NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York Knicks have a franchise-worst 63 losses and counting. But James Dolan still thinks his franchise is on a Straight Shot to the top.
Despite a season that has gone spectacularly awry, the oft-embattled Knicks owner is giving team president Phil Jackson a vote of confidence.
“You got to believe, baby!” Dolan said in a recent Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter. “I believe, I believe!”
Dolan, known to be a hands-on — aka meddlesome — owner, insisted he’ll stand by his word and let Jackson run basketball operations with autonomy.
“I enjoy being out of the limelight,” said Dolan, whose other ventures include MSG, the NHL’s Rangers, Newsday and his band, JD & The Straight Shot. “I enjoy having two experts (Jackson and GM Steve Mills) in there that I trust. I barely have to do a thing. It can stay like that for me forever. As long as we continue to make progress — and I’m sure we will. I believe!”
Dolan hired Jackson in March 2014 and tasked him with turning the Knicks into perennial contenders. So far it’s been a bust, but having the NBA’s worst record could be the price the Knicks have to pay in order to jump-start the rebuilding process. New York will have a lottery pick — potentially the top selection in the draft — and plenty of cash to spend in free agency.
Jackson has slowly but surely dismantled the team’s core, trading away Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, and buying out Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract. The season was already in the tank when the Knicks lost superstar Carmelo Anthony to knee surgery, leaving the Hall-of-Fame “Zen Master” to fill his roster with journeymen and D-Leaguers.
“The Knicks fans, by the way, have been great this year,” said Dolan, who acknowledged making a mistake in responding to an angry fan earlier this year. “The majority of them understand we’re in a rebuild, we’re moving as fast as we can and they see our opportunities as being huge. I think they are, but it’s all in Phil’s hands.”