few months ago, and that reality comes in just a few months.
Jackson may be the right guy for the job, although there's no evidence to support that. Not everyone can come in and run a team. However, we should safely assume that during his 11 championship runs, Jackson probably developed an eye for talent.
No matter what, I'm still not sure of anything. Just felt good to get it all of my chest.