So much for triangle solidarity: Even Scottie Pippen thinks his former coach has done a poor job as an executive and should leave New York.
Pippen, who won six rings with Phil Jackson in Chicago, placed the blame on the Zen Master for the Knicks’ disastrous season while taking the side of Carmelo Anthony.
“To be honest with you, I’m going to have to go at my old coach Phil Jackson,” Pippen said on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “I think he just hasn’t put the right pieces on the floor. I give a lot of credit to Carmelo who is being very professional in getting through these 82 game season. And now he’s being benched to some degree, they’re taking a lot of his minutes away. But this team just hasn’t had it. They haven’t had it since Phil Jackson landed there. There hasn’t been any upside.”
After saying “fans would love to see Carmelo in New York and Phil out,” Pippen was asked by host Rachel Nichols if he believes Jackson “should be out.”
“Yes,” Pippen replied emphatically.
The fact that Pippen openly criticized is surprising. While Jackson has become a target for current and former players – including LeBron James and Tracy McGrady – he hasn’t been taken to task by those he succeeded with in Chicago and L.A.
Shaquille O’Neal, for instance, recently blamed the Knicks players for not adapting to the triangle offense. Kobe Bryant said at the end of last season that Knicks fans should keep faith in Jackson because, “people in NY just need to trust the fact that he knows more about basketball than all of them put together.”
But Jackson’s record is indisputably bad as Knicks president, sitting at 77-162 since heading into Friday’s game at Miami. He re-emphasized the triangle midway through this lost season, and more recently the Knicks decided to reduce Anthony’s minutes as a way to develop the younger players. Another intended consequence is that the Knicks will lose and position themselves better in the draft lottery.
It has left Anthony bewildered.
“I don’t even know my role. I don’t know my role to be honest,” Anthony said Wednesday. “I’m just here to help those guys and keep those guys positive and motivated and I’ll get in where I fit in.”
Jackson has an opt-out clause in his contract at the end of this season, but said he wouldn’t exercise it unless there was a lockout (the new CBA has already been negotiated). Knicks owner James Dolan said he will honor Jackson’s full contract, which runs through the 2018-19 season, regardless of the results.