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With Phil Jackson gone, Knicks need to try something different

Phil Jackson speaks to reporters in an end-of

Phil Jackson speaks to reporters in an end-of season news conference on Friday, April 14, 2017. Credit: Richard Harbus

The Knicks need to give peace a chance. Nothing else has worked in this century, up to and including the maddening, not-so-Zen detour that was Phil Jackson’s three-year ka-ching of a term.

There is no disputing that Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan did the right thing parting ways with Jackson as team president Wednesday, his most popular executive decision since . . . hiring Jackson in 2014.

Hey, it was worth a try, just like bringing in Carmelo Anthony was in 2011. The team has expensive tickets to sell, and the theory always has been that big names are required to sell them.

In fact, though, winning is what sells, and Anthony and Jackson proved to be the wrong guys to deliver a championship, the former on the court and the latter off it.

So it is time to try something else in the front office, ideally a no-drama pro like Donnie Walsh, only younger, or Nets GM Sean Marks, only shorter.

(Oops, did not mean to discriminate. If there are any good 7-foot-tall general manager prospects out there, by all means, bring them in!)

Anything but a guy who thought he was smarter than everyone else and could bend the world to his will, be it an antiquated playing style that his coach and players didn’t want or his bungling of star player relations.

Jackson was correct in saying that both Anthony and the Knicks would be better off if Melo moved on, but when your star player has no-trade leverage, antagonizing him and then painting yourself into a negotiating corner is unwise.

Then Jackson turned off his other star, Kristaps Porzingis, causing KP to leave for Latvia in a huff, align himself with Melo and give fans a draft week full of agita while further causing potential free agents to wonder what the Knicks were doing.

Now, flush with their victory over Big Chief Triangle, maybe Anthony will stick around, Porzingis will be re-engaged and the Knicks will rally behind Jeff Hornacek and improve toward eighth-seed mediocrity in 2017-18. Yay?

What the Knicks really need is leadership that quietly goes about its business and wins, a formula that has worked nicely in places such as San Antonio and Oakland.

Find someone who can finesse the Anthony situation, not try to coach the team from an office — or a Montana ranch — and restore the confidence of the league and fans who pay the bills by buying tickets and subscribing to cable TV.

Early speculation on Dolan’s next target includes the Raptors’ Masai Ujiri, who in 2014 famously addressed a fan rally before his team hosted the Nets in the playoffs by shouting an expletive before the word “Brooklyn.”

I was in Toronto that day, and even though he apologized, he did so with a bit of a smirk. OK, so perhaps that runs counter to the aforementioned no-drama goal. But Ujiri clearly knows what he is doing.

If he can be extricated from his contract, by all means, get the man through customs and get him to work.

There is no shame in boring, stable competence.

It has worked for the Giants, the only New York-area team to win a championship this decade, and for Dolan’s own Rangers, the most consistent winners among New York teams of the 2010s.

Let Jackson go home and count his money. The Knicks and their fans need someone they can count on.


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