With a brief glance at this past season and a focused approach to the future, Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon. Jackson addressed several pressing issues as the head man searches for a new head coach and prepares for an expected summer of change for the Orange and Blue. Let’s take a look at the latest news and notes from MSG Training Center.
The Coaching Search
On Monday, Jackson announced the dismissal of Mike Woodson and the entire Knicks coaching staff. Now, the search is on for the next man to grace the sidelines for this New York squad. Jackson outlined the specific qualities he’s seeking for the new head coach.
“We’re looking for a leader, someone that can bring out the best in players, someone that has a capability of encouraging a staff to meet the needs that players have, so that they philosophically join-in and buy-in to what we’re doing,” Jackson explained.
Media reports have linked former Bulls guard Steve Kerr to the Knicks head coaching gig. Kerr experienced a great deal of success under Jackson’s tutelage in Chicago during the 90s. Jackson said he talked to Kerr more than a year ago when the Sacramento Kings were possibly going to relocate to Seattle. Both NBA champions had a conversation over breakfast in January about styles of coaching, mainly with Kerr picking the brain of the most successful head coach in NBA history.
“I know philosophically we have a strong connection,” Jackson divulged. “Whether he is able to take a job like this, I don’t know. I will get into a conversation with him later on this month and talk to him about it and see where he’s at as far as his desire to coach.”
Due to Jackson’s legendary status as a head coach, there is always going to be a belief that he will return to that post with the Knicks. On Wednesday, Jackson made it quite clear he has no plans to become New York’s coach, pointing to health as a main reason.
“No, I’ve made up my mind on that, pretty willful in that regard. Right now, I know physically what I can do – that’s something I don’t think physically I can do,” Jackson admitted.
While New York’s president did not declare a specific timeline, he would like to hire the new head coach prior to Summer League in Las Vegas, which takes place in mid July.
Building the Front Office
Jackson confirmed that Clarence Gaines Jr. has been working with the team for the past two weeks. Gaines Jr. spent time with Jackson in Chicago and is the son of legendary Winston-Salem State University coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines Sr.
Jackson shared his philosophy on the staff he will assemble in the near future, “I like to know that the people that are here want to buy in and they want to be part of it and they want to throw their entire being into what we’re trying to do, that’s important without a doubt. That they have a brand or stamp on them that puts them as Phil Jackson’s guy or whatever, that’s not important.”
Jackson added, “It’s important that we join forces and join minds together and work together, that’s a big thing.
Melo & Exit Interviews With Knicks
Exit interviews took place late last week and Jackson had some time to sit down with the players. He relayed some of the comments form the meetings that included but were not limited to players not on the same page, not buying in to the system like the previous season, and how they can get better next year.
Carmelo Anthony told reporters last week he intends on opting out of his contract and will become a free agent. Jackson said the exit meeting “went well” with Anthony and there will be more discussions over the summer.
“I’m all about moving forward, just deal with what is and move forward. If it’s in the cards, man are we fortunate. If it’s not in the cards, man are we fortunate it, we’re going forward anyway,“ Jackson stated.