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Sources: Phil Jackson to take over Knicks' basketball operations

Phil Jackson smiles prior to the Los Angeles

Phil Jackson smiles prior to the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP / Mark J. Terrill

The Knicks reached into their storied past and brought back one of the greatest winners in NBA history, hoping he can help bring them their first championship since 1973.

Phil Jackson is returning to New York to run the Knicks' basketball department, according to multiple league sources. He will be introduced at a news conference at Madison Square Garden Tuesday morning.

The Knicks sent out an advisory Friday afternoon that they will "make a major announcement" Tuesday but did not mention Jackson by name.

Jackson, 68, has never run a front office before, but no one questions his basketball knowledge or ability to build a winning environment and team.

After spending 11 seasons with the Knicks and being part of their only two championship teams in 1970 and 1973, Jackson, nicknamed the Zen Master, guided the Bulls and Lakers to 13 NBA Finals and 11 titles.

A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Jackson has an 1,155-485 record as a coach and ranks first in NBA history in most championships as a coach, regular-season winning percentage (.704), playoff wins (229) and postseason winning percentage (.688).

"I'm an avid fan of Phil Jackson," Amar'e Stoudemire said Friday. "He has a winning pedigree that's unmatched. So to have that type of leadership around would be awesome.

"I would love to sit down and just pick his brain about basketball and what it takes to win. That's going to be great for us."

Jackson made his mark as a coach with some of the greatest players in NBA history on his teams -- Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. But Jackson, who reportedly could make between $12 million and $15 million a year, will have his work cut out for him as he tries to rebuild the Knicks.

They have reached the NBA Finals only twice since their glory years four decades ago and have won only one playoff series since 2000.

The Knicks are 26-40 and currently are 31/2 games out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. Their best player, Carmelo Anthony, will be a free agent this summer and they have no first- or second-round picks in the June draft.

Jackson lives in California and it's unclear how much time he will spend in New York. It's also unclear whether he will look to make immediate changes with the roster this summer or clear the decks for 2015, when Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could be available on the free-agent market.

The Knicks are set to have plenty of cap space that summer when the contracts of Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani expire. They could have even more if Anthony doesn't re-sign.

Jackson likely will make changes in the basketball department and on the bench.

Steve Mills was hired four days before training camp to be the Knicks' president and general manager, replacing Glen Grunwald. Mills is expected to remain with the organization, but his role will be different. Allan Houston is the assistant general manager and runs the Knicks' D-League team, and Mark Warkentien is the director of player personnel.

Jackson might want to bring in his own general manager and a coach fluent in his vaunted triangle offense.

The 2014-15 option on Mike Woodson's contract was picked up in the fall, but he is not expected to be back despite leading the Knicks to a 54-28 mark last season.

One possible coaching candidate is Steve Kerr, who played for Jackson in Chicago. Kerr has said he wants to be a head coach and has remained in contact with Jackson. Kerr told Newsday earlier in the week that he's "very uncomfortable talking about a job that doesn't exist and one that is occupied by someone that I have a lot of respect for."

Kerr did say his former coach wants to assume this type of role.

"Well, I've stayed in touch with Phil over the years,'' he said, "and I know just from being with him at times that this is what he wants to do is build a franchise.''

Woodson has spoken highly of Jackson since reports broke March 7 that the Knicks had offered Jackson a job in their front office. Woodson said Thursday that he would like to sit down with Jackson and talk basketball with him.

Jackson, a 6-8 power forward in his playing days, was selected by the Knicks in the second round of the 1967 NBA draft (17th overall) out of the University of North Dakota. He was injured during the first world championship season but was a key contributor for the 1973 title team.

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