New York Knicks
|3 years ago||'04 #10748|
$40,711 | 2231
LOS ANGELES — Phil Jackson stepped onto the court for the time as Knicks president during Tuesday morning shootaround at Staples Center and appeared to meet with Carmelo Anthony in the locker room beforehand.
Jackson and Anthony were the two notable figures who remained in the locker room while the rest of the Knicks and coaching staff took the court.
Through a Knicks official, Jackson declined to talk to media who waited for him by the team bus. He never appeared.
The Knicks say Jackson, who lives in nearby Playa Del Rey, will not travel with the team on the rest of its five-game road trip. Sources say Jackson is not expected to attend Tuesday night’s game against the Lakers, fearful of the media/fan circus. Coach Mike Woodson said he didn’t know whether Jackson would show for the game.
Anthony said he’s more focused on this West Coast swing than on Jackson, calling it “make or break.” He referred to the Lakers contest as the most important game on the trip. Jackson has not spoken to the press in the week since his introductory press conference at the Garden, and he had been away from the team since last Wednesday’s game against the Pacers.
|3 years ago||'04 #10749|
$40,711 | 2231
LOS ANGELES -- It began with an introduction, not an agenda. Phil Jackson was looking for a job befitting a man of his stature. New York Knicks owner James Dolan was in the market for a basketball man to help give his team direction and credibility. Music mogul Irving Azoff was a friend of both and just happened to be throwing a holiday party at his house in Los Angeles.
Who knew if they'd find some common ground to make small talk about, much less want to work with each other?
But Jackson has always been open to new possibilities that might stir a creative fire. And Dolan had been through enough with the Knicks over the years to recognize, and ultimately accept, that his mind was best suited for business, not basketball. So they both approached the relationship with cautious optimism. Cautious, because both had been down this road before and knew it didn't always end well. Optimistic, because, man, what if this was a match? What if Jackson could reinvent himself as an executive in New York, the place where his NBA career began in the late 1960s? What if Dolan finally bet on the right guy?
Yes, for Jackson, the job was 3,000 miles away from his fiancée, Lakers president Jeanie Buss. Of course it would've been nice to live and work alongside her and most of his children and grandchildren in Los Angeles. But sometimes arranged marriages are more functional than those who wed for love. Blood is thick, but it's also messy.
Even when it's over, even when the Lakers and their fans see Jackson's Knicks at Staples Center Tuesday night, it will still feel like things could have and should have gone differently.
To understand why it didn't, why Jackson has signed on to try to save the Knicks and not the Lakers, you first have to understand what Azoff seemed to immediately grasp about Jackson, but he, himself, never could.
For all the self-reflection Jackson has done in his 68 years, there was one image he was never going to be able to see clearly. His own. The way he's seen by others, that is. Not what stares back at him in the mirror, or what's inside his heart and head. On some level, Jackson understands that he is an intimidating man. His 6-foot-8 frame casts a towering shadow. His 11 NBA titles, Hall of Fame résumé and status as the coach who got the best out of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant walk into any room five minutes before he does.
It's more than that, though.
The job he wanted for himself, the role he envisioned for the autumn of his basketball life -- as a team president with final say over basketball decisions and the authority to create and shape the culture of a franchise -- is a large one.
Pat Riley holds a role like that in Miami. So does Larry Bird in Indiana. Jackson certainly has the credentials for a role like that, too. But it's a big ask of any owner. That kind of power is why an owner spends hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a professional sports franchise. So he can have the power. It is inherently threatening when an employee has even a little bit of it. It is kind of terrifying when that employee is a legend like Phil Jackson.
Azoff understood that instantly. He is a legendary dealmaker in Hollywood. While he made his name as a manager of bands such as the Eagles, he has long since crossed over into movies, real estate and business. Azoff and Dolan met through the Knicks owner's band, JD and The Straight Shot, but have recently partnered on several megadeals, including the rejuvenation of the Lakers' ancestral home, the Forum in Inglewood. He is also a longtime Lakers season-ticket holder, who sits along the baseline, next to Dyan Cannon, within earshot of the Lakers bench. He has known Jackson and Jeanie Buss for many years through his a.ssociation with the team.
For a marriage between Jackson and Dolan to work, Azoff knew it could never feel as if either of them was asking for anything. They each had to realize on their own it was in both of their best interests.
"Deals are deals, but they don't work unless relationships do," Azoff said. "The reason it took so long is I think all the parties wanted to make sure that there was a real relationship and bond before they entered into the marriage."
And so over the course of the next few months there were at least three face-to-face meetings involving Jackson, Dolan, Knicks general manager Steve Mills, Azoff, Jackson's agents, Todd and Brian Musburger, and several other key figures on both sides. They talked philosophies and beliefs. They talked contracts and decision-making processes. Who would have the final say over basketball decisions? Who would deal with agents and general managers? How would they recruit free agents? How would they scout? It was like signing a prenup. But the process was absolutely necessary.
And when Jackson finally signed on, both sides felt like they won.
"I always find that in every deal," Azoff said. "Both parties have to win."
It seems so simple, right? Like if the Buss family and Jackson could have gotten together for a holiday party -- or a boys weekend like Jackson and Dolan had at Azoff's residence in Palm Desert earlier this year as they were building their relationship -- history may have unfolded differently. Jackson might be scouting the Lakers' next lottery pick and readying a free-agent pitch for Carmelo Anthony instead of trying to persuade him to stay in New York. But asking to play that role for the Lakers and the Knicks is a very different thing, and Jackson never seemed to realize how threatening his mere presence -- both as a Lakers legend, and the fiancée of the person who'd been given final say over the organization -- was to the Buss family. Or if he did, he never did much to allay those fears.
If anything he continued to stoke them with occasional public swipes at vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, and in interviews that made clear he would have handled things with Dwight Howard very differently.
Then there were the angry statements Jackson and his representatives made at the undignified way the Lakers spurned him as a coaching candidate in 2012. Even if you believe Jackson was justified in saying any or all of those things, it is still a bold thing for someone trying to establish trust with an ownership group to do. But instead of meeting to hash out their issues, there was very little communication between Jackson and any of the members of the Buss family besides his fiancée. What did he ultimately want? Was there a way for him to run basketball alongside Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, the way he will with Dolan and Mills in New York? Would he even consider it?
Instead of discussing those issues, Jackson remained a threat, rather than an option.
On an even more fundamental level, though, Jackson never stood a chance. He isn't blood and Jerry Buss had been clear that he intended for the franchise to be owned and operated, in perpetuity, by his six children. In addition to Jeanie and Jim, eldest brother Johnny Buss is executive vice president of strategic development for the Lakers, sister Janie Buss Drexel manages the Lakers charities, younger brother Joey runs the D-Fenders and Jesse is one of the Lakers' top scouts.
Jerry Buss had personally groomed each of his kids for their roles within the organization before his death in February 2013. He entrusted Jeanie, a natural consensus-builder with a business degree from USC, with carrying out that vision. If he'd wanted Lakers legends and a trusted hand such as Phil Jackson or Magic Johnson or Jerry West to a.ssume a leadership role, he would have said so. But on this point, Jerry Buss had been clear, and it was anathema to the Buss kids to go against his last will and testament so soon after his passing.
On a matter as important as this, just a year after his death, there was no way Jeanie Buss would've made a unilateral decision without the support of her siblings. And not only did she not have support to bring Jackson into a prominent role with the Lakers, it really wasn't that close when the subject was brought up in family meetings. At best, the family was split.
While there was talk and support for bringing back Jackson in a more informal role, it never went beyond family meetings or reached Jackson's representatives.
"There is no role in the front office for him for what he could contribute," Jeanie said in an interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet last week. "Maybe I could have him sell sponsorships or work security but I don't think that would be something that would give Phil the kind of challenge that he's looking for, that would fulfill him."
They say you never really know a family until you marry into it. You can have a sense of what matters to them and the values they hold on to. You can guess at their dysfunctions. But from the outside, you're really just guessing. Sit at the Thanksgiving table or around the Christmas tree. Go to a family birthday party. Then you'll know.
Over the past 15 years, Jackson has worked for the Buss family, won NBA championships for the Buss family and darn near married into the Buss family. But when the time came to create a relationship and a bond with the six surviving children of Jerry Buss who now own and operate the Los Angeles Lakers that made them all comfortable ceding enormous power over the franchise to him, he simply couldn't do it.
The most successful coach of all time, one of the greatest leaders of men the sports world has ever seen, a coach who prided himself on building a culture of selflessness and community in his locker rooms, simply didn't know where or how to even begin establishing a level of trust with the owners of the franchise he was hoping to help run.
Perhaps it's because he had a family of his own that he and Jeanie Buss had taken to spending their holidays with. Perhaps it's because being part of a family business, where the brothers and sisters socialize in the office every day, but maybe not away from it, is different from marrying into a family.
Both times Jackson had joined the Lakers in the past, an emissary had helped to broker the deal. The first time around in 1999, Jerry and Jim Buss had commanded then-general manager Jerry West to bring him in to coach the team. West had wanted to consider more options before hiring Jackson, but in a meeting on the San Clemente Pier, the Busses told him Jackson was the man they wanted, so West went out and got him.
In 2005, when he returned to the Lakers after a breakup the season before, Jeanie Buss helped facilitate the conversations between Jackson and her father and brother that needed to happen.
Those conversations never happened this time. Perhaps too much had been said already.
Phil Jackson left off his basketball life in 2011 with more questions than answers. With a couple of guiding principles, a childhood musing about chasing adventures around the world like Robinson Crusoe, and a mind he'd trained to embrace the possibilities of uncertainty, rather than quiver in its existential angst. He planned to get healthy and spend time with his family. He planned to write and travel. He swore he'd try many things outside of his comfort zone, just to see what happened.
But mostly he looked inward. For a purpose or a calling. To understand himself and his place in the world. To find something that mattered and was worth doing.
The first year of his retirement, he spent with his family and focusing on his health. The second year, he wrote a book, "11 Rings," with longtime friend and author Hugh Delehanty. It brought back a passion for the community and connection Jackson was so brilliant at creating on his teams. It forced him to analyze and articulate how he did it.
Still, Jackson was torn. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine last spring he seemed to have accepted that the game was in his blood, and he would likely return to it someday.
"Can you think of anything else for me to do?" Jackson asked, to which the author said he could not. "It's a shame, isn't it?" Jackson said. "I thought maybe you thought I could be the president. Something really important."
Although it reads and feels like an acceptance, it was not a resignation. Basketball has always been his love. Jackson just needed to get to a place where he didn't equate returning to the game with a failure to find a new passion. He needed to want to do it again, and do it in the all-encompassing, mind-melding way he's always done it. Then he needed to find a situation that challenged him and gave him what he needed to succeed.
You wonder if that's part of the reason he never called to rebuild things with the Buss family. If he just needed time to work through his own feelings about returning to the NBA. Jackson was always going to have to be nudged back into the game. Restless souls need to be claimed and feel wanted. It took a master dealmaker to bring Jackson and the Knicks to that place.
Hard as it still is for some to accept, it is probably for the best. Marriage shouldn't be that hard.
|3 years ago||'04 #10751|
$40,711 | 2231
LOS ANGELES — With 8 minutes 54 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Phil Jackson had seen enough. He texted his fiancée, Jeanie Buss, and agreed to meet at the loading dock inside Staples Center where their car would be waiting. The Knicks were losing by 26 points.
“It was awful, huh,” Jackson, the new Knicks president, said with a slight grin as he exited a luxury suite in the corner of the arena and took an elevator down to the floor level.
In a season full of dispiriting losses, this may have been a new low. Clinging to faint playoff hopes, the Knicks were routed Tuesday, 127-96, by the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the worst teams in the league. They fell four games behind Atlanta in the loss column for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth with less than three weeks left in the season.
The low point was the third quarter, when the Knicks allowed the Lakers to put up 51 points, a franchise-record set not by Kobe Bryant, Jerry West or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but by Xavier Henry, Kent Bazemore and Nick Young.
“Fifty-one points,” Jackson, in a dark blue suit and a striped tie, said as he arched his eyebrows. “When it’s 35 points you start to get worried. When it’s a 51-point quarter, that’s really awful.”
If the Knicks are trying to make an impression on their new boss, they did not equivocate. It will most likely be the last time he will see them play in person until they return home from the five-game swing west that began Tuesday. Jackson said he had not yet begun to inquire about coaches, scouts or other front office staff he might want to bring in. He is in a.ssessment mode.
“We’re in a talent hunt,” Jackson said. “We have to bring in talent.”
The specter of Jackson floated through Staples Center throughout the day, hanging in the air like the five championship banners he helped the Lakers to as a coach. He still has a large presence in this city and while his courtship with the Knicks played out, there were many Lakers fans who hoped it would prompt the team to bring him back in.
But when Jackson watched a 45-minute workout Tuesday morning from the stands with General Manager Steve Mills at his side, he was in Knicks warm-up gear. As the Knicks arrived by bus, Jackson was sequestered in the visitors’ locker room. Carmelo Anthony, who would score a game-high 29 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. were among the few players who saw him there. Most were out on the court.
If there was any discussion, it appeared to be small talk.
“He just sat back and observed,” said guard Shannon Brown, who played for Jackson on two championship teams in Los Angeles. “He told us he would check us out tonight, but it wasn’t like last week in New York, when he talked with everybody.”
When the workout was over, Jackson took an alternate exit from the team to the arena’s loading dock, bypassing reporters and leaving in the same Mercedes sport utility vehicle in which he had arrived.
As discreet as Jackson was, his presence permeated throughout the day. It infiltrated questions that were tossed at Knicks Coach Mike Woodson and Anthony before the shootaround. It wove its way into the fabric of Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni’s pregame news conference.
Most tangibly, it loomed when the game began, one woebegone franchise hosting another, only one of which might be rescued by Jackson, who watched from a suite while Buss, the Lakers president, watched from her customary floor seat across from the Lakers’ bench.
Jackson acknowledged that it was odd to be back in this arena with the Knicks. “It’s a flip-flop, isn’t it?” he said. He said several fans had stopped him and asked for an autograph or to take photographs with him, which he said he appreciated but often declined.
The whole evening had a strange feel to it, from the presence of Jackson, to Anthony missing his first seven shots, to the appearance of the recently released Knicks forward Metta World Peace — a cult figure amongst Lakers fans and a symbol of this season’s unmet expectations in New York — who conducted a radio interview from a courtside seat.
Later, World Peace joined Jackson in his suite, offering his a.ssessment of the Knicks.
“He was very supportive of his former team, the Knicks,” Jackson said. “He thought there were some good players on the team.”
Down on the court, they were not in plain view. The defense was woeful. The offense was stagnant. And the effort flagged. The optimism that was built on the legs of an eight-game winning streak had vanished.
In Jackson’s eyes, it was gone before the Knicks arrived here, lost when they collapsed in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
“This is just residual depression from losing a game that they were up by 17 points on Sunday,” Jackson said. “It kind of took their hopes away from being in the playoffs.”
In the locker room, the Knicks were in the familiar position of explaining the incomprehensible. Woodson said that “all hell broke loose.” Anthony said the Knicks did not compete. And Tyson Chandler said it was too late for a team meeting.
The man charged with cleaning up the mess did not have any answers, either. But he has only been on the job for a week.
When Jackson exited the elevator, he stopped to use the bathroom. Then he made his way down familiar corridors, through a door and to his car. An attendant held the driver’s door open for Jackson. Buss was in the passenger seat.
What did he have planned for the rest of the night?
“I think I’ll walk the dog,” he said.
|3 years ago||'04 #10754|
$40,711 | 2231
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It was equivalent to a job interview. Metta World Peace, who lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., ran up to Phil Jackson’s Staples Center suite during halftime from his courtside seat for a chat Tuesday night during the Knicks’ 127-96 blowout loss to the Lakers.
World Peace is more than a month removed from a Knicks buyout — one he wouldn’t have asked for had he known the Zen Master was waiting in the wings as team president.
World Peace has told confidants he yearns for a second chance as a Knick after his first stint went sour. When asked if the former Ron Artest wants another shot at New York when he’s a free agent this summer, the confidant told The Post:
World Peace spent four seasons with the Lakers — two with Jackson, including winning the NBA title in 2009-10. The defensive forward is seeking a veteran’s minimum deal at $1.4 million. Under the terms of his buyout, The Post reported World Peace received $250,000 of the $1.6 million he had coming. That’s basically the difference between that salary and the veteran minimum he’s hoping to receive.
Phil Jackson is fond of World Peace and has told reporters in the past how it’s difficult to get him off the practice court. Nevertheless, Jackson gave some mixed-bag a.ssessments of the Queenbridge product in his 2013 book, “Eleven Rings.’’
Jackson referred to Metta’s “unpredictability;’’ alleged he tweeted he had signed with the Lakers before the deal was official and they still were courting Trevor Ariza; and wrote though he practiced his jumper religiously, “the only problem was that every day he would shoot with a different style.’’ Jackson said when he pointed it out to World Peace, the player got defensive.
Despite his arthritic knee issues, World Peace told The Post recently he feels he can play two more seasons. He asked for a buyout because he was told not to attempt being a leader in the locker room. The Knicks filled his roster spot with Earl Clark, but since then, didn’t renew Clark’s 10-day deal.
The Knicks, who are 30-42 with 10 games remaining, have clinched a losing record with the loss to the Lakers — a forgone conclusion since the All-Star break.
Carmelo Anthony, who never has missed the playoffs, also never was on a team with a losing regular-season record — until now.
“I’ve never been in that situation before, especially coming off of a 50-something plus win season,” Anthony said before the Knicks’ 107-99 win over the Kings. “We were hoping that we could build off that momentum that we had last year and knowing how good it felt to start something by winning 54 games. Now to have 29 wins, the tables have turned.”
|3 years ago||'04 #10756|
$40,711 | 2231
PHOENIX — Carmelo Anthony entered this season believing the Knicks could at least repeat as the Eastern Conference’s second seed. But after all the turmoil and losing, Anthony now says if the Knicks can somehow beat the odds and sneak into the playoffs as the eighth seed, it could wipe out a lot of the bitterness of 2013-14.
While some teammates may be more ambivalent, nobody is pushing the Knicks harder to make the postseason than Anthony.
Anthony has got a vested interest on many levels: 1) He has never missed the playoffs in his prior 10 seasons. 2) It will give him hope that perhaps the club isn’t so far away as he mulls free agency. 3) A postseason berth will prevent his former team, Denver, from picking in the lottery in this draft — the last piece to the blockbuster trade that brought Anthony to New York.
Asked if his view on the campaign would change if the Knicks made the playoffs, Anthony said, “Absolutely. Nobody really looks at the regular season. It’s over with. Everybody starts 0-0. Our goal is to get there.’’
If they get there, the Knicks will have a sub-.500 record. Even if they run the table in the final 10 games, the Knicks would finish 40-42.
“I’ve never had a losing record before,’’ Anthony said. “This year has been a very challenging year mentally, emotionally for me. I still find ways to remain positive throughout the situation and try to win basketball games. Through the whole season, we still have a chance to get in the postseason.’’
Anthony said new president Phil Jackson gave him a bit of a pep talk at the team’s morning shootaround at Staples Center before the Knicks faced the Lakers Tuesday, but their brief chat wasn’t related to his future. While Jackson has seemed nonplussed on whether the Knicks get in, he prodded Anthony.
It was the first time Anthony and Jackson, the two stars of the organization, spoke beyond introductions. They were holed up in the locker room for several minutes while the rest of the Knicks and coaching staff were on the court.
“He told me to get ready and play and try to finish out the season strong,’’ Anthony said. “We talked about him [relocating] to New York, him coming back from LA. The weather. A lot of generic.
“We haven’t had a tea party yet.’’
The roughest part of the Knicks’ five-game, make-or-break Western trip arrives Friday night against the Suns (43-29), who are vying for the eighth seed in the West. Then come the powerful Warriors (44-27) on Sunday. If the Knicks lose both, they’re wrecked.
The Knicks (30-42) trail the Hawks by 1 ¹/₂ games after Atlanta’s 100-85 loss to Portland on Thursday night. The Knicks’ April schedule, however, is beastly, with a game in Miami, two against the Nets and one each versus playoff teams Chicago, Toronto and Washington.
Perhaps for his résumé, coach Mike Woodson wants a playoff spot badly. The only shot for Woodson returning is getting in and perhaps upsetting the Pacers in the first round.
“I’ve been to [the playoffs] the last four or five years now, and to be home watching it on TV is not going to be any fun,” Woodson said. “So I’m desperately pushing these guys to try and get in there, because then a new season starts and anything is possible.”
Jackson will wait before he takes the temperature of Anthony’s view of the roster. Jackson has already hinted he wants to make substantial changes, saying the club is “in a talent hunt,’’ but he won’t have a lot of flexibility until 2015. Not only don’t the Knicks have their first-round pick, they are without their second-round pick too.
The chance of Anthony returning has increased significantly with Jackson aboard. Interested parties, the Rockets and Bulls have to get under the salary cap first before making a legit play for Anthony. The Clippers could only do a sign-and-trade, and the Lakers still aren’t certain Anthony makes sense with their cap space as a tandem with Kobe Bryant.
Plus, it’s hard to imagine Lakers president Jeanie Buss would want to steal Anthony from the Knicks and Jackson, her fiancé.
As team spokesman, Anthony has attempted to show leadership during this trying season and gave stirring remarks after the debacle against the Lakers about the Knicks taking out their “anger’’ on the Kings.
The one gaffe he has made this season was talking too much about his free agency and his future — which could have come off as not being in the moment to teammates. However, one of Anthony’s character traits is being too congenial; he almost never shoots down a reporter’s question.
Anthony seems on board with Jackson and nobody is f!ghting harder for a playoff berth.
|3 years ago||'04 #10760|
$40,711 | 2231
SAN FRANCISCO — When Steve Mills became Knicks president four days before training camp, he vowed to make every road trip, attend every practice, listen in on every coach’s meeting. Coach Mike Woodson welcomed it.
Phil Jackson is no Steve Mills.
I’m sure we will read in Jackson’s next leadership book on the Zen Buddhist teachings on why he decided to mostly to stay away from the team in the first two weeks of his new job as Knicks team president.
As the leader-less Knicks embarked on the Bay Area to face Golden State on Sunday with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Jackson was down the coast in La-La land.
The Zen Master blew off the rest of the five-game West Coast trip after the Knicks opened with their embarrassing 127-96 loss to the Lakers. The club will finish off in Utah on Monday.
The Knicks will face coach Mark Jackson’s Warriors in Oakland, where the native New Yorker is rumored to be on the way out with no contract-extension talks in the works and a recent feud with a.ssistant coach Brian Scalabrine.
Mark Jackson could be available in the offseason to set up a Jackson & Jackson tandem. But it says here the egos are too grand for the two ex-Knick players to make something work. Phil may want to mold his own coach such as Steve Kerr. Either way, Phil won’t be at Oracle Arena to take the temperature of the Oakland controversy.
There will be no consorting with players or coaching staff imparting his wisdom during these desperate times. No schmoozing with opposing team’s front-office personnel or agents that he needs to get to know.
No lecture to the players on Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path he has used with the Bulls and Lakers as a refresher course to selfless basketball. He will save it all for next season’s team, his team.
With nine games to play, the Knicks trail the fading Hawks by 1¹/₂ games. Atlanta lost 101-97 to the Wizards Saturday night.
“There’s no more talking,’’ Carmelo Anthony said, not worried about Phil’s whereabouts. “We got to go out and play ball. Either we want it or don’t.’’
The Knicks didn’t seem to want it in Phoenix on Friday when potential 2015 signee Goran Dragic destroyed them.
“I just keep hearing [Atlanta] keeps losing,’’ Anthony added. “As long as they keep losing, we got to keep winning. But we can’t control what they do. We only can control what we do and we didn’t [Friday].’’
Jackson was spotted the other night leaving a posh Los Angeles restaurant with his fiancée, Lakers president Jeanie Buss.
“I’m happy he’s found something he really wants to do,’’ Jeanie told the cameras.
Jackson was asked if there’s any chance taking over the bench.
“Can’t do it,’’ Jackson said. “Part of my physical [in]capabilities.’’
Jackson is expected to need another knee replacement surgery. But his health seems a curious excuse for him to be absent now.
“I will be accessible,’’ Jackson said at his press conference 10 days ago. “I am going to be removed.’’
So far he’s been removed — “InvisiPhil.’’ Jackson attended the Knicks’ shootaround at Staples Center on Tuesday, spoke briefly with Anthony in the locker room — mostly chit-chat. He didn’t talk to another player or coach, taking a seat courtside with Mills and a.ssistant general manager Allan Houston.
Asked if he has had a conversation with Jackson, Stoudemire said, “He’s still trying to figure out the lay of the land. No pressure having a sitdown at this point. Eventually I’ll have that sitdown.’’
Perhaps Jackson doesn’t want to get attached to players he wants to try to shuttle out this summer, even if getting to know them better should be part of the evaluation.
This is new territory for Jackson. He’s getting paid $12 million a year for five years with no presidential experience.
Jerry West said running a team is “a difficult’’ job. Mike D’Antoni, before his Lakers destroyed the Knicks at Staples Center on Tuesday, said Jackson’s excellence as coach doesn’t mean it will translate to president.
Jackson was at the Knicks-Lakers game but wasn’t there. He snuck into the arena, sat hidden in an upstairs suite — undetected until the second period. He wasn’t with the team after the game, leaving before the final buzzer but not without calling them “awful.”
No matter what lips service he paid at the press conference to making the playoffs, his actions speak of ambivalence. In two games on the trip, in Los Angeles and Phoenix, the players have been ambivalent on defense, allowing 129 and 112 points, respectively.
If Anthony stays because of Jackson, he will have earned part of his $60 million. Jackson is expected in New York for the Knicks’ return vs. Brooklyn on April 2.
There’s an old saying: “Showing up is half the job.’’ If he genuinely cared about the Knicks making the playoffs, he would be in Oakland tonight with his desperate team being the Zen Master.