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Can Jackson win again in New York? Carmelo is a key

Published March 29, 2014 11:34 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Phil Jackson can write headlines, too.

Who knew?

After the new president of the Knicks watched the lottery-bound Lakers roll to a 127-96 win over New York on Tuesday night at Staples Center, Jackson told reporters his team's performance was "awful."

The New York Daily News agreed, headlining its story on the Knicks' embarrassing loss with Jackson's own description: "Aw-Phil."

Bad as it was, the defeat provided a realistic look at the gigantic job Jackson faces.

Even in the watered-down Eastern Conference, the Knicks have not been a factor this season. They will not make the playoffs, barring a strong finish, and a summer of changes lies straight ahead.

The $60 million question, which is what the Knicks will pay Jackson over the next five years, is whether somebody with 13 championship rings as a player and coach can get his 14th as a team's architect.

It's difficult to bet against Jackson, considering his accomplishments and the built-in advantages a market like New York gives one of the league's glamor franchise.

The fact the Knicks haven't won a title since 1973 and have bombed unbelievably this season is significant, I suppose. But in this era of buddy-buddy All-Stars and players who coordinate their free agency, New York will likely be a destination of choice in the years ahead.

That's more true than ever after Jackson's hiring, given his accomplishments.

What's ahead?

Jackson's first two major tasks will likely involve hiring a new head coach and re-signing Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks' miserable season isn't necessarily Mike Woodson's fault. But, like any new boss, Jackson will almost certainly replace him with his guy.

A former player (Steve Kerr) and a current one (Derek Fisher, who will retire at season's end) — both without head coaching experience — are reportedly at the top of Jackson's wish-list of candidates.

By hiring either one, Jackson would be the absentee coach — something that might not be a bad idea at this point in the process of building the Knicks.

Once he lines up a new coach, Jackson will turn his attention to Anthony, who has already declared he plans to opt out of his contract this summer,

One of the most enigmatic superstars in the NBA, Anthony's value to a team like the Knicks is still difficult to underestimate. He hasn't been a big-time winner in his professional career — not yet — but teams need players with his skill-set to reach the top.

Jackson knows it.

The Knicks can offer Anthony more money than any other team, so they are automatically the frontrunner to keep him.

The presence of Jackson should seal the deal.

It will be almost impossible for Anthony to walk away from the chance to be Jackson's foundation player in New York — at least if his legacy is important to him.

That's probably one reason Knicks owner Jim Dolan went after Jackson with so much vigor and so much cash.

Anthony can't say no.

Not this summer.

Not with Jackson as the new captain of the USS Madison Square Garden.

Bailing out now would be aw-phil.

luhm@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sluhm —

NBA 3-pointers

Ghostly gathering • On a recent trip to the Bay Area, the Spurs stayed at the Claremont Resort, which has a history of reported paranormal activity. Count Jeff Ayres as a believer. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Ayres got to his room and the key wouldn't work. While standing in the hall, he heard baby noises and other voices coming from the other side of the door. He returned to the front desk, where an employee called the room. There was no answer. Ayres switched rooms. Afterward, he called the experience "… creepy. I really heard voices and a baby in the room, and there wasn't anybody in there. It was crazy."

Double denial • Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this week that Golden State coach Mark Jackson has been looking around for other jobs. "None of it was true," Jackson told reporters. "I'm not going to go any further." Wojnarowski also reported that Jackson went weeks last year without speaking to assistant Mike Malone, who is in his first season as head coach at Sacramento. Malone also denied the story. "First of all, Mike Malone commented and said that his part was a lie," Jackson said. "So there you have that. Second of all, it's poor reporting … if you knew this stuff and decided to hold on to it." Question: When and where did Jackson get his degree in journalism ethics?

Sixers can't score • The woeful Philadelphia 76ers rank 20th in the league in scoring. They also make only 30.5 percent of their 3-point shots. Only one other team (Detroit) shoots less than 33 percent from the 3-point line. The Sixers' inability to spread the floor and score consistently has been one of the reasons for their dreary season. "The league thinks we can't shoot, so they pack the paint," said coach Brett Brown. "We like to run, so they really try to get back and, when the game is kept in front of us, we struggle to score at times. Lately that's really hurt us [because] it's crept over into our defensive energy."

Steve Luhm