Phil Jackson Was Already Concerned About Carmelo Anthony & Amar'e Stoudemire

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Phil Jackson Was Already Concerned About Carmelo Anthony & Amar'e Stoudemire
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Phil Jackson does know exactly what kind of mess he's getting into with the New York Knicks.

He described the stench of this franchise so comprehensively during a 2012 interview on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, you would swear the Zen Master had doused himself in James Dolan's cologne.

He told HBO's Andrea Kremer he had no interest in joining the Knicks then because "there's just too much work that has to be done with that team," (h/t Bob's Blitz). He described the roster as "clumsy" and singled out high-priced players Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire as two pieces that didn't "fit together well."

Jackson is now apparently ready to throw himself in the center of that "clumsy" mess.

ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard reported Friday that the 11-time champion coach finalized a five-year contract worth $12 million annually to become the team's new president. Sources told Scott Cacciola of The New York Times that Jackson will be officially introduced on Tuesday.

What a difference two years can make. Well, that and a cool $60 million.

Maybe this isn't about the money. Maybe Jackson is just a big fan of Andrea Bargnani. Maybe he sees something in Raymond Felton the rest of us can't.

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

OK, maybe this is about the money.

Or a longing to lift his old franchise back to basketball bliss. Or a sadistic desire to return to the NBA in the most painful way possible.

Regardless of the motivation, he's unofficially officially back. And he's inherited those same "clumsy" pieces he slighted just two years ago.

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

He has to be headed for an awkward entrance, no? Actually, no, he doesn't. At least, not according to Anthony.

"I really don't know what to say or how to respond to those comments," Anthony said when asked about Jackson's criticisms after practice Friday, via Al Iannazzone of Newsday. "In the past, I've heard Phil said some things about me. But I don't take it personal. I don't take it no way. At that point, he was just another guy who had an opinion."

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Of course, Jackson isn't just another guy. Anthony knows this.

"At the end of the day, it's Phil Jackson, man," he said, via Iannazzone.

It is Jackson, but unlike we've ever seen him before.

A coaching guru, he's now tasked with putting out the worst tire fire in the league from a front-office seat he's never held before. As he's extinguishing those flames, he'll also need to build something with a championship ceiling—without draft help, financial flexibility or, possibly, Anthony himself.

Maybe starting from scratch isn't such a bad idea, though. Not if the situation is as truly grim as Jackson saw it just two years ago.

 

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