NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Despite three consecutive 50-loss seasons, the Knicks apparently still believe Phil Jackson can lead a turnaround.
According to an ESPN report, which cited sources familiar with the situation, the Knicks and Jackson quietly picked up their mutual option “a while ago” on the remaining two years of his contract.
The team and its president each could have opted out of the five-year deal, signed in March 2014, following Year 3.
In February, Knicks president James Dolan said publicly he planned to follow through with his five-year commitment to Jackson.
The Knicks wrapped up a 31-51 season on Wednesday night with a 114-113 victory over the 76ers. Jackson’s Knicks went 17-65 in his first full season in the front office and 32-50 the following year.
The Zen Master’s tenure thus far has been marred by poor personnel decisions and an apparent lack of commitment to a rebuilding strategy.
After initially planning a slow build with young players aimed at producing long-term success, Jackson pivoted last summer to a win-now approach, trading for former MVP point guard Derrick Rose and signing center Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract. Rose produced mixed results while Noah struggled on the court, suffered knee and shoulder injuries and was suspended for taking a banned supplement.
And after indicating he wanted the Knicks to run the same triangle offense that helped him win 11 titles as a head coach, Jackson made a surprising decision by hiring ex-Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, who had no experience with the system. Hornacek leaned on a hybrid offense, using elements of the triangle and elements of his up-tempo, constant-motion system.
Next season, the Knicks are expected to fully commit to the triangle. The first step in the shakeup could be trading 10-time All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, whom Jackson signed to a five-year, $124 million contract in July 2014. Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause before being dealt.
Another big question facing the Knicks this offseason is what they might do at point guard with Rose set to become a free agent.
The Knicks have missed the playoffs each of the last four seasons.