After a 95-92 win over the Toronto Raptors in the Knicks' season finale, Jackson addressed his team and gave a small indication of his thoughts for its future. He lauded the work done by coach Mike Woodson and his players, but he also told the group to brace for some changes.
"He credited Woody," a Knicks player told ESPN New York's Ian Begley. "But he also said that there’s going to be changes, some of us won’t be in this room next year.”
This doesn't sound like a matter of if people will be heading out, but rather how many will have to pack their bags.
Woodson's coaching seat has burned hot all season, and Jackson's arrival only fanned those flames.
Many assume the Zen Master would like to hand the coaching reins over to someone experienced with the triangle offense that Jackson employed in his coaching days. Steve Kerr, who won three titles under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls, has been an oft-mentioned possibility. The former player and executive-turned-broadcaster reportedly "absolutely expects" an offer from Jackson, a source told George Willis of the New York Post, and would "definitely" accept it if it comes.
Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Chris Broussard that Woodson is "bracing for the worst." The coach has informed the franchise that he has no desire to meet Jackson face-to-face if the executive plans to let him go, a source told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
Judging by the anonymous player's comments, it would seem Jackson has more up his sleeve than just a coaching change. Figuring out other moves he could make, though, isn't easy.
Assuming Carmelo Anthony opts out of the final year of his contract, Jackson could move on without the face of the franchise. However, that wouldn't get the Knicks under the salary cap. Plus, Jackson is already on record saying that "Carmelo is in the future plans," via Fred Kerber of the New York Post.
Jackson's options on the trade market figure to be limited, if not nonexistent. No one wants a piece of the massive contracts Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Tyson Chandler ($14.5 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million) hold for next season. With New York's financial constraints, it can't afford to move someone on a rookie deal like Iman Shumpert ($2.6 million) or Tim Hardaway, Jr. ($1.2 million).
Of course, this is the mighty Phil Jackson we're talking about. If the Zen Master says he has a plan, those 13 championship rings make it hard to question him.
It isn't always easy to see the same image as a visionary. If Jackson says he can sweep without a broom, Knicks Nation should expect a spotless floor. That's why he gets the big bucks, after all.
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