Phil Jackson was first offered a head coaching position with the Knicks this week, even though Mike Woodson is still (for reasons unknown) firmly in place.
Jackson declined that one, so New York upped the ante with a front office job offer, one that Jackson would reportedly be deciding on in the coming week.
No decision has yet been made, but the latest report has Jackson “leaning toward” accepting.
Phil Jackson is leaning toward taking a front-office job with the New York Knicks, a source close to the team tells ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Jackson’s role would be president of basketball operations, in complete control of all basketball-related matters, according to the source.
It is unclear whether the decision would include an agreement to coach the Knicks next season, the source said. A decision is expected sometime next week.
The part about having “complete control” over basketball decisions is likely what the hold-up is.
Knicks owner James Dolan has a long history of not letting smart basketball people do what’s best for the franchise — something that was pointed out by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News last week:
The other major stumbling block would be Jackson’s ability to work with Dolan, who has a history of being a meddling owner. Jackson would be handsomely compensated and will likely be promised full autonomy. Of course, the same was true of Donnie Walsh, an executive with more experience who was eventually forced out by Dolan after Dolan hijacked the Carmelo Anthony negotiations from Walsh.
New York is a market that needs a star player like Anthony in place for a variety of reasons, but the package of assets the team ended up shipping to Denver in exchange was insane, and only happened because Dolan intervened to make sure the deal took place.
That move (and others) have the Knicks short on draft picks for the next couple of seasons, with few assets that could bring back players in return that would help the team show immediate improvement. And of course, things are even more precarious at the moment with Anthony having the ability to bolt the franchise in free agency this summer.
That’s a lot for the 68-year-old Jackson to consider when weighing if New York is indeed the place where he wants to make his return to the NBA. But it sounds like he’s almost there.