New York Knicks, team president Phil Jackson agree to part ways
NBA.com staff reports
The Phil Jackson tenure in New York is over. The Knicks officially announced this morning that Phil Jackson, who had served in his role since 2014, has mutually agreed to part ways with the team, effective immediately:
MSG Executive Chairman Jim Dolan and Phil Jackson announced today that, after discussing the future of the New York Knicks, they have mutually agreed to part company. Mr. Jackson is leaving his post as President of Basketball Operations, effective immediately.
“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” said Mr. Dolan. “Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched. We wish him the best and thank him for his service to the Knicks as both a player and an executive.
“While we are currently evaluating how best to move forward regarding the leadership of the organization, I will not be involved in the operation of the team,” continued Mr. Dolan. “Steve Mills, the team’s general manager, will run the day-to-day business of the organization over the short term. Tim Leiweke, who brings tremendous expertise and experience in sports franchise management from both Toronto and Los Angeles and is our partner in the Oak View Group, will advise and work with Steve on an interim basis to help develop a go-forward plan.”
“The New York Knicks will always hold a special place in my heart,” Mr. Jackson said. “This team and this town launched my NBA career. I will forever be indebted to them. I am grateful to Mr. Dolan for giving me the opportunity to return here.
“I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to do that. New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best – today and always.”
When the Knicks hired Phil Jackson as their team president in mid-March three years ago, their hope was his championship pedigree and Hall of Fame career could help get the team back on track. Fast-forward to today and Jackson and the Knicks have struggled to do that, going a combined 80-166 (with zero playoff appearances) since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Combine those struggles with the roster uncertainty star forward Carmelo Anthony and young phenom Kristaps Porzingis have faced of late and the Knicks have been in a tough spot for a while. Yesterday, word surfaced that Anthony was reportedly looking into a buyout option with the Knicks so he could enter free agency early, while pre-Draft talk about the Knicks was often about how Jackson acknowledged the team was looking into possibly trading Porzingis.
Both The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne reported overnight that the Knicks were going to part ways with Jackson sometime later today.
The New York Knicks are planning to part ways with embattled President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson later this morning, league sources told The Vertical.
Owner James Dolan has been weighing Jackson’s future role running the franchise and seriously considering his dismissal despite two years and $24 million-plus left on his contract, league sources told The Vertical.
Dolan and Jackson, 71, talked about the possibility of a parting on Tuesday, league sources told The Vertical.
The future of general manager Steve Mills is unclear, but he could transition the franchise through free agency, which begins on Saturday.
Dolan has become increasingly concerned about Jackson’s fitness for the job and the long-term prospects of success for the franchise, especially in the aftermath of Jackson’s entertaining trades for Kristaps Porzingis, the franchise’s 21-year-old burgeoning star, league sources told The Vertical.
While Jackson has $24 million left on his original five-year contract, Dolan has a history of paying off long-term financial commitments without much consternation.
And here’s Shelburne’s report on the parting of ways, which should come later this morning:
The New York Knicks and team president Phil Jackson will announce that they’re parting ways early Wednesday morning, sources told ESPN.
Conversations about what was best for the team’s future between Jackson and Knicks owner James Dolan accelerated this week when the franchise decided it would not buy out embattled forward Carmelo Anthony, sources said.
Jackson, 71, had made it well known that he felt it was best for Anthony and the organization to part ways, both publicly and privately, but Anthony refused to waive his no-trade clause, and the Knicks were determined not to accommodate any request for a buyout. Anthony has two years worth over $54 million remaining on his deal.
With no end to the stalemate in sight, and free agency beginning on July 1, Jackson’s discussions with Dolan accelerated late Tuesday night and the decision was made to part ways.
Some close to Dolan had been pushing him to consider firing Jackson for much of the season, sources told ESPN’s Ian Begley.
It had become clear, sources said, that Jackson had no plans to remain beyond the two years left on the five-year contract he initially signed in 2014. So with no clear path forward from the toxic situation with Anthony, a constant public relations war over Jackson’s preferred triangle offense, and new concerns about the organization’s relationship with Latvian phenom and 2015 No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis, sources said it was clear things had reached a breaking point by the eve of free agency.
Jackson has faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks, stemming from his clash with Anthony and the revelation that Jackson was fielding offers for Porzingis as the Knicks looked to move up in this year’s draft. No deal was made, and New York selected French guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth overall selection.
Porzingis skipped exit meetings with Jackson and Mills in April because of frustration over the dysfunction and drama surrounding the Knicks.
Sources told ESPN that Jackson had been upset with Porzingis’ actions and was trying to teach him a lesson in professionalism this summer. Jackson, sources said, was contemplating a trip to Europe this summer to meet with his young star man-to-man.
Jackson publicly and privately expressed confidence in his vision for the club after this season, which included building a roster around Porzingis, Ntilikina and Juan Hernangomez while filling the roster with veterans who could fit into his system and contribute on both sides of the ball.
Asked last week on MSG Network what he’d tell Knicks fans who were ‘uneasy.’
“Well, I think, we know what we’re doing,” Jackson said. “That’s what I can say to them. Although it’s not been apparent in our record the last couple of years, we’ve grown from within. We’ve got young players who are on their move up. It takes time to rebuild with youth. And, I think, to have confidence in the fact that we’re going to have good players and we’re going to have a good team and we’re going to be on the court, competitive.”
And, according to Wojnarowski, the Knicks are reportedly eyeing Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri to replace Jackson …
Knicks owner James Dolan is targeting Toronto's Masai Ujiri to replace Phil Jackson as N.Y.'s President, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2017