Report: Dolan Could Step In Again, This Time to Remove Phil Jackson
Usually Dolan’s intervention end up with bad decisions, but terminating the Phil era may be the only right step for the Knicks
Are you awake? If you’re like me, then you awoke to quite the Woj bomb. The Vertical’s (and soon to be ESPN’s) Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted past midnight the dramatic news that Madison Square Garden Company Chariman–essentially the head honcho–himself James Dolan is weighing President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson’s future with the Knicks.
Jackson came on board as president of the team in March of 2014 with a contract that was extended for the next season. Phil has accumulated an 80–166 record while supervising the franchise between the 2014–15–2016–17 seasons. He’s made several puzzling moves, such as trading Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler for barely anything, signing Joakim Noah to a harmful four-year, $72 million contract, and most recently publicly ostracizing the faces of the franchise Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.
Dolan, the “JD and the Straight Shot” frontman, had repeatedly affirmed his non-intervention of the team since the hiring of Jackson. However, in the past, Dolan had been involved with numerous, top decisions made by the organization, such as being a key member in handling Isiah Thomas’ tenure with the team. In this case, though, Dolan may seriously be the only one to stop Phil’s consistent efforts to damage the public image of the ‘Bockers and hurt their future. Recent news of a Carmelo buyout, for instance, would be a negative due to the fact that the Knicks would have to pay close to his salary and give him the opportunity to sign anywhere he’d like. Instead, Jackson and the Knicks are tasked with finding a suitable trade for ‘Melo; oh, and by the way, Phil was responsible for agreeing to give Anthony his no-trade clause when the latter re-signed in the summer of 2014.
Jackson’s potential ousting would mirror another major front office shake-up in the NBA. David Griffin’s exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers occurred quite suddenly for the three-time consecutive Eastern Conference champs. The close proximity to NBA’s free agency (starting on July 1, with a short moratorium to follow) would send the Knicks’ front office into a frenzy, unless Dolan can provide a new figurehead to lead the organization before pen-to-paper contracts are signed or free agents missed without front office control.
The end of the Phil era coming right before the team needs to attract free agents to New York–something reportedly increasingly difficult–would come at a predictably unpredictable time for a team so hell-bent on living among chaos. Who will lead the front office if Jackson, and potentially GM Steve Mills, are both gone? Unfortunately, as necessary as it may be to part ways with the Zen Master, if Dolan doesn’t have immediate plans to hire a replacement, then the Knicks will have a mess on their hands during the free-for-all in free agency.
UPDATE: 1:37am EST.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne says that news is expected to be announced as early as in the morning:
UPDATE: 1:45 pm EST.
Woj’s story is finally up, and here’s what he has to say. Reportedly, Dolan is seriously weighing the possibility of firing Jackson in the very near future, citing grievances over handling the Porzingis trade drama last week, alienating players with the Triangle, and struggling to connect with head coaches Derek Fisher and Jeff Hornacek, among other things.
Here’s probably the biggest piece of information:
No final decision had been made on Jackson’s future late Tuesday night, but Dolan is harboring uncertainties about how much longer to commit to Jackson as the organization’s top basketball decision-maker, league sources told The Vertical.
Dolan has become increasingly concerned about Jackson’s fitness for the job and the long-term prospects of success for the franchise (via The Vertical)
This story is updating.
— Reid Goldsmith, managing editor