Phil Jackson was finally let go by the New York Knicks after a full year of seemingly actively attempting to get fired. Jackson tried to run Carmelo Anthony out of town by publicly questioning his abilities and antagonizing him into waiving his no-trade clause, which, in hindsight, wasn’t the best way to build his trade value.
Jackson then threatened to trade Kristaps Porzingis just before the draft and was allegedly pushing for a buyout of Anthony against the desires of James Dolan, which eventually led to his firing. Jackson’s efforts to move the Knicks’ two best players may have been the final straw, but Jackson made plenty of mistakes over his tenure as team president, including giving Anthony the no-trade clause that would come to haunt him.
Among the most egregious mistakes made by Jackson was giving Joakim Noah a 4-year, $72.5 million contract last summer. The 32-year-old big man has had injury issues in the past, and many were confused at both the annual salary and the length of the deal he was given. Noah will start the 2017-18 season finishing out a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy for taking a banned substance but will be eligible to return after the Knicks first 10 games.
Noah, unsurprisingly, is one of the few who still has Phil Jackson’s back in New York, and he recently explained why he thinks Jackson is getting unfairly blamed for the Knicks’ failures during an appearance on the “Truth Barrel” podcast, as transcribed by the New York Post‘s Marc Berman.
“It’s tough, man, because I got a lot of love and respect for Phil,’’ Noah said. “He gave me an opportunity to play back home. Somebody I read all his books as a kid. I was just a big fan and still am. I have a lot of respect for him. It didn’t work out. That sucks. It’s something I have to live with. He believed in me, and I kind of let him down. That’s frustrating. He got a lot of blame that it was his fault. But we didn’t lose all those games because of Phil Jackson.’’
If there were anyone in New York indebted to Jackson, it’s Noah, who got a massive deal thanks to Jackson. However, deals like his and Jackson’s unwillingness to move away from signing veterans and accept the necessity of a rebuild led to the Knicks’ current predicament. No, Jackson didn’t play in the games, and the players, including Noah, could have performed better, but as the team president who had control over roster construction, he should rightfully receive significant blame for their problems.
That’s not to say others didn’t play a role and the Knicks problems are solved with Jackson gone, but it was made pretty clear over his tenure in New York that Jackson simply wasn’t a good fit as the team’s president.