Cleat Geeks

Knicks And Jackson Finally Admit Failure

Phil Jackson and the Knicks have been together for 3 seasons. In those 3 seasons the Knicks have a record of 80-166. Do I need to say anything else? I mean bam! trump! Yahtzee!

“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” the team’s owner, James L. Dolan, said.

Dolan said in a statement that Steve Mills, the team’s general manager, would lead the team’s day-to-day operations “over the short term,” and that he had enlisted Tim Leiweke, a longtime sports executive, to advise Mills on an interim basis and “help develop a go-forward plan.” Dolan also thanked Jackson for his service to the team.

In the same statement released by the Knicks, Jackson also had some comments: “The New York Knicks will always hold a special place in my heart. This team and this town launched my N.B.A. career. I will forever be indebted to them.”

Jackson also added: “I had hoped, of course, to bring another N.B.A. championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to do that. New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best — today and always.”

Photo By: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson clashed almost immediately with superstar Carmelo Anthony but ultimately it was his stubbornness with another superstar that he actually drafted that was the icing on his exit cake. In April Kristaps Porzingis, the team’s 7-foot-3 power forward and a lone source of optimism for the Knicks’ beleaguered fan base skipped his exit interview with Jackson at the end of the season. It was Porzingis’s way of broadcasting his frustration with the direction of the franchise. It clearly annoyed Jackson, who went so far as to make Porzingis available in trade talks ahead of last Thursday’s NBA Draft. At one time, Porzingis had represented Jackson’s greatest triumph as an executive. After the Knicks selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Porzingis lived up to, and perhaps even exceeded, outsize expectations in his first two seasons with the team. Last season, he averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds a game and was clearly shaping himself into one of the more versatile offensive players in the league.

But after Porzingis skipped his meeting with Jackson and went home to Latvia, his estrangement from the team only grew. But Jackson continued to show his stubbornness in an odd power play when Jackson declined to renew the contract of Josh Longstaff, one of Porzingis’s favorite assistant coaches. Then, last week, on the eve of the draft, Jackson appeared on the MSG Network to confirm that he was fielding calls from teams that were interested in acquiring Porzingis. Jackson also defended himself by saying, “I think we know what we’re doing. Although that’s not been apparent in our record the last couple of years, we’ve grown from within.”

By Tuesday, Dolan had seen enough. In recent days speculation had grown that the Knicks might even consider a buyout of the remaining $55 million on Anthony’s contract, a reflection of the frustration Jackson felt over his inability to trade him to another team. But, instead it is Jackson who is leaving.

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