Jackson senses the urgency and is becoming more hands-on with the team. Kurt Rambis as coach is letting that happen in a way that Derek Fisher didn’t.
But could this lead to Jackson coaching the Knicks’ home games next season?
Those close to him say Jackson seems more energized these days. He has lost about 20 pounds of the 30 he gained during his first two years on the job. Even Kobe Bryant noticed, remarking after Sunday’s game in Los Angeles that, “He looks great. Physically he looks good. I’m happy for him.”
There’s even talk Jackson could offer to coach home games next season, with Rambis coaching the road games. It’s an offer the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss once flatly rejected, but it could be an interesting compromise to hiring Rambis as the head coach next season.
Up to this point, Jackson has flatly shot down any suggestion of his return to the bench, and he talked even this week about enjoying spending part of the winter in Los Angeles. He splits time between there and New York and up to this point has been almost more consultant than hands-on team president at times.
Maybe that is about to change — but a step onto the bench is another matter.
As Carmelo Anthony said earlier this season: “He’s not coming down. He’s not sitting on that sideline. Those days are long gone.”
Logistically, it would be a nightmare. As close as Jackson and Rambis are, splitting time with them being two coaches feels like it will be as successful as the vast majority of two quarterback systems in college football. Teams need consistency, and despite their closeness, Jackson and Rambis do things differently. Even if the rotations remained similar the styles both in game and in preparations for the games would be different. And if you’re an assistant coach for the Knicks, how does the idea of rotating bosses judging your work sound?
Jerry Buss shot down the idea with good reason. If this is broached with him, James Dolan should do the same. Teams should have just one coach, just one voice.
But the fact Jackson has talked with Carmelo Anthony about the future and is becoming more hands-on is a good thing.
Just remember, Jackson has a summer of 2017 opt-out of his deal with New York. And much more than a return to the bench, that remains in play.
Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors just keep on winning, now fastest to 60
1) Another milestone as Golden State becomes fastest to 60 wins, remains undefeated at home. The injury to Andre Iguodala — out a few weeks with an ankle sprain — gave a lot of pause to the “Golden State will get to 73 wins” bandwagon. He’s a Sixth Man of the Year candidate because he stabilizes their second unit, and he’s a vital part of their “death line up” when they go small with Draymond Green at the five, providing great defense on the wing plus another ball handler and scorer. With three games against the Spurs, some other tough matchups, and a few back-to-backs still to come, going 14-3 the rest of the way was not going to be easy.
Make that 13-3 now as the Warriors steamrolled a struggling New Orleans team 125-107 Monday night. That has the Warriors at 60-6 on the season, they are the fastest team to 60 wins in NBA history and remain ahead of the Bulls’ pace.
2) East playoff chase: Good night for the Bulls, not for Detroit. Chicago started the night out of the playoffs looking in, while Detroit held down the eighth seed in the East. The Bulls also had the daunting task of facing a good Raptors team and doing it without Pau Gasol — but with the return of Jimmy Butler and a huge 29-point night from Doug McDermott, Chicago got the upset win over Toronto, 107-105. That despite Drake getting in Justin Holiday‘s ear and forcing a five-second violation.
Detroit was facing the Washington Wizards, a team two games back of them and this was a chance for the Pistons to slam the door on the Wizards. Instead, Washington owned the game winning 124-81.
That puts Chicago back in the eight seed but in a virtual tie still with Detroit (Chicago is one game up in the loss column), and the Wizards are looming two games back still. Statistical site fivethirtyeight.com still gives the Pistons a 56 percent chance of making the playoffs, Chicago is at 35 percent, and the Wizards are hanging on at 17 percent.
3) West playoff chase: Good win for Mavericks, better one for Jazz.The Dallas Mavericks entered the night two games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West, but entering a brutal stretch of their schedule — the next six games are a gauntlet, and it started with the red-hot Hornets. But Dallas went into Charlotte and picked up the 107-96 upset win behind 24 points from Chandler Parsons (he’s played well of late) and 23 from Dirk Nowitzki. It’s the kind of win that improves a team’s odds of making the playoffs, and gives Dallas confidence heading into the next stretch.
Then Utah went out later that night on national television, without its leading scorer Gordon Hayward, and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85. That is a huge win for the Jazz. Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, but on the fourth game of a road trip the Cavaliers’ legs seem tired, and they shot 10-of-42 from three — and against the massive front line of Utah it’s tough to make up for those buckets by driving the lane and scoring. Rodney Hood stepped up and had 28 points for Utah.
Because of Dallas’ brutal schedule the rest of the way, statistical site fivethirtyeight.com still has it as a 71 percent chance the Jazz catch and pass the Mavericks to get the final playoff spot in the West. But Dallas is not going to make that easy if they get more wins like this one.
4) Russell Westbrook with 12th triple-double of the season in Thunder win. Just another day at the office for Russell Westbrook: 17 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds as the Thunder handled the Trail Blazers 128-94. That is Westbrook’s 12th triple-double of the season, and he did it in 21 minutes of playing time.
5) Andrew Bogut with as bad a free throw as you’re going to see. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say the ball slipped out of his hands because Bogut is a career 55 percent free throw shooter — not good, but not this bad.
Later Bogut did show some range draining a three up against the shot clock.
LeBron James finishes J.R. Smith alley-oop with authority (VIDEO)
Mirza Teletovic gives Phoenix about 20 minutes and 11 points a night off the bench, giving them solid minutes at the four.
Plus now he’s hit a couple of game-winners this season.
This latest one was a fading three as the clock wound down to lift Phoenix past Minnesota. Teletovic was one of the primary options on the play; he ‘d come off a couple of screens along the baseline to cut up along the arc. With 4.6 seconds on the clock when the ball was inbounded, there was time for very little play development, and it ended up being Teletovic with a contested three over Karl-Anthony Towns.