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NBA PM: Phil Jackson Seeing Potential in Knicks

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Phil Jackson Seeing Potential in Knicks

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has officially been on the job for less than a month, but things are already turning around in the Big Apple. They’re winners of three straight games, and seven of their last 10; if the season were to end today, they’d be in the playoffs.

Now Jackson probably deserves the least amount of credit for the turnaround of anyone currently involved in the Knicks organization. It’s not like he’s come in and made radical changes or been really hands on with the day-to-day operations. He’s simply in observing mode right now, but he does see potential even in this year’s team. When asked if he believes the team is capable of making some noise in the playoffs, Jackson said yes due to the team’s balanced attack.

“Well, with J.R. [Smith] playing at the level he’s playing at now, yes,” Jackson said to ESPN NY’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “When Carmelo [Anthony] had to carry the load in scoring, a lot of times on his own back, and other people weren’t stepping into helping him carry that load, which Amar’e [Stoudemire] and J.R. have done, it could be a struggle. But now they have more than one option out there on the floor, and I think that we’ll give teams trouble.”

The more Jackson talks about Anthony, the more he seems interested in every facet of his game other than his ability to score. Scoring has always come natural to Anthony; he’s probably going to be able to score the rock well into his late 30s from everywhere on the floor because he’s just flat out gifted on that end of the court. However, Jackson wants far more from him than just points.

“Carmelo’s really stepped into another level of trying to help players,” Jackson said. “I think that’s one of the things that we see that Carmelo can do and that he’s grown as he’s gone along. Those are issues that are not only on the basketball court. They’re off the basketball court, they’re in practices, they’re in the training room, in the locker room, where players learn to lead and push the team forward with their energy.

“And I’ve been fortunate to have coached two of the great ones who have been able to do that in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. But there have been other players, too. There’s not just those players that do that. There are other players that have to be leaders on your team, and that’s what we have to assess as we go forward.

“I think you’re always assessing the team and the players and how they fit together and what’s the mood. Who’s not playing up to the level you want to see them play at, and who can produce more if they get an opportunity. So those are ongoing things. But we have an assessment at the end of the year that kind of synthesizes all that and then we can go forward from there.”

One of the other things that Jackson talked about during his session with the media after Knicks’ practice was that he would have no ties to any agency in particular. That was directed toward Creative Artists Agency, which represents a large contingency of the Knicks both on and off the floor. Prior to Jackson’s arrival they were viewed as having significant control over the Knicks, but those days appear to be gone.

Jackson also said that he will be at every Knicks game should they make the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Knicks, despite how well they’ve been playing as of late, they are virtually locked into the eight spot barring a serious late season collapse by the Charlotte Bobcats, who hold a four and a half game lead over the Knicks for the seventh spot with seven games remaining. That means they’re going to have to take on either the Miami HEAT or Indiana Pacers. Both would be the heavy favorites, although the Pacers are backing their way into the postseason.

Around The League

Here’s a look at what else is garnering headlines around the league this Thursday:

  • Boston Celtics forward Kris Humphries, the highest paid player on the team, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He’s averaged 8.5 points and six rebounds a game this season and although that’s not on par with his salary, the Celtics have apparently been impressed enough by him to talk about re-signing him this offseason.
  • In the midst of one of their worst seasons in their rich history, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking at charismatic shooting guard Nick Young as one of the possible holdovers. He has a player option for $1.2 million next season, but has played his way into a probable raise – increasing the chances that he explores free agency again. The Lakers’ decision to keep him will be dependent on whether they think his style can fit into a championship caliber team like the one they are hoping to build next year.
  • North Carolina junior power forward James Michael McAdoo has declared for the 2014 NBA Draft. McAdoo failed to live up to expectations throughout his collegiate career, but did develop into a solid four man who should be drafted, albeit somewhere in the middle-to-late portion of the second round.
  • The Houston Rockets are leaning against making an addition in light of Patrick Beverley’s injury. If that changes, though, former Virginia Tech and current Bayern Munich lead guard Malcolm Delaney is on their list. The Rockets hold the draft rights to Spanish guard Sergio Llull, but his contract with Real Madrid is too restrictive to bring him over at this point.
  • The Chicago Bulls waived Erik Murphy today and, according to K.C. Johnson, they are going to look to replace him with either Ronnie Brewer or Mike James. Both have previous ties to the team, but bring different things to the table. Brewer is an athletic forward capable of playing serviceable defense on multiple positions, while James is a point guard who can help stretch the floor with his jump shot. Whichever skillset the Bulls see as a bigger need will dictate their decision.

About Yannis Koutroupis

Yannis Koutroupis

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.