Phil Jackson says he’s not frustrated by amount of Knicks’ triangle usage, not eying Lakers job

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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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As long as Phil Jackson’s Knicks continue to struggle, we’re going to hear the same questions:

Is the triangle working? Will he leave for the Lakers?

Jackson, in a Q&A with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

JM: There have been reports you are frustrated that (Knicks coach) Jeff Hornacek isn’t employing the triangle offense enough. Is that the case?

PJ: No. But when they run it I want them to run it the right way. If you are going to do it, use your skills and run it the right way. I’m not frustrated at all. Derrick Rose missed three weeks of training camp (because of a civil trial). It’s totally understandable where we are as a ballclub. We have guards that do a lot of stuff off the dribble. I want them to understand they can do things off the pass. It has to be a combination.

JM: Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss said if the Lakers didn’t make it to the Western Conference finals by 2017, he would step down. It’s unlikely the Lakers will meet that goal. Why not go back and run your old team?

PJ: They’re moving forward in the right direction. Luke (Walton) has them engaged, Brian (Shaw) is an associate head coach; they have a core group of guys that will get it done. It was never important to me to go back and be a part of that. Especially not now. I have this job, this commitment.

Jeanie Buss has denied plans to brings Jackson to the Lakers. Rumors continued to sprout, anyway. This non-denial won’t end speculation, either – especially with the Lakers employing a pair of Jackson-approved coaches in Walton and Shaw.

And especially with the Knicks losing. Eventually something will have to give in New York.

I thought another Jackson answer was telling:

You have to be unique. You have to have something no one else is doing to have genius in this game. It becomes an ownership. I don’t care about the triangle. I care about systematically playing basketball.

Running the triangle isn’t necessarily wrong, but the question I keep coming back to: Are the Knicks emphasizing it for the right reasons? The roster doesn’t seem to fit the triangle. The coach isn’t experienced with it. Yet, Jackson continues to insist on the scheme.

Jackson is working for his legacy in New York. Winning isn’t enough. He wants to be perceived as a genius.

That’s a justifiable risk on his part if he has a soft landing waiting in Los Angeles. Even if he doesn’t, it might be the only way to feed his ego.

In the meantime, the Knicks suffer as the same questions keep surfacing.