Phil Jackson took over the New York Knicks’ basketball operations department just over a month ago, and there could already be trouble in paradise. As expected, Jackson fired head coach Mike Woodson and most of his staff earlier this week. More moves are expected within the organization over the next several months. That is, if team owner James Dolan will allow them.
The NY Daily News reported on Tuesday that Jackson has already “clashed” with Dolan over personnel decisions. Dolan, who admitted last month that he is not a basketball expert, apparently disagrees with Jackson’s desire to remove certain employees and has told him to focus his efforts on building a winning team.
When Jackson signed a five-year, $60 million contract and became the highest-paid executive in the league, the assumption was that he would be given an opportunity to change the culture of the Knicks organization — not just the team’s roster.
As the Daily News noted, long-time assistant coach Herb Williams was one of the coaches fired on Monday. Shortly after, a report surfaced indicating the team would “encourage” its next head coach to bring Williams back. Considering Jackson decided to fire him along with Woodson, that makes little sense. Unless, of course, Dolan is the person responsible for the report.
“There are a lot of good people at the Garden and a lot of good people that travel with the team, but if Phil wants to start fresh why wouldn’t you allow him to do that?” a Knicks employee reportedly told the Daily News.
Earlier this week, ESPN New York’s Ian Begley reported that Jackson has been vocal about his disappointment with some of the Knicks’ players conditioning this past season. That has led to speculation that people within the team’s medical and training staff could lose their jobs, which could be one of the issues Jackson and Dolan are not seeing eye-to-eye with.
Jackson made it very clear that he would not have accepted the Knicks job without full control. We know Dolan has a history of vetoing decisions and not allowing the people he hires to work independently. Jackson is not going to allow himself to become just another Dolan employee.