After the season he had, Knicks team president Phil Jackson should be made to sit on the dais at next month’s NBA draft lottery.
Even if the basketball gods he loves to quote are telling him, "No, don’t go near that bunch of losers," Jackson should be sent to sit among the other team representatives whose clubs are also sitting at home as the playoffs go on without them.
Well, what about it, Jim Dolan? This is one time where Jackson’s boss, the Garden chairman, needs to meddle.
Dolan should order his $60 million executive to represent the team at the May 19 drawing.
But at his latest (Sad) State of the Knicks address on Tuesday, Jackson said he probably won’t be in attendance at one of the landmark nights for this franchise. We're not surprised because Jackson thinks it's beneath him. But he needs to own what happened in the Garden this winter.
You might think it would be embarrassing for the 11-time champion to do a lottery.
Well, for one thing, he won his 11 titles as a coach, not as a team architect.
Let’s also recall that Jerry West and Pat Riley, two NBA titans as executives, have swallowed their pride and come to New York to field questions about what went wrong with their franchises. Both hated having to do it, but neither ever shirked what they saw as their duties.
If West and Riley can sit through a humiliating ceremony and suffer setbacks, as they both did when they left town with losses in the lottery, then so can Jackson, whose 17-65 rookie campaign ended with two completely unnecessary victories that could cost his team the No. 1 overall draft pick.
“Well, I was really surprised I didn’t get the Executive of the Year award. It really bothered me. Haven’t been to sleep for a while,” Jackson joked to reporters at one point.
Haha. Knicks fans who saw Jackson’s moves probably aren’t laughing along with the Zen Master. In fact, a good portion are probably thinking one thought: How much more damage can this guy do to screw up the team?
At least Jackson didn’t try to sell crazy at his season-ending sermon at the team’s practice facility, as Derek Fisher did in the final week of the season when he had the unmitigated gall to suggest that the Knicks could go from 17 wins to 63 victories next season. Does Fisher actually think fans are stupid enough to buy that line of bunk?
“We don’t expect to go to a championship next year," Jackson said. "That would be, like, talking crazy."
There’s this idea that Jackson’s duties don’t really start until the draft and then free agency on July 1. But that is a load of nonsense. Thirteen months on the job, he’s already made more than enough blunders to make even No. 1 fan Spike Lee wonder what catastrophe lies ahead for the orange and blue.
Jackson’s trading of Tyson Chandler to the Mavs could go down as one of the worst deals in team annals, according to some veteran NBA executives.
His trading of Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to the Cavs could be pivotal in helping LeBron James bring Cleveland its first title in any sport since 1964.
In both instances, the Knicks got next to nothing in return, and because of it have to come up big when they draft and when free agency opens on July 1.
There’s already widespread talk that Detroit’s Greg Monroe can’t wait to run to New York to sign a free-agent contract and that the Knicks are equally hot after Monroe, even if it means overpaying the power forward. Geez, if that’s the best Jackson can do -- Monroe is nobody’s idea of a difference-maker -- then Dolan really did make the wrong hire when he went looking for a lead executive in January 2014. Any NBA executive with $30 million in cap space can get Monroe.
Jackson was ostensibly hired to use his iconic name and supposed clout to attract the top level free agents to the Garden. So let’s see him at least go try to get Portland’s LeMarcus Aldridge or Memphis’ Marc Gasol, who are at the top of everyone’s free agent list.
We’re not sure how Jackson is going to proceed and we’re dubious as to whether he has the vision to build a winning team. He said he will sell what he calls “the system’’ the Knicks have established and Carmelo Anthony. First off, no team that wins all of 17 games in a season establishes a system. Secondly, last we checked, Anthony is an unapologetic ballhog and simply not cut out to play in the Triangle offense that Jackson is forcing Fisher to run.
But this all starts with how the Knicks fare at the lottery.
On lottery night, Phil Jackson needs to be there, front and center.
Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence