Phil Jackson, James Dolan

Dolan: Phil Jackson was advising Knicks on moves at trade deadline


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).

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.