The future Hall of Fame head coach decided to try his luck with a front-office job instead, agreeing on a deal to join the New York Knicks as their next team president, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
Knicks to hold press conference on Tuesday to announce Phil Jackson as their next president at Chase Square at Madison Square Garden.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) March 14, 2014
ESPN's Ian Begley reports on Jackson's potential pay:
NBA on ESPN provides more detail:
Phil Jackson formally signed a contract to be Knicks president after a lunch meeting Friday with team officials, @RamonaShelburne reports.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 14, 2014
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne adds to that:
While Buss family had an interest in bringing Jackson back to the Lakers, there was never going to be a role w/ LA w/ as much power as NYK— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) March 14, 2014
Phil Jackson has been talking to the Knicks for months. Buss family has known and discussed for months, sources said.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) March 14, 2014
Shelburne and Chris Broussard also reported that the deal would be for five years.
Jackson's arrival in New York completes something of a full circle for his NBA life. The legendary coach spent more than a decade with the Knicks as a player from 1967 to 1978 and has been constantly linked to the franchise—especially in dire times. And it's hard to call the Knicks' situation anything but dire at the moment.
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony talked about the move, according to Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
Asked Melo what the Phil move meant to him in terms of what NYK was doing as an org. "I'm a chess player. ... And that was a power move."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 15, 2014
In this video, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher and Howard Beck debate what Jackson brings to the Knicks:
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News first indicated on March 7 that Jackson and the Knicks were again talking about him rejoining the franchise and that the two sides were seemingly making progress.
That news also came on the heels of Jackson's sit-down interview with USA Today's Sam Amick, in which he cryptically indicated that a return to the NBA could be coming:
There are a few (opportunities), but I shouldn't name them. It wouldn't be right to talk about it, name anything. But yeah, there are some. There are winners and losers in the NBA, and a lot of people are trying to reclaim their position or change their culture or whatever. So yeah, there is. I've had conversations.
Much like every summer since he retired from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011, the interest in Jackson as a head coach was red hot across the league. After all, 1,155 career regular-season wins and 11 NBA championships will draw that kind of attention.
But after a three-year hiatus spent watching from the comfort of his own home and entertaining the masses via Twitter, the Zen Master was apparently overcome with the "itch" to return to his beloved game, per Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
This time around, he's ready to conquer a completely different challenge.
Good decision by Jackson?
It will be fascinating to see how Jackson adjusts to his new job. He was undoubtedly successful because of his coaching techniques, in-game strategic prowess—perhaps no one has more famously run an offense more perfectly or efficiently like Jackson with the triangle offense—and ability to get elite individuals to gel into a cohesive, machine-like unit.
No longer on the sidelines, Phil won't be able to utilize those transcendent traits.
Instead, it now becomes about evaluating talent and running an organization rather than simply leading a team.
Nevertheless, it's not like Jackson is coming in blind. He assuredly did plenty of scouting and helped make player and personnel decisions during his time in Chicago and Los Angeles. Jackson worked last summer as an unpaid adviser for the Detroit Pistons, offering advice to general manager Joe Dumars during the team's coaching search.
In his interview with Amick, Jackson was typically coy in describing his exact input. He seemed to insinuate Dumars was the driving force behind Detroit's decision to hire Maurice Cheeks over other possible candidates. Cheeks, of course, was fired less than a season into his gig as Dumars continues to scramble for his job security.
As one of the most brilliant minds in the game, Jackson should have little trouble thriving in his new role. The Knicks, who currently hold a 26-40 record as of Friday, have struggled mightily this season largely due to a lack of chemistry and focus. Jackson is no stranger to handling big personalities, though.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN comments on the tall task ahead of Jackson:
If Phil Jackson does take this Knicks job, I'd love to be a fly on the wall for his first conversation with J.R. Smith.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 11, 2014
Either way, there's something to be said for hiring a highly sought-after legend of the NBA—someone who will instantly attract the stars of the league.
In that regard, the Knicks just got unquestionably better with one front-office coup.