ProBasketballTalk.com reports a James confidante waxes “there’s no way LeBron would have gone to New York under the current climate … but with Phil there I think he will look at it.”
The 68-year-old and 11-time coaching champion Jackson is expected to be formally introduced as the president of basketball operations at a Garden press conference on Tuesday. The installation reportedly gives Jackson, who has also won two titles as a player, full control of all basketball decisions.
Jackson and the Knicks are hoping his reputation will instantly give the franchise the level of credibility Pat Riley has proven to have in a similar post in Miami. Since convincing James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade in South Beach in 2010, the Heat have played in three straight finals and won back-to-back titles, en route to earning a chance of joining Jordan’s Bulls and Kobe/Shaq’s Lakers as the only team to three-peat in nearly the last two decades.
A source tells ProBasketball that Heat execs now fear that roll could be in imminent danger as James ponders options that could pave the way for him to make his own best deal this summer. Still, while conceding Jackson does indeed have the level of cache to rival Riley and attract star-quality players to the league’s biggest market, another exec adds “Phil has to build something first.”
The source later added “Phil can help the Knicks because he gives them a face and credibility, but these big free agents are only going to a place where they feel they can win.”
Jackson’s first order of business appears to be installing his own front office team and rumors are former player Steve Kerr, who won three titles playing for Jackson and alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for the Bulls, is his leading candidate to become coach, even though he has no such experience.