clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Phil Jackson on his coaching search, J.R. Smith, and Carmelo Anthony

New, comments
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Serby did one of his Q&As with Phil Jackson in today's Post. The whole thing is worth reading because Serby asks typically good questions and Dad is typically thoughtful and candid in answering them. The questions about leadership and expectations for this team illuminate some of Jackson's philosophy. Questions about specific people are most interesting to me. Here they are:

1. Jackson shoots down the idea that losing Steve Kerr and hiring Derek Fisher was merely a matter of money, playing up the ideas that Kerr came into the process eyeing the Warriors job and that Kerr has ties to the area. I can't confidently parse this part:

I think probably Derek's the right choice for this job, so I have no qualms, no problem with it at all, and I'm thankful that Jim wanted to bend. But I think I had to make a statement about what I wanted to pay a coach.

Q: After Steve decided to take this Golden State job?

A: Before.

Q: Steve wasn't offered what Derek was, correct?

A: We were negotiating at that level.

I think he's saying Dolan was willing to flex on maximum salary to make sure the Knicks could hire Fisher? And I think he's saying negotiations with Kerr approached the $5 million per year Fisher is reportedly making? Maybe? Doesn't matter that much at this point.

2. On "getting through" to J.R. Smith and putting an end to his "antics":

I don't know if that's possible or not. He might be one of those guys that's a little bit like Dennis Rodman that has an outlier kind of side to him. But I'm gonna get to know him as we go along, and we'll find a way to either make him a very useful player on our organization, or whatever.

"OR WHATEVER." That response begins with Jackson comparing J.R. to a much wilder, much more productive on-court presence and ends with a pretty unmistakable suggestion that the Knicks might not make J.R. part of their long-term future.

3. After dismissing the idea that Carmelo Anthony could ever match Kobe Bryant's level of training, Jackson insists several times that Melo's task this year will be to relinquish some of the scoring burden to become a more balanced player. He addresses this in the context of the critical "shoot the shit out of it" Danny Ferry scouting report that leaked as a by-product of the reporting on his Luol Deng comments:

A: I think there's probably 15 players in the NBA that are very similar position. I don't know if all of 'em are paid $20 million, but the coaches and GMs are talking about it in those type of terms - how much does this guy hurt your team, or hurt the game flow because he's trying to score. The attempt to score, the need to score, the pressure that he feels he has to score. ... Does he take away from the team game? That's what Danny's talking about there. And that's where Carmelo's gonna move forward this year in that situation - the ball can't stop.

Dad says this is what Melo wants.

We're nearing the point at which we have basketball. Words are all we have for now, and I thought those were some pretty interesting words. Again, the whole interview is worth your time.