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Phil Jackson says Knicks are ‘hand-picked’ players he wanted

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson looks on

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson looks on during the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on Friday, March 27, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Phil Jackson has 11 rings and one short memory.

The Knicks president said in a podcast with Shaquille O’Neal that this past offseason was the first time he could pick the players he wanted and that he finally had the money to do it. But Jackson had the same situation in the summer of 2015.

“We talked about, in our initial meeting last Monday, about the fact that this is all hand-picked,’’ Jackson told O’Neal. “This is a hand-picked team. They all fit together in a way in which — we haven’t had this opportunity since I’ve been in New York.

“A lot of it was we simply had players who were here because of the past administration. And this is the first time we had an opportunity to not only get players but also have money to go out and solicit players off the free-agent market.”

Since becoming president in 2014, Jackson has turned over the roster several times. Carmelo Anthony is the only player left from the team Jackson inherited.

Jackson, who won a record 11 championships as a coach, blew up the roster with trades in his first season as an executive. In the summer of 2015, Jackson “hand-picked” free agents Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn. Of the four, only O’Quinn remains.

This past summer, Jackson traded for Derrick Rose and signed Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. The Knicks, who are 49-115 under Jackson’s watch, are improved. But before Jackson does a victory lap, it’s only the preseason, and the Knicks have many questions.

Noah and Rose have been injury-plagued over the years and Rose comes with baggage. He missed his second straight preseason game Monday night — a 90-88 win over the Wizards at the Garden — because he’s in Los Angeles for his civil sexual assault trial. Noah hasn’t played in the preseason because of a hamstring injury.

The Knicks also aren’t that deep. They might need everything to break right for them to make the playoffs for the first time under Jackson.

Jackson has been adamant about the Knicks running the triangle offense. But new coach Jeff Hornacek said he will use “aspects” of the triangle and not all the time.

Even Jackson said today’s NBA players can’t play the triangle the right way. “How do you teach a system that requires so many fundamental skills to players that really haven’t been taught some of that basic stuff?” Jackson said during the podcast. “Footwork and passing and all those rudiment type of skills that are learned that have changed over a few years? It’s a different game. “I solicited Jeff because Jeff came from a system, Utah had a nice system, and he wanted to accelerate the game and play at the pace that present ballplayers like to play at. And yet find a way to try and incorporate it. It’s got to be done in a way in which it doesn’t slow the game down but actually accentuates what they’re trying to do.”

Notes & quotes: Lance Thomas made two foul shots with two-tenths of a second left and the score tied at 88 to lift the Knicks to the win . . . Anthony led them with 19 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 15.

New York Sports