While the iconic images of the past surrounded his introductory press conference on Tuesday morning, the focus for the new Knicks president is clearly on the future for the franchise.
Phil Jackson took center stage in front of the large media contingency and outlined his initial thoughts on Carmelo Anthony, the approach to winning basketball, and a brief synopsis of the plan moving forward. This message is of paramount importance to the Knicks fan base itching for its first title since the last time Jackson was involved in the organization -- 1973 to be exact.
To start, Jackson provided an overview of the structure he desires, “They [players] should have the security of knowing they are going to be supported by the organization and coaching staff. It’s a very tenuous world as it is as a player, so putting yourself on the line; you need to have that support. This is something we want to build for them. We want to build also some things that are very important to basketball players, developing a health record in which injuries are limited. Developing a mindset in which focus is a capability. Developing a system where balls are moved, passes are made, people make cuts to create open opportunities for teammates.”
Jackson was asked about seven-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks leading scorer is set to enter free agency this summer. Anthony has enjoyed a fantastic season, averaging 28 points and 8.3 rebounds per game following a scoring title in 2012-13.
“There’s no doubt about Carmelo being one of the top scorers in the league, maybe the best-individual isolation players in the game,” Jackson lauded Anthony’s talent. “I have no problems committing to saying Carmelo is in the future plans. I think there are a number of things I see Carmelo doing as he moves forward and I said I think I was on record a year ago that I think Carmelo, as great as a player as he is, still has another level to go to and I hope together with the team we create, we can get there.”
Anthony is a gifted offensive player but what type of offense will the Knicks run under Jackson’s direction as president?
“I would educate anybody who wants to know the nuances of the triangle,” Jackson replied during Tuesday’s press conference. “You know, I coached it for 20 years and it’s one of the things people do come to me and talk to me about.”
As head coach, Jackson led the Bulls and Lakers to a combined 11 titles by running the triangle offense, which forces the offensive players to read the defense before triggering numerous offensive options.
“It’s a simple offense but its still pretty logical and pretty practical in many ways,” Jackson further explained. “It’s not an insistence but I do like to have a system, I like a method of playing basketball. I think there is a logical method of playing basketball in which there are a number of principles.”
Aside from Anthony, the future of the Knicks offense, and coaching staff, Jackson will face decisions in future NBA Drafts, 2014 free agency, and a cavalcade of All-Stars available in 2015 when New York is expected to have cap space flexibility.
“Steve [Mills] and I are going to work on how to manage the roster and our financials so that we can have an impact in that area. I think that we know we need another solid contributor, someone that can score to help Carmelo go along with contributing to this team and a winning experience, so we’re looking forward. But, we are not losing sight of the fact that we are in a game-to-game basis in this business that we want to provide a team that’s talented, a team that people want to come watch, and a team that is truly competitive,” Jackson elaborated.
Jackson’s vision for a championship contending team will not be formulated over night. However, his candid comments on Tuesday allow fans to see a part of the blueprint for the future of the Knicks franchise.