Frank Isola: ‘Phil Should Have Been There’

Phil Jackson is getting paid $12 million a year to be team president of the New York Knicks. That’s a lot of money.

Thus, you might expect him to be interested in doing team-president things such as, you know, attending the NBA Draft Lottery, which was a hop, skip and a jump from his place of residence.

“I think symbolically he should have been there,” New York Daily News NBA writer Frank Isola said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They’re paying him a lot of money. He’s supposed to be the face of the organization. He’s partly responsible for them being a 17-win team. Phil lives a half a mile from the Hilton. Are you engaged? It should be about Phil. Let the fans know that you’re in charge. We won 17 games. Afterwards tell (the fans), ‘We’re never going to be here again while I’m running (the show).’ Not to be there, I just think it sends off the wrong message. It really doesn’t let you know that he’s in charge or that he wants to do the job.”

Indeed, Jackson may turn 70 in September, but this is not a retirement gig. If you want to be a successful team president, you’ve got to be locked in and willing to put in the hours.

“There’s no question,” Isola said. “To me, Phil Jackson’s genius is that when he’s a coach and he coaches great players, he’s able to get those players to play together and win together – and there’s something to be said for that. That doesn’t mean that other guys can’t do it, but he’s done it and he’s done it very well. When the Knicks announced that he was coming to New York, Knicks fans wanted to throw a parade. ‘Oh, we got Phil Jackson!’ Well, hang on a second. You’re not getting him to be your coach. You’re getting him to do a job he’s never done before.”

The Knicks, Isola noted, don’t have a great track record of developing players. Take Danny Green, for example. The San Antonio Spurs transformed a D-Leaguer into a key member of an NBA championship team.

“Here’s a novel concept: developing players. something that the Spurs do and teams like the Knicks don’t do,” Isola said. “The Knicks think the way to do everything is just to throw gobs of money at people, and they did it with their team president. More power to Phil. Make as much money as you want. Great. You got to put in the work. This is not an easy job. In year one, (there’s) not one thing that Phil did (that) you can say, ‘Oh, that was a great move.’ There’s not one thing he did that you can say (was even) a good move.”

That includes trading J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland.

“You can trade every player on the Knick roster if you want,” Isola said. “The only two players right now that I wouldn’t trade are LeBron and Steph Curry. I wouldn’t trade Russell Westbrook, either. But you know what i mean. There’s a handful of guys that you would never trade. Trade anybody on the Knick roster you want. The idea is to get something back for them. You traded two guys that are part of a team that’s probably going to go to the NBA Finals, and you got a 2019 second-round pick (in return). How can they sit here and tell me that was a good move?”

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