Knicks, Phil Jackson part ways after dismal 3-year run

Posted: Updated:

By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Phil Jackson wanted to trade Carmelo Anthony and wouldn't rule out dealing Kristaps Porzingis.

Turns out, Jackson is the one leaving.

Jackson is out as New York Knicks president after he oversaw one of the worst eras in team history, with the team saying in a statement Wednesday that they had "mutually agreed to part company."

Days after Jackson reiterated his desire to move Anthony and said he would listen to deals for Porzingis, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan reversed course and cut ties with Jackson with two years remaining on his contract.

"After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction," Dolan said. "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."

But his work as a first-time executive was awful. The winner of an NBA-record 11 championships as coach, Jackson couldn't engineer one playoff berth while running the Knicks. The team was 80-166 in his three full seasons, including a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2014-15.

His departure was quickly welcomed by Knicks fans such as film director Spike Lee, who posted a picture of himself on Instagram in a celebratory pose after it was first reported by The Vertical.

The move comes less than a week after Jackson led the Knicks through the NBA draft and on the eve of free agency that opens Saturday. Dolan said he would not be involved in the operation of the team, adding that general manager Steve Mills would run the day-to-day business in the short term and that former Toronto executive Tim Leiweke would advise him and help develop a plan going forward.

Jackson was a Hall of Fame coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, delivering titles with some of the game's biggest stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. He also played for the Knicks when they won NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.

He was welcomed back to the organization with a $60 million contract to huge fanfare in March 2014, but it soon became clear the transition would be a poor one. His first coaching hire, Derek Fisher, lasted just 1½ seasons, and Jackson's trades and free agency moves also failed to improve the club.

"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," Jackson said. "New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best - today and always."

The turbulence he created off the court may have led to his departure more than the Knicks' record on it.

Jackson publicly talked about moving without Anthony - angering the National Basketball Players Association - though the All-Star forward has two years left on the five-year, $124 million deal that Jackson gave him shortly after taking the job. Anthony has a no-trade clause and has said he wants to stay in New York, and the stalemate that hung over the team for much of last season threatened to linger throughout the summer.

Then Jackson said before the draft that he was listening to offers for Porzingis, the 21-year-old forward from Latvia whom he drafted with the No. 4 pick in 2015 in one of his few successful moves.

Jackson believed the Knicks would compete for a playoff berth last season after he traded for Derrick Rose, signed Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee and hired Jeff Hornacek to coach. But after a solid start, they quickly spiraled toward their familiar position at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and finished 31-51.

Despite all that, Dolan said during an ESPN Radio interview in February that he would allow Jackson to finish his contract, and the sides picked up the mutual two-year option on Jackson's contract.

But the instability involving Anthony and Porzingis threatened to damage the team's ability to lure free agents and may have spurred Dolan's decision. Though he had been intent on keeping Jackson, the dysfunction within the franchise showed no sign of ending even as Jackson, 71, largely stayed out of sight.

He never spoke to the media last season after vowing openness upon taking the job and refused to provide Anthony with the communication he sought.

"It's like a total train wreck," tennis great and Knicks fan John McEnroe told The Associated Press last week.

"I mean, he's known as the Zen Master, like a master talker, and then he's not talking to anybody," McEnroe said of Jackson. "So this whole thing seems to have gone completely off the rails."

There was also incessant debate about Jackson's insistence that the team employ the triangle offense, which potential incoming players were schooled on during the run-up to last week's draft. The Knicks wound up taking 18-year-old French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who spoke highly of the triangle and Jackson's belief in the scheme.

"I think I can definitely fit with this system," Ntilikina said on draft night.

Not even a week later, the triangle is probably gone, and the Knicks will start anew.

Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, will be a free agent. Noah - whom Jackson gave a puzzling four-year, $72 million contract last summer - will start the season by finishing out a 20-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first season in New York, shooting just 44 percent from the foul line.

___

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami and Associated Press Writer Terrance Harris in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • What's Cooking Photos

    What's Cooking Photos

    Chef Rob, of Uncle Giuseppe's, adds a little clarified butter, fresh herbs, some olive oil and, of course, salt and pepper, to season the steak. Add some roasted potatoes and sauteed broccoli rabe and some white wine to complete your perfect summer meal.Chef Rob, of Uncle Giuseppe's, adds a little clarified butter, fresh herbs, some olive oil and, of course, salt and pepper, to season the steak. Add some roasted potatoes and sauteed broccoli rabe and some white wine to complete your perfect summer meal.
    Chef Rob, of Uncle Giuseppe's, adds a little clarified butter, fresh herbs, some olive oil and, of course, salt and pepper, to season the steak. Add some roasted potatoes and sauteed broccoli rabe and some white wine to complete your perfect summer meal.Chef Rob, of Uncle Giuseppe's, adds a little clarified butter, fresh herbs, some olive oil and, of course, salt and pepper, to season the steak. Add some roasted potatoes and sauteed broccoli rabe and some white wine to complete your perfect summer meal.

    Each week, News 12's Lily Stolzberg heads into the kitchen with a different chef to cook up some delicious meals.

    Each week, News 12's Lily Stolzberg heads into the kitchen with a different chef to cook up some delicious meals.

  • Dog Day Fridays for July 20

    Dog Day Fridays for July 20

    Friday, July 20 2018 7:45 AM EDT2018-07-20 11:45:59 GMT
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue.This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue.

    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Island Park. Their phone number is (516) 960-6388.

    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Island Park. Their phone number is (516) 960-6388.

  • Guide: Where to find food trucks on Long Island

    Guide: Where to find food trucks on Long Island

    Rolling Smoke can be found across Long Island.Rolling Smoke can be found across Long Island.
    Rolling Smoke can be found across Long Island.Rolling Smoke can be found across Long Island.

    Craving something savory or sweet? It doesn't really matter when it comes to food trucks, where you can have it all -- you just have to know where to find them! Here is a list of food trucks and where you could find them on Long Island. 

    Craving something savory or sweet? It doesn't really matter when it comes to food trucks, where you can have it all -- you just have to know where to find them! Here is a list of food trucks and where you could find them on Long Island. 

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."