Mike Woodson says bringing in Phil Jackson would be a major coup for the Knicks, and if and when it happens, he would like to sit down and talk to him about basketball.
The hiring of Jackson appears to be nearing. Multiple reports say an agreement in principle is in place, although the Knicks have not commented.
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"I've got a great deal of respect for Phil, and if the Knicks decide to go that route, I think he can't do nothing but enhance the organization," Woodson said during an interview on ESPN Radio Thursday. "But my focus right now is strictly on coaching and trying to get us into this playoffs."
The Knicks have won five straight and are 31/2 games behind Atlanta for the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot. But even as the Knicks have dominated in those games, winning by an average of 17.2 points, news of Jackson running their basketball department has taken over the conversation.
All signs point to Jackson being named the Knicks' president of basketball operations. An 11-time champion as a coach, Jackson has no front-office experience. He likely will want to bring in his own general manager and a coach fluent in the vaunted triangle offense.
Steve Mills was hired less than six months ago to be the Knicks' president and general manager, but he could have his job title and description changed or he could be reassigned. Woodson could be coaching his final 16 games with the organization.
But Woodson has spoken highly of Jackson and looks forward to speaking with him.
"I would want him to view me as a coach," Woodson said. "If and when that time comes, I would just love the chance to sit with him and talk basketball. He's a basketball guy, I'm a basketball guy. This is 30 years I've spent in this league, so that's what we'll do, but until that happens, my focus is strictly on trying to get this team in the playoffs. That's it."
Woodson has been under fire since November as the Knicks got off to a disappointing start. Despite losing a lot of leadership and key players from last season, they were expected to contend for a title.
Woodson has a 98-74 record as Knicks coach. He guided them to an Atlantic Division title and their first playoff series win since 2000 last season.
During the ESPN interview, Woodson was asked if he feels he has been treated unfairly at any point this season or whether anything had been portrayed inaccurately. He said he wouldn't "air that out" but that if he felt that way, he would talk to the appropriate people.
"If there has been any unfairness to Mike Woodson, when the time comes, we'll sit down and talk, me and Mr. Dolan [Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan], if that may be the case, or whoever is in charge here," Woodson said.
"I think at the end of the day, it's been tough on everybody because of the high expectations. I'm not running away from that or sitting here saying that I was not a part of it. Yes, I am a part of it.
"I'm the coach here, and based on what we've done the past two years here, I wasn't expecting this year, and I'm trying to rectify it by getting us in the playoffs, pushing this team to understand that we still have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs, and then there's another season after that. Fair or not fair, I'm still just trying to do my job, stay in my lane and see if I can make this happen."
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