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Knicks' Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher say they will work closer this season

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to the media to preview the upcoming season at the MSG training facility on September 25, 2015. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Phil Jackson won't be sitting on the bench, but he will spend more time in the coach's office and film room this season -- at the request of coach Derek Fisher.

Jackson, the Knicks president who won an NBA-record 11 championships coaching the Bulls and Lakers, wanted to give Fisher his space last season. But after the first-time coach guided the Knicks to a franchise-worst 17-win season, Fisher asked Jackson for assistance.

Fisher said he wanted more "one-on-one" discussions with Jackson to see how to prepare himself and the team better, and welcomes counseling from "one of the great basketball minds we've ever seen." Jackson promises to be more involved and hands-on for his hand-picked protege.

"I thought that maybe I stepped back too far last year," Jackson said during a pre-training camp news conference Friday. "I wanted Derek to be his own person, to have his own feel for this and that was multiplied in numbers of ways.

"Derek's kind of asked me to be a little more present this year. Not in the aspect of coaching, but just in being around and talking basketball and influential in observations. I think I'll probably be even more involved than I was last year as far as being here and being watchful and suggestive, watching film together with Derek at times."

It has been a tough transition for Jackson and Fisher in their first-time roles.

After overhauling the roster last summer, Jackson predicted the Knicks would be a playoff contender. Jackson tore down the roster in-season. Fisher, who went directly from playing to coaching without serving as an assistant, had a difficult time getting players to play their roles and defend.

Now, with training camp to open Tuesday, the Knicks believe they have assembled a team that will work together better and a plan for the president and coach to do the same.

"We're all in this together," Fisher said. "I do think there were times last year that out of respect for each other's titles as we learned how to operate from player/coach to president/head coach not wanting to bother each other or overload each other with too much information and conversation. Over the course of this offseason, we feel like we found a better rhythm.

"I'm the head coach of the team. I lead the team. I'll do what I need to do to get the job done. But for sure, looking forward to spending more time away from the team, talking basketball, talking shop, learning from one of the great basketball minds we've ever seen."

Carmelo Anthony is the only player who remains from the roster Jackson inherited when he was hired in March 2014.

Fisher said Anthony will be "full go" for camp as he returns from season-ending left knee surgery. There were also rumblings that Anthony was unhappy with some moves the Knicks made over the summer. Fisher downplayed that, saying Anthony enjoys his teammates.

A group of them, including 7-3 rookie Kristaps Porzingis, went to Puerto Rico for Anthony's charity softball event. Anthony has continued to train with Porzingis and other teammates.

"I just think that he is healthy and feels good about his body and where he sees himself going," Fisher said. "Although there were questions about what he thought about decisions being made over the offseason, I think he actually enjoys and likes working with these guys and being around them.

"When you are healthy, your perspective changes on a lot of things and I just think he is looking forward to having a really good season and helping our team have a good season."

Notes & quotes: Jackson was asked if he had any special requests for Pope Francis, who said mass at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. "Bless the Garden?" Jackson joked before turning serious. "It's a wonderful occasion for the city and for the country, and lots of peace and goodwill. Nothing could be better." . . . General manager Steve Mills said Porzingis watches Usain Bolt videos to study his "running techniques."

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