Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan said that Phil Jackson has the final say on whom the Knicks hire as their next coach and on how to handle Carmelo Anthony's impending free agency.
"I made a commitment to Phil that he was going to run it," Dolan said during an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN Tuesday. "Unless he asks me to help, it's his to run."
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On the coaching search, Dolan said, "I have no idea who he's talking to" and that Jackson has to "check back with me" when he starts talking money.
Jackson, the Knicks president, said last week he had a verbal commitment from Steve Kerr, but he let him out of it to pursue the Golden State Warriors' job, which he eventually took.
Now Jackson is expected to pursue Derek Fisher, but he would need permission from the Thunder to speak to him since he's under contract until June 30. The NBA fined Jackson $25,000 on Monday for tampering with Fisher because he told reporters he's a candidate for the Knicks' vacancy.
Fisher's name never came up during the WFAN interview, but when the coaching search did, Dolan said to ask Jackson.
"Phil asked me not to tell anybody this but I'm going to tell you," Dolan said. "For my birthday, my family gave me a T-shirt and it says only two words on it -- it says, 'Ask Phil.' That's it.
"I have not asked him about the coaching search on purpose. I have not asked him about it. I just told him I'm here for you if you need me. If you don't need me, that's fine, too. I got lots to do."
When Dolan hired Jackson in March, he said he "willingly and gratefully" gave him full control of the basketball department.
On the eve of the Rangers playing in their first Stanley Cup Final since 1994, Dolan said the hockey team is "easier" to manage and run than the Knicks mainly because of president and general manager Glen Sather.
But Dolan said the Knicks will get easier to run with Jackson in charge now, and he hopes they can have similar success. "I'm very happy that Phil's with us now because I think he brings the same thing to the table," he said. "I think he can do the job, and I'm looking forward to watching what he does."
Dolan said he likes what he's seen from Jackson thus far and that he's working well with general manager Steve Mills.
"He's taking control," Dolan said. "He and Steve are working really well together. That was a big piece for me because there are a lot of the pieces of the operation that have to be run. I knew that Phil wasn't going to have the time for it.
"Having Steve in there, things like the D-League and the development of players and everything down to the medical staff, etcetera. Phil has a great guy underneath him, actually right next to him. I think I got the right team in place managing it. We'll see how it turns out."
The Dolan family owns
controlling interests in the
Knicks, Madison Square
Garden and Cablevision.
Cablevision owns Newsday.