The Knicks hired Derek Fisher instead and slogged through a 17-65 season. Jackson said he resisted the urge to interfere with the coach’s business.
“I thought that maybe I stepped back too far last year. I wanted Derek to be his own person, have his own feel for this,” Jackson said Friday. “I think that was multiplied in numbers of ways. Derek has asked me to be a little more present this year, actually. Not in the aspect of whatever, coaching, but just being around and coaching basketball and influential in observations. I think I’ll be probably more involved than I was last year in just being here and being watchful, suggestive, watching film together with Derek at times.”
Fisher didn’t seem ready to coach an NBA team last season, which is fair. He’d stopped playing only a couple months prior.
At best, Jackson – a Hall of Fame coach – will provide valuable input. Fisher will learn first-hand and become a better coach himself. Jackson will establish closer connections with the players and use that better understanding to run the front office.
At worst, Jackson will undermine Fisher and cause tension. Fisher’s growth will stagnate as he defers to Jackson. Focusing too much on coaching, Jackson will neglect his roster-assembly responsibilities.
Jackson and Fisher need clearly defined boundaries. As boss, Jackson can define them. Then, and only then, this might work.
Without established parameters, this could become a big mess.