CAA has controlled many of the Knicks’ decisions in recent years, but things appear primed to change under Jackson’s watch.
Per Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
Phil, on the team's CAA ties: "Those won't hold weight with me."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) April 3, 2014
If Jackson can assert some front-office autonomy as Knicks president, he’ll have a far better chance of sorting out the mess in Madison Square Garden. For years, the powerful agency has had a say in New York’s power structure, and the series of bad trades, curious management moves and on-court disappointments can all be traced back to CAA’s influence.
At times it's seemed like the goal of the team was to put their star client, Anthony, in the best possible position over the needs of the team. It's also just a bad way to go about business, with secret cabals in charge of decision making.
No wonder, then, that the Zen Master needed a key assurance before signing on with New York:
Asked Jackson specifically abt the CAA question. Said he had an agreement w Dolan that he'd be able to squash agency ties if necessary.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) April 3, 2014
It’ll be no small achievement if Jackson really can shape the franchise independent of CAA’s influence. The super agency’s tentacles extend throughout the organization’s management structure. Assistant GM Allan Houston, head coach Mike Woodson and player personnel director Mark Warkentien are all clients—as is Carmelo Anthony.
And per Chris Broussard of ESPN, an anonymous Knicks player said preferential treatment for CAA clients is an issue on the roster itself: "You see how guys from CAA are treated differently. How they get away with saying certain things to coaches. How coaches talk to them differently than they talk to the other guys. It's a problem."
Jackson had success on the bench when his voice, and his voice alone, was the controlling influence on the team. He’ll have an uphill battle against a powerful foe as he tries to assert that voice in the executive suite.
Shouting down the suits and using his vast experience to make actual basketball decisions will be critical as Jackson works to rebuild the Knicks into a respectable, functional organization.
It won’t be easy, but it seems Jackson is up for the challenge.