Knicks Confirm Phil Jackson Signing, LeBron Confidant Says “He will Look At It”

03.15.14 4 years ago
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson

LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports & Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Our long New York nightmare is over, and no we’re not talking about the Knicks’ season — they won their sixth straight game this afternoon against the visiting Bucks. I’m talking, of course, about all the rumors surrounding the Phil Jackson hire. It’s now official, after Jackson had a lunch meeting Friday with Knicks officials and signed to become president of basketball operations. But the salary amounts being tossed around and the ownership stake are all wrong, as you’ll see. Still, despite zero experience in the front office, Jackson’s hiring has already reverberated around the league, and now a reported LeBron James “confidant” says ‘Bron now will at least look at the Knicks as a possible destination were he to opt out of his contract this summer. Whoa boy, James Dolan guitar riff time.

While some had intimated Jackson would sign for $15 million a year and an ownership stake, he’s signing a five-year deal worth $12 million annually to be the president of basketball operations, and he’ll have no ownership stake. He’ll be taking over the role of GM Steve Mills, who will remain with the organization,despite some contrary reports claiming Mills would be let go in the event Jackson was brought in.

Via Chris Broussard and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Todd Musburger, Jackson’s Chicago-based agent, was in Los Angeles to finalize the contract with Jackson and Knicks officials, according to sources. Jackson’s deal is for five years and is expected to pay him $12 million annually but does not include an ownership stake, sources said.

The Knicks released a statement earlier Friday saying a “major announcement” would be made Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.


Jackson will take over the running of the Knicks’ basketball operations department from president and general manager Steve Mills. A source said earlier this week that Mills will remain an integral part of the organization.

Now comes the juicy stuff: once Jackson’s signing broke yesterday, there was some interesting run-off, most notably the Heat, who could be losing the Big Three this summer, all of whom have player options.

By way of PBT, comes this intriguing quote from a James confidant to New York Daily News‘ resident Knicks beat writer Frank Isola:

But Dolan and Jackson can dream big. Heat executives, according to a source, are not convinced that James will stay, though in their heart of hearts they believe he will re-sign. But Jackson’s arrival changes things.

“There’s no way LeBron would have gone to New York under the current climate,” said a James confidant. “He had a falling-out with CAA (agency) and that was a problem as well. But with Phil there I think he will look at it.”


“Phil can help the Knicks because he gives them a face and credibility. But these big free agents are only going to a place where they feel they can win. Phil has to build something first.”

The big free agents possibly available this summer might look at Phil Jackson as the sensei they need to win a ring. He’s got 13 of them, 11 as a coach and two as a player with the Knicks in the 70’s. But the Last quote from a current GM (possibly pissed that Phil has joined his ranks) speaks volumes.

If Jackson doesn’t offer a cushy, talented team for LeBron — or anyone else — to play for, then it’s no dice. Part of the reason LeBron and Chris Bosh elected to sign in Miami during the summer of 2010 was for a chance to win a title. If Bosh doesn’t agree, or Dwyane Wade doesn’t re-sign or ‘Bron dithers, then it’s likely the Big Three era in Miami never happens. Collectively, they all had to agreed, and the presence of Pat Riley likely helped facilitate the moves south more than we’ll ever know. Whether that’s collusion or not is open to interpretation and probably not something anyone could even prove (we’re sure Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has tried).

The current iteration of the Knicks might be playing really well over the last two weeks, but they likely lack the personnel to get LeBron truly interested in opting out to sign with New York this summer. Then there are the cap considerations, which are tethered to Carmelo’s own free agency decision and a myriad of if’s and but’s that are too complicated and dense to get into at any length here; although, the Knicks have MSG Network money, which is close to Mikhail Prokohorov money, so basically limitless — luxury taxes be damned. Just know that it would be really hard to give ‘Melo his max extension for five years and sign LeBron without one of them taking a significant cut in pay.

Regardless, this is the first — but certainly not the last — time Jackson’s hiring will directly affect the free agency market this summer.

Does the Jackson hiring mean the Knicks are now a lot bigger players in free agency this summer?

(ESPN; New York Daily News; H/T PBT)

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