Phil Jackson has agreed “in principle” to join the New York Knicks as president and oversee the team’s basketball operations, the New York Post reported.
Jackson, whose 11 coaching championships are a National Basketball Association record, gave the Knicks a verbal commitment on March 8, the newspaper said, citing a person familiar with the situation who was not identified. Lawyers are still completing the contract, which they’re expected to do by the end of the week, the Post said.
Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks’ leading scorer who is eligible to become a free agent after this season, said hiring Jackson would not “have any impact on me as far as what I’m thinking or my decision.”
Anthony also told reporters before the Knicks’ 116-92 win at the Boston Celtics last night that Jackson “knows how to put guys together, put a team together.”
“I don’t know exactly what his role will be, but I’m pretty sure that any time Phil Jackson is involved, he’ll be pretty involved, whether on the bench or in the front office,” Anthony said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll do what he has to do to try to put a championship team together here.”
Jackson, a forward, was selected by the Knicks with the 17th pick of the 1967 NBA draft out of the University of North Dakota. He played in New York until 1978 before finishing his career with the New Jersey Nets.
Spinal fusion surgery kept Jackson from playing for the 1969-70 Knicks team that won an NBA title. He was active when New York captured its most recent title in 1973, playing on a team with Hall of Famers Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, Willis Reed and Earl Monroe.
Jackson went on to coach the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, from 1989-98, winning six NBA titles. He moved to the Los Angeles Lakers and won five more championships before resigning in 2011.
Steve Mills, who returned to the Knicks in September as the team’s president and general manager, will stay with the team in a new role and work with Jackson, the Post said.