PHILADELPHIA - Phil Jackson did not accompany the Knicks here for Friday night's game against the 76ers, instead returning home to California, where he will meet up with the team during its upcoming West Coast swing.
But general manager Steve Mills did travel to Philadelphia and spoke briefly to reporters after the team's morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center.
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"We're excited to have him with us," Mills said of Jackson. "It's going to be a great partnership. I think it will be great to work with him and it's going to be fun."
Mills said he appreciated the electric atmosphere at the Garden Wednesday when Jackson was introduced during the Knicks' victory over the Pacers.
"It was great," he said in his first remarks to reporters since October. "I think [fans] responded well to Phil and the team has responded well, so it's been great."
Mills replaced Glen Grunwald before the season and was in charge of the basketball operation until Jackson came aboard. His role in the new Jackson-led regime has yet to be determined.
"I'm just looking forward to us finishing strong and I think we have a lot to look forward moving into next year," Mills said. "But the most important thing for us, we're obviously disappointed with how the season worked out, but we have an opportunity to make the playoffs and we just want to make a strong push."
Brown in, Clark out
The team signed guard Shannon Brown to replace forward Earl Clark. "It just didn't work out with Earl," coach Mike Woodson said. "We like Shannon and Shannon's going to be with us the rest of the way. We have got an open spot, so we'll see how it works out."
Woodson said he "chatted a little bit" with Jackson at the team's facility during the week. "I'm sure as the days and times go by and we're together, or away, we'll have an opportunity to talk," he said . . . Amar'e Stoudemire was asked before the game if he can fathom what it's like to lose 22 games in a row, as the 76ers had -- before making it 23 Friday night. "At my age, at 31, it would be extremely tough to go through," he said. "These guys are very young, so they have a long career ahead of them. It's a learning process for them at this point. But I've never experienced it before and really don't want to."