Knicks president Phil Jackson says team will 'consider everything' this offseason

ByIan Begley via ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Phil Jackson would like to see the New York Knicks improve their win total by at least 25 games next season.

"I want to see us have a winning record. I want to see us win. And that's a big jump to go from where we're at to having a winning record," Jackson, the team president, said on Tuesday.

The Knicks finished this season at 17-65 -- the worst record in franchise history. So Jackson acknowledged that it would be irrational to think the Knicks can win a title next season.

"We don't expect to go to a championship next year. That would be like talking crazy," Jackson said.

But the 13-time NBA champ believes he can add enough talent this offseason to build the foundation of a winning team.

"That's what we're after. We're after winning," Jackson said.

New York is expected to have at least $25 million in cap space to spend on free agents this summer. The Knicks also have a top-five pick in the draft.

Jackson said on Tuesday that he would consider trading the pick, depending on where the Knicks finish in the draft lottery.

"We'll consider everything," Jackson said. "I mean, I want to be quite blunt with you and say, depending upon the lottery -- everything starts when the picks come in on the 19th of May. Everything starts to germinate from there. Do you move a pick 1, 2, 3 or 4? Um, that's questionable. Do you move a pick five if that's the end result and use it as a chip? Maybe. So there's a lot of options out there."

Knicks general manager Steve Mills said earlier this month that the team had already fielded two offers for its pick but that he and Jackson would prefer to keep the pick.

Jackson reiterated that stance on Tuesday.

"The reality is we want to grow a star through this system that'll be here for 15 years and a career," said Jackson, who does not plan to sit on the dais for the draft lottery. "We love the fact that 30 years ago Patrick Ewing ... was a player with this organization for over 15 years. And that moved the franchise in a way which everybody recognizes. We think there are a couple of players in this draft that might be able to do that. So we're certainly not going to walk away from a situation like that."

Jackson said that taking a big man in the draft is a "priority" because he'd like to improve the Knicks' defense.

Kentucky's Karl Anthony Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor are considered the top two big men in the draft. Towns is widely seen as the stronger defender at this point.

Jackson also hopes to get two starting-quality players in free agency.

"Getting two or three players of talent changes your direction quickly," he said. "We've all seen that."

Jackson will sell free agents on the triangle offense, the presence of Carmelo Anthony and the history of winning that he and his staff have established.

"We have a unique style, and that attracts certain people," Jackson said."... We know that we have a limited amount and we have to do some very judicious shopping. We're not going to the Dollar Store, but we may not be at one of the bigger (stores)."

Asked to assess his job performance after his first full season as president, Jackson joked that he was "really surprised" he didn't get the executive of the year award: "It really bothered me. Haven't been [able] to sleep for a while."

Turning serious, Jackson, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract to run the Knicks in March 2014, acknowledged the importance of this offseason for both himself and the franchise.

"The real issue is ... how we do [proceed] from the end of June to the end of July in moving this team forward in quick order? That's going to be our challenge," Jackson said.

Jackson also acknowledged that it may take several years to turn the Knicks into an elite contender. He was asked if he'd be content with laying the groundwork to build a contender if he's not around to see it all the way through.

"Yes. In one short sentence, exclamation point, yes," Jackson said. "I'm fine with that."

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