As is tradition, Phil Jackson gave a season post-mortem today, and he said a lot of things.
Here's the full thing if you want to see it for yourself:
.@PhilJackson11: "We are here about getting quality, skilled players."— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 14, 2016
FULL EXIT INTERVIEW: https://t.co/GAYRnFy4Sahttps://t.co/ojtAsfzvmk
Don't worry, I'm here to break it down for you if you don't feel like watching that. Let's start with the positive stuff, yeah?
On the growth of the team, and the rookies in particluar
.@PhilJackson11: "We are ready to move forward and build the roster." #Knicks pic.twitter.com/nRADj4ddb3— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 14, 2016
.@PhilJackson11: "We are talking about a team in the making." #Knicks— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 14, 2016
Phil Jackson says he will be with Knicks and is committed to staying, noting that team has added a few "bricks" to foundation.— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) April 14, 2016
.@PhilJackson11: "Jerian got an opportunity when he [Calderon] got hurt & it gave him a lot of confidence & that was important."— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 14, 2016
Phil Jackson says agents have told the Knicks that Kristaps Porzingis is a player that others would like to play with.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 14, 2016
The first three things are true, and the latter two are cool to hear, especially the Kristaps thing. Kris said this afternoon that he doesn't yet feel comfortable reaching out to free agents, so hopefully Phil can put his mind at ease about that and convince him to join Carmelo Anthony on the recruiting trail this summer.
Here's another interesting team-building thing, by the way:
Jackson indicated he'd like to move forward with FAs Langston Galloway, Lance Thomas and Derrick Williams - if latter doens't opt out— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) April 14, 2016
Cool, cool, cool. Notice that he specifically doesn't mention Arron Afflalo. Peace the fuck out, Arron.
On criticism of the Triangle and its importance to him
Phil on any triangle wavering: "That's what I was brought here for: to install a system. That's all part of the package."— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) April 14, 2016
Phil Jackson on critics of the triangle: "Who are these people? Do they have 11 championships?"— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) April 14, 2016
This is less cool, though I get it. Phil thinks, and can offer evidence in the form of 11 championships to show, that his system works. And it'd be fine if he'd prefer that the principles of that system to stick in place but was willing to consider coaches outside of his immediate circle in the interest of hiring the best head coach. You know, like a rational person who isn't only concerned with self-affirmation. But NO! We got this stuff:
On the upcoming head coach interview process
Phil Jackson: "Only people I know will probably be involved in the interview process." Kurt Rambis is a candidate. pic.twitter.com/piP8ymO8vk— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 14, 2016
Phil wants coach who runs triangle. On critics of it, he said, "Do they have 11 championships to show you when they talk about that?"— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 14, 2016
Phil Jackson said will only talk to coaches he knows and has "compatibility" with him. It's important to have simpatico with coach/GM.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) April 14, 2016
Just to be clear, he actually didn't say "probably" in the first tweet. Regardless, this better be some serious misdirection. Minutes prior to Phil saying all this stuff, Melo outright demanded that the team expand its view when looking at head coaching candidates. Yet here comes Phil Jackson, talking about how important it is that the next coach runs the triangle. A good team president would probably make an exhaustive list of candidates, then narrow it down to 5-10 to bring in for interviews, then have a second interview with a few of those people before offering the job to one of them. But instead, he's implying that he's going to make a list that looks like this:
You know who isn't on there? Tom Thibodeau, AKA the guy anyone in their right mind would look to hire. And I'm not saying Phil has to hire Thibs! There's no denying that Thibodeau has butted heads with his bosses in the past, and I wouldn't blame Phil for wanting to avoid that. But he'd be crazy to refuse to meet with Thibs, or any other candidate for that matter, simply because he or she doesn't necessarily want to run Phil's system.
Now, there are two things worth considering here: 1. we don't know what he means when he refers to people he "knows;" and 2. he's often done something completely different than what he tells the media he plans to do. However, assuming Al Iannazzone isn't twisting Phil's words, he did say he wants the next head coach to run his system. Also, while he has certainly zigged when we expected him to zag in the past, he didn't do that when it came to installing a coaching staff. Let's not forget that he hired Derek Fisher straight out of retirement when he missed out on Steve Kerr and filled part of Fisher's staff with people he, not Fisher, wanted to hire. It seems to be part of the reason the Knicks are in their current, head-coach-less position. That doesn't bode well for the next hire. And really, that misdirection has applied only to player acquisition and retention in the past. But that adds up when you think about it.
I suspect that Phil's ultimate goal is to prove that his system is still relevant and that he can put any player inside it and build a contender. To do that, he needs a coach who runs his system. If the Knicks win a championship with Tom Thibodeau as head coach, then it's not Phil's system that won it for them, it's Thibodeau's. And Phil doesn't want that. I sincerely hope I'm reading this situation incorrectly, but if Phil proves truly unwilling to consider coaches who don't run his system, then we'll all be forced to do what we promised ourselves we never would: beg Jim Dolan to intervene. Please don't make us stoop that low, Phil. Just interview all the best candidates. Please.