At the press conference introducing Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks, team owner James Dolan said the conversations between the two started before Christmas at a party at Irving Azoff’s home (he’s a musical manager best known for being the guy in charge of the Eagles). From there conversations and a relationship were built over the months.
Those months included the trade deadline — and Jackson was consulting with the Knicks on potential deals.
Dolan sat down with the New York Times for a must read long-form story about Dolan’s courtship of Jackson. In there Dolan talked about the trade deadline.
Jackson was already becoming involved in the team’s decision-making process. Dolan said he sought Jackson’s approval on several deals the team tried to make as the Feb. 20 trade deadline loomed. Dolan, declining to elaborate on the deals, said he was reluctant to make a move that would hinder Jackson’s long-term strategy.
“If it was a trade that didn’t fit what he was thinking — and I couldn’t tell you the specifics of what he was thinking, but I knew he had a plan,” Dolan said. “I believed he was coming on board, and I felt I should consult him.”
This is exactly what the Knicks should have been doing — if Jackson was going to take over you don’t want to trade away players they want.
For example, Iman Shumpert. He was reportedly on the block — in fact a reported deal with the Clippers for Darren Collison was reportedly in place — but now we hear Jackson is a big Shumpert fan and wants him to be part of the future of the Knicks. (That or they want people to think that to up his trade value….)
The important take away here is one of the key ones from the press conference — Dolan trusts Jackson and wants him to be the decision maker. That is huge. I don’t know how good an executive Phil Jackson will turn out to be, but he will be better than a meddling Dolan. That alone is a step forward for the Knicks (as long as Dolan stays out of the way).