“I’m a chess player, so that was a power move right there,” Carmelo Anthony said. “So now we’re going to see what’s the next move. But that was a great power move.”
The Knicks haven’t officially announced it yet, holding off until a press conference Tuesday morning. But the 11-time champion as a coach was already the focus before and after the Knicks’ 115-94 victory over Milwaukee on Saturday.
Jackson was on the Knicks’ only two championship-winning teams, in 1970 and 1973. He went on to win 11 more rings as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers, and the players are confident he can be a winner next as an executive.
“Phil knows what to do and how to build teams and how to win, that’s the most important thing,” Anthony said. “When you know how to win, whether you’re a coach or whether you’re in the front office, that stands out.”
Jackson will be responsible for trying to keep Anthony – if that’s what he wants – when the All-Star forward becomes a free agent this summer. He also will have to decide whether Mike Woodson remains as coach after leading the Knicks to the Atlantic Division title last season but only a 27-40 record so far in this one.
Woodson said he doesn’t feel he has to prove anything to Jackson in the final weeks of the season, though is aware some changes will be coming.
“When someone new comes in, he has his own thought process and philosophy in terms of how he feels and how the shape of the team should be, and until he gets here you just have no idea what he’s thinking and which direction he wants to go,” Woodson said.
Anthony said he hadn’t spoken with Jackson. Nor had center Tyson Chandler, but he can envision the type of boss Jackson would be after competing against him.
“I can see him being hands on, the type of competitor that he is,” Chandler said. “I can see him taking time out with certain individuals and really, like I say, maximizing the talent that we have.”
Woodson had a chance to talk with Jackson last year, when the Knicks held a dinner to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their last championship. Woodson recalled Jackson praised the team and told him to keep it up.
There’s little to praise this season, another in a long list of debacles over the last decade. So the players are eager to see the impact that can be made by someone who’s been around so much winning.
“He is a champion and a leader,” forward Amare Stoudemire said. “He knows what it takes to win. He has been around great organizations and has been successful.”