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Phil Jackson letting Derek Fisher and assistants do the teaching

Knicks president Phil Jackson watches during the first

Knicks president Phil Jackson watches during the first day of training camp at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Knicks president Phil Jackson says it's hard to watch hours of practice and stay attentive without getting up and giving some input, but he's doing his best to resist.

"Let them feel their way out there," Jackson said Friday.

He said he does get up occasionally to walk around, but in his new role, Jackson -- an 11-time champion as a coach -- isn't the one instructing the players.

First-time coach Derek Fisher and his staff do most of the talking. The voices heard most during the first six practices at Christl Arena belonged to Fisher and assistants Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons.

"I think they did a good job, including their staff," Jackson said. "The guys had their voice. The players are attentive and enthusiastic."

For some reason, Jackson wasn't expansive on questions about Fisher and the job he's doing. At one point, he answered a question about Fisher by saying, "I'm good. We covered that."

But the players have praised Fisher. Carmelo Anthony said he has their respect, and Iman Shumpert said it doesn't seem as though Fisher, whose playing career ended in May, is coaching for the first time.

"He sort of seems like he did it before," Shumpert said. "I don't know if everybody else did, but I didn't think that he would be that good right off the bat. But he speaks as if he's been coaching for years. You sort of forget that he played at times until he goes out there and does an example and he does it way better than most coaches do it. I think he's been doing a great job."

The Knicks held their final practice at West Point on Friday and felt good about what they have accomplished. Fisher emphasized defense and the players have a better understanding of the triangle offense. As a team, the Knicks believe they grew closer and have a singular focus. But Jackson said that's just the beginning of becoming a team and that the Knicks have a long way to go.

"We're just six practices in," he said. "This is way too early to talk about anything. It's just getting organized and have a concerted effort, see a team start to focus on defense, collectively being aware of that and then having the learning capabilities offensively so they understand how to play with each other. So those are all long-term things that go on for the next three weeks."

But it won't end when the regular season opens Oct. 29. Jackson said it "takes quite a while" for teams to run the triangle offense well. The advantage he had with the Bulls and Lakers was that those teams played together for some time before Jackson got there. The Knicks have seven new players.

"You have to keep it simple to start with and then you can bring complexity into it," Jackson said. "This is a team that has not played together a lot. Some of these players have, but probably the majority or half of them have not. So it's a learning curve for all of them.''

Later Jackson quipped, "I think they'll figure out how to get the ball to Carmelo when they need to score. I think that'll be a big help for them."

New York Sports