The New York Knicks announced Wednesday they are parting ways with coaching legend Phil Jackson after three years as team president.
Jackson was hired in March 2014 to revitalize the troubled franchise. The decision to fire him comes two months after the Knicks announced they had picked up a contract option for Jackson that would have allowed him to remain team president for another two years.
“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” said Knicks owner James Dolan in a statement. “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.”
“The New York Knicks will always hold a special place in my heart,” 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.”
People close to Dolan were advising the owner to jettison the 11-time championship winning coach during the 2016-2017 season, according to ESPN writer Ian Begley. Sources also said Jackson had no plans to re-sign with the team once his contract expired.
Throughout Jackson’s three year tenure as Knicks president, players and the media put him under constant fire for his decisions on player acquisitions, relentlessness to stick with the “triangle offense” as well as his treatment of Carmelo Anthony.
Jackson signed Anthony to a contract extension in 2014 for five years and $124 million. The contract included a no-trade clause which would require Anthony’s approval for any trade proposal. Since the extension, the Knicks have not won more than 32 games and Anthony has repeatedly found himself on the trading block.
Jackson was constantly hounded regarding trade rumors because of his comments about Anthony. He said publicly that “we need players that are really active” and Anthony is a player that would “be better off somewhere else.”
Most recently media ridiculed Jackson for fielding trade offers for former fourth overall pick Kristaps Porzingis. ESPN’s “First Take” co-host Stephen A. Smith said Jackson is showing us all “why he needs to get the hell out of New York quick, fast and in a hurry.”
“It doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever,” Smith added. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Phil is trying to get fired. If he gets fired, he gets to walk out the door and keep his money. If he quits, he doesn’t get to keep his money.”
Jackson was known for his 11 NBA championship rings he won as head coach for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. In the three years he spent as Knicks President, the team had a record of 80-166 with zero playoff appearances.
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