The New York Knicks and Phil Jackson will part company according to people close to the organization. It is expected that late Wednesday morning Jackson will leave the team and end a relationship that started with much hope for the struggling franchise only three years ago.
The decision comes only days prior to the opening on July 1 of free agency and in part is due to the big difference of opinion resulting in a deadlock over the future of Carmelo Anthony as a Knick player.
Jackson publically said he was frustrated over the Anthony saga when the team’s poor season ended and was very critical of forward Kristaps Porzingis, the one Knicks player who has given the fans of New York hope the last year.
Those two factors along with Jackson’s continued push to play a triangle offense were among the reasons Jackson will depart.
Jackson, who is 71, had two more years left on his original five-year deal signed in 2014 and was clear he did not have any intention of remaining with the Knicks beyond that.
However, the way he handled the Anthony situation accelerated his departure. High scorer Anthony, who will not waive his no-trade clause, has another two years remaining on his current contract.
Jackson was becoming increasingly more frustrated with Anthony. With the start of free agency just three days away, James Dolan the team’s embattled owner chose to buy out Jackson’s remaining contract that will cost the team $24 million.
Jackson told reporters when the season ended that the team could not win with Anthony on the court currently and that it would be better for him as a player to be playing somewhere else, as his talent would allow him to chase a title.
Jackson then said that at the current time the team needed players that are active, can play every play, offensively and defensively.
During Jackson’s tenure with the Knicks the team was 90-171 as he pushed his triangle offense on his coaches. The one strong accomplishment was the drafting of Porzingis with the 2015 No. 4 pick, but even that soured in the end.
Jackson last week said he would entertain offers of trading Porzingis as he was upset the player did not attend the team’s exit meeting at the end of last season.
The timing of Jackson’s departure is odd, since it comes between last week’s draft and the start of free agency on July 1.